The 9-game requirement: Time to drop it?

Excerpt from Stewart Mindel’s piece just after our Oregon debacle. (This is from The Athletic, which has a pay wall.)

The country Is hard enough on the PAC-12. The PAC-12 doesn’t need to make it so hard for itself.

Or, [Larry Scott] could reconsider his league’s approach to scheduling. Because the current one — playing nine conference games AND a championship game, in addition to what are usually some of the sport’s most ambitious non-conference slates, is not working. It virtually requires a Pac-12 team to go 10-0 against league opposition. No Power 5 team in any conference has yet achieved that milestone (though Ohio State could Saturday.)

“Nobody has been able to do that because we beat each other up every year,” said Whittingham. “We play that ninth game, which gives you another opportunity to take a loss. There’s been a lot of balance. I hate the word ‘parity,’ but it’s a very competitive conference.”

And this being college football, a sport where most of the brand-name programs established themselves a half-century ago or longer, Pac-12 teams don’t have to battle each other. There’s also the compounding obstacle of the league’s lack of respect nationally.

Alabama can lose 44-16 to Clemson and be ranked right back at No. 1 the next year. The Big Ten can go three years without one of its teams scoring a point in a Playoff game and not have to worry whether the next Ohio State team will be taken seriously. But chances are Utah’s big-stage facepalm will only be held against whatever non-blueblood emerges as the Pac-12’s next Playoff contender.

Before the game, Scott credited the Playoff selection committee for showing Utah more respect than the Utes had been getting from “talking heads on TV.” The committee had noticed Utah’s “consistent dominance” against recent opponents like UCLA (4-8), Arizona (4-8) and Colorado (5-7).

“It’s one of the reasons I was so supportive of the move from the BCS to the College Football Playoff,” he said, “because if you look at the committee, they’ve absolutely shown huge respect for Utah throughout the season. They’re watching the games. They’re not going off of brand, they’re not going off of history, they’re actually watching the games.”

Unfortunately for both Utah and its conference, Friday was the one time all year the rest of the country was watching, too. And they’ll be sure to bring it up the next time a Pac-12 team reaches the cusp of the top four.

I’m on board with the theory that the nine game conference season is hurting the conference rather than helping. For one, especially in Utah’s case where we’re coerced into having to play BYU, it hurts OOC scheduling. Combine that with the circular logic used in the East by voters who don’t see half our games since they start at 10:00pm ET, where they conclude that an in-conference loss reflects in the whole conference (the opposite of how they look at the SEC or Big10+) and the PAC12 gets screwed.


I’ve been thinking about this off and on for a bit. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that either all P-5 conferences play a 9 game conference schedule, or none play a 9 game conference schedule. I do think, in that vein, that all P-5 conferences should play G5 or P5 teams only, no FCS teams. Although I suspect that the PAC will still have issues, with it being more balanced than any other P5 conference (eye test only, I haven’t dug into the stats). The other 4 P5 conferences appear to be extremely top heavy with only 2 or 3 teams that can consistently win their league.

So all that being said, yes, I think the PAC12 should go to an 8 game conference slate, but we should also make certain that none of our schools play any FCS teams. I believe that would be an easier transition than getting the other P5 conferences onto a 9 game conference slate. Just my $.02 worth.


Nailed it. That crap has been going on for years. It’s the same with basketball.


The NCAA sticks it’s nose into everything, much to which it should stay out of. However, this seems like something they should have addressed years ago. Standardize it among all P5 conferences; either eight or nine games. It’s not that difficult.

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I understand the argument against the 9 game schedule, but does anyone here really want to see the Utes play an Alabama like schedule with two games against Idaho St. and Weber St. in the same season. I don’t. If you just replace the 1 conference game with a P5 game, aren’t you really in the same situation as having 9 conference games? As I recall, the 9 game schedule with Stanford/Cal playing the SoCal schools each year was one of the conditions for expanding the PAC to 12 teams. Should the NCAA step in and mandate an even number of games? Probably, but that won’t happen. The NCAA does not mess with SEC football.

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Agreed, @UTEopia. The advantages to the 9 game schedule for the P12 are geographical and financial.

But more importantly, schools in the North insisted on a game each year in Southern California for recruiting purposes, as I recall being at least the rumor.

I don’t see them willingly relinquishing that, especially seeing how Thibedaux dominated for Oregon late in the championship game as a true freshman. He was the #1 “ranked” recruit in California last year, I think, and at least in this case the rankings may have been correct. Point is that playing near recruits is a big deal.

Nope. We’re a hell of a lot closer to all P5 schools being required to schedule 9 games than anything else.

The 9 game schedule is fine, the lack of two or 3 really good schools at the top of the conference hurts more. If we had 3 or even 2 really good schools (also assuming they’re not dropping games to teams they shouldn’t), a 1 or 2 loss Pac-12 champion still gets into the playoffs, etc.

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The better solution for everyone is to require all conferences to schedule nine conference games.


Require all P5 Conferences to play a 9 game schedule and all OOC games must be G5 or P5 schools.

Need to get over the whine about playing BYU. They were our best OOC win. They are our little ■■■■■ and will remain that way in perpetuity.


I would rather be playing home and home with Texas Tech or Mississippi State. Those would be better wins.

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Yes it is. I just don’t see it happening unless the SEC tells the NCAA to do it.

When has Alabama played two FCS schools in the same season?

The 9-game schedule, though earning us the gloss of being “The Conference of Cannibals” isn’t as damning as scheduling a practice game against the FCS, or a “sisters of the poor” game against a G5 doormat school. At least a P5 doormat has the chance of boosting your brand if you stomp them hard enough. Those others do nothing for boosting the brand.

I remember the oft-used mantra of “To be the best, you gotta beat the best.” Yes, in college football it’s a season to season crapshoot on the scheduling of the OOC games to find the mix that will get your team in the national conversation. Playing games against FCS and lower tier G5 schools ain’t getting anyone west of the Missouri River a sniff.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it reeks of bias since many East Coast and Midwest P5 high-profile schools schedule their OOC schedule that way. But until we walk into Gainesville and drop a giant ■■■■ hammer on Bevo and on the Gators, or the PAC 12 as a collective start dropping big ■■■■■■■■■■■ on the East Coast and Midwest P5 Schools during OOC and bowl games, the bias will continue. The only light here is if a PAC 12 team runs the table undefeated, they will get a shot.

Never, but they can get home games against G5’s without a return trip. Utah cannot. I wouldn’t be interested in seeing the Utes play Liberty and New Mexico St., which is the equivalent of Western Carolina and New Mexico St. Actually, Liberty is probably better than Western Carolina.


The Pac can’t just go to 8 games and be treated like the others. That does not fix east coast bias. The SEC simply gets away with a schedule that does not suit us. The ACC is like the MWC with one good team. USC could not move to the MWC and expect the same treatment. Forget the plan to copy them to be treated like them.

The 9 game conference schedule has increasing momentum. We don’t need to increase the amount of unpopular inventory. I think wining the OOC games with P5 teams is the key. Return to beating ND and use home and home games with the P5 teams that will schedule. There will be ample teams that will schedule with us.

100% disagree. Also 100% agree that the solution is simple: win more of the OOC P5 games… in other words, get better.

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I would rather see all conferences be made to adopt the 9 game schedule, but until that happens, drop to 8. What has also really hurt the conference is Larry’s ■■■■■■ scheduling priorities, ■■■■■■ officiating, no Direct TV deal and most importantly, USC and UCLA underperforming by making a string of horrid coaching hires.


Alabama led the way with neutral site and is now abandoning them. They are stacked with P5 home and homes. Also, Saban has for 6 to 7 years advocated 9 conference games. If not longer. No other school will back it. It sucks playing Western Carolina for the fans. Not like playing Indiana or Ok State home and home wouldn’t be better for us.