Sched­ul­ing is still con­tentious in Pac-12

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

With Wash­ing­ton’s loss to Stan­ford and the Pac-12’s chances of hav­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off all but elim­i­nated, there’s been a lot of at­ten­tion on the league’s sched­ul­ing and whether it hurts the teams it is meant to show­case.

Stan­ford up­set the thenNo. 9 Huskies 30-22 on Fri­day night, tak­ing out the Pac-12’s last real shot at rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the play­offs. The play­off has never in­cluded a two-loss team.

But this sea­son every one of the con­fer­ence’s teams has at least two losses. Yes, it could mean that play in the league is hav­ing a down year. But sched­ules have been a re­cur­ring theme through­out the sea­son.

Fri­day night games have par­tic­u­larly come un­der scru­tiny be­cause three ranked teams — Wash­ing­ton, Wash­ing­ton State (at Cal­i­for­nia) and USC (at Wash­ing­ton State) — all lost on a Fri­day night af­ter a short week.

In fact, road teams are 0-4 on Fri­day nights af­ter play­ing the pre­vi­ous Satur­day.

Here’s one more thing to con­sider: South­ern Cal­i­for­nia will play 12 straight weeks this sea­son with­out a bye, but will get the week­end off be­fore the Pac-12 cham­pi­onship. What­ever team the Tro­jans face — Wash­ing­ton, Wash­ing­ton State or Stan­ford — will be com­ing off a short week.

USC clinched the Pac-12 South last week­end with a 38-24 vic­tory over Colorado.

The league’s coaches ad­mit there’s not much that can be done: Tele­vi­sion drives sched­ul­ing. By ex­ten­sion, the Pac-12’s TV deals pro­vide na­tional ex­po­sure.

But even the tele­vi­sion fac­tor has been crit­i­cized. The start of the game be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Stan­ford — a show­case of the league’s top team against Heis­man hope­ful Bryce Love — was de­layed and shifted to an­other chan­nel be­cause of the Camp­ing World Truck Series. And of­ten the league’s mar­quee matchups — Pac-12 Af­ter Dark — don’t hap­pen un­til many on the East Coast are al­ready headed to bed.

“Re­ally, we’re in a tele­vi­sion-driven world, and a tele­vi­sion-driven mar­ket, and as a coach I don’t re­ally con­cern my­self with things I can’t con­trol,” USC coach Clay Hel­ton said. “I think that’s the ap­proach of our league. It’s part of col­lege foot­ball to be able to play on Thurs­day, Fri­day or Satur­day nights. From a sched­ul­ing stand­point, you see your sched­ule ahead of time, and you make the most of those op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Com­mis­sioner Larry Scott ad­dressed the is­sue a few weeks ago be­fore Stan­ford’s Thurs­day night game at Ore­gon State, say­ing that the topic of short­week Fri­day night games had come up in a re­cent meet­ing with ath­letic di­rec­tors and other ad­min­is­tra­tors.

“There are al­ready about a dozen dif­fer­ent pa­ram­e­ters that get put into the com­puter when the sched­ules get de­vel­oped, and that is one we’re go­ing to try to take a look at, as much as pos­si­ble, to have an even play­ing field, fair­ness, eq­uity,” Scott said. “This has come up as an is­sue of some con­cern so we’re go­ing to try and ad­dress it with fu­ture sched­ules.”

Scott said he also shares the con­cerns of ath­letic de­part­ments and fans over the fre­quency of night games, but again, it is a trade off with the league’s broad­cast part­ners that bring ex­po­sure to the teams.

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