Should the Pac-10 end round-robin scheduling? Of course it should
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The California Golden Blogs asks a question that should make its way into the Pac-10 office and fall onto the desk of incoming commissioner Larry Scott: Should the Pac-10 end round-robin scheduling?
If college football was about fairness and seeking legitimate competition, the answer would be no. A thousand times no.
But it's not.
So the Pac-10 should end round-robin scheduling, a practice that only insures the conference suffers five additional losses a season, which hurts national rankings and strength of schedule ratings, which then combines to hurt the conference in the BCS standings.
If the Pac-10 tossed away a ninth conference game, then it could add another nonconference game, like other BCS conferences do.
And, of course, that game, per the nearly uniform example set by other BCS conferences, should be against a directional school patsy.
We're not going to get all mathy here and try to re-imagine past BCS formulations, but just consider the conference in 2008 if the bottom five teams had one more win and one fewer loss.
Arizona State and Stanford would have been bowl teams. UCLA, Washington and Washington State wouldn't have been as much of an anchor for USC's strength of schedule as the Trojans tried to insinuate themselves into the national championship picture with the exact same record as the two teams that ended up playing for the title.
Or imagine if UCLA, Washington and Washington State started the season with this schedule: Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU and Massachusetts.
Each would have then started 4-0, which is what Texas Tech did with that schedule.
That means those three would have been just two wins away from bowl eligibility. UCLA would have certainly made it. And who knows how confident the Huskies and Cougars might have responded after a nice start.
The BCS system does not reward the Pac-10 for round-robin scheduling, whether considered from the perspective of mathematical formulas or public perception.
Ever tried to explain the perils of round-robin schedule to an adherent from another conference? Their eyes glaze over.
How often do pundits note it as an explanation for why the Pac-10 doesn't produce seven bowl teams?
Kentucky, which lost six of its final eight regular-season games, was a bowl team last year. The Wildcats didn't beat a BCS team with a winning record. They did beat Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky.
How much did scheduling contribute to the perception of Kentucky being a part of that notorious "SEC depth"?
This doesn't even mean the Pac-10 needs to drop its longstanding tradition of seeking out tough nonconference games. With four games out of conference every year, the Pac-10 should merely makes sure it goes, at worst, 3-1.
Sure, play Texas, Georgia or Ohio State. But also play Norfolk State, Massachusetts and Eastern-Coastal Monroe A&M.
The downer is the conference championship won't be as pure. And one team every year will do a "neener-neener" at the other eight when it misses USC.
But what about the BCS system is pure?