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Pac-12 alignment, scheduling causes conference turmoil

Jon Wilner checked in yesterday with the latest on the Pac-12 and the possibilities for divisional alignment and scheduling. In short it's a nightmare proving to be more of a headache than Larry Scott anticipated.

Let's break it down in layman's terms.

 The "Pac-12″ will almost assuredly play a nine-game conference schedule in the foreseeable future.


So many teams’ schedules are set for the next four or five years — teams inside and outside the Pac-10 — that accommodating an extra non-conference game would be exceedingly difficult.

If the Pac-12 does choose to play nine conference games, we'd all be at a disadvantage (as I detailed here). How would an extra conference game affect out of conference contracts? It wouldn't. The heart of the problem here is that the California schools are forcing the conference to bend to their will, allowing them to maximize the chances of continuing their rivalries every year. Even with nine games, the scheduling to keep the rivalries intact becomes incredibly difficult.

Men’s and women’s basketball will exist as single, 12-team entities (which obviously raises some scheduling issues).

Again, a scheduling nightmare. At the end of the day, it's going to take a rocket scientist to make everyone happy and even then, I don't think it's possible. The scheduling nightmare that's coming to light -- both in football and basketball -- was unforeseen when Colorado and Utah were invited. Larry Scott may have had a dream that we'd all get along and make this work, but that isn't happening.

One Pacific NW school is dead-set on being paired with at least one of the SoCal schools, I’ve been told, and the California schools are loathe to be separated.

UW That unnamed Northwest school has a fear of being cut off from those fertile SoCal recruiting grounds. If the Northwest schools could be unified, it would go a long way towards preventing the California schools from having their way with the details of alignment and scheduling. Instead, we've got three on board and UW one unnamed school working for their own interests.

Dividing the league by the natural rivals (i.e., the Zipper Plan, proposed on the Hotline in February) is gaining traction.

The zipper plan is a second rate idea, in my opinion. First, the zipper splits the schools in a seemingly arbitrary way. Are we going to pick and choose which rival is on which side to attempt to make everyone happy? If so, the Pac-12 minimizes the value of divisions and creates a conference championship that is insignificant.

Wilner points out that there is a way for the California schools to play each other in both the zipper proposal and aligning divisions geographically. There's no need to arbitrarily split the conference down the middle.

The piece from Wilner shows a clear power play from a few schools in the Pac-10. The California schools are pushing a 9 game schedule and an alignment that best fits their ability to keep their rivalry intact. UW The unnamed Northwest school is throwing their weight around in fear of irrelevance due to being "cut off" from Southern California. Schools are beginning to jockeying for position.

By allowing the conference to move forward with a nine game schedule, the Pac-12 schools would all be at a disadvantage. None of the current twelve team conferences play nine conference games. It allows schools to take the easiest path to BCS relevance while minimizing the possibility that the conference will beat up on each other throughout the season.

Is a rivalry game more important than the national exposure and money BCS games will bring? It may not be ideal, but it's the system we're forced to play within. We might as well exploit it while we have the chance.

Step up to the plate, Pac-10 schools. Make some concessions to make this work. If you don't, we're no better than the Big 12 and the conference will suffer as a whole. Expansion was meant to maximize revenue and exposure. If the schools don't make some compromises to do this, it was all an exercise in futility.

For more on alignment, see our pieces on the geographic and zipper alignments. For more on scheduling, see this piece. Finally, does it even matter?