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A quick look at the Pac-12’s 2020 football schedule

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The Pac-12 had a clear strategy when it put the schedule together

Oregon State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. If it’s not totally back, Pac-12 football is definitely in sight on the horizon. We hit another major milestone on Saturday, as the conference released its modified schedule featuring five divisional games, one inter-divisional game and a seventh game against a to-be-determined opponent. Oh, and maybe even a bowl game!

So, should we be excited about this semi-season? I’ll be honest, I’m still largely indifferent. I’m sure I’ll come around when the games start, but this year has been so screwed up that it feels like, once again, the Pac-12 is so far behind everyone else that the football season is little more than a sideshow. That may not be all bad, though. As I told the other authors, in my attempt to get excited about the season I’m landing on, “this is basically just a seven-game preseason that Nick Rolovich can use as a springboard into (GOD WILLING) a full and mostly normal season in 2021.

So, how is this truncated, totally bizarre season going to go? We’ll break that down as we get closer to kick. One thing we can talk about is how the conference decided to match cross-division foes. Before the schedule announcement, Jeff and I had competing theories as to how the conference should go about doing that, which we discussed over Zoom as Dortmund was wiping the floor with Freiburg. My opinion was that the conference should have scheduled the top contenders in the South to face their counterparts in the North, like matching the Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans, for example. Why? Well, the conference is starting so far behind everyone else that its only hope to have a College Football Playoff participant is if one of its teams goes unbeaten and has played a rigorous schedule.

Jeff disagreed, believing that the goal should be to get a team across the finish line unbeaten which would give the best chance at one of the top four spots. Shortly after our discussion, the (largely fanfare bereft) schedule was announced, and it became obvious that Jeff’s theory won out. The Oregon Ducks will face the UCLA Bruins, The Washington Huskies will face the Arizona Wildcats, and the USC Trojans will take on your Washington State Cougars. Given what a tire fire the Big 12 is quickly becoming, maybe trying to just get a team through its schedule unscathed is the right call. Of course, any contender will likely have to get past a bevy of SEC and Big Ten teams just to get in the conversation.

Despite the Pac-12’s obvious scheduling philosophy, formerly-astute Pac-12 writer Jon Wilner couldn’t help but come off the top rope with another in a long line of absurd takes.

On the sane side of things was John Canzano, who is almost certainly the best chronicler of college sports that we’ve got on the west coast.

The conference could have toggled things around, but nobody had the appetite for it. As a result, the Pac-12 mostly avoided pitting its better teams against each other in those crossover games. I wrote a column a week ago about scheduling strategy. I wondered if the Pac-12 might line up the regular season matchups, gaming for 6-0 vs. 6-0 in the conference title game. The news release the Pac-12 put out underscored that point.

Because on one hand, I think the Pac-12 tried to avoid unnecessarily cannibalizing itself before the conference title game weekend (Dec. 18-19). On the other, I wonder if it blew an opportunity by not reworking the schedule to focus more on getting the two most promising teams (Oregon and USC) one additional opportunity for a quality win in the crossover game.

Canzano’s column on the subject has a lot more nuance to it, and I encourage you to read the entire thing. For his part, Patrick Chun was not all sunshine and rainbows following the conference’s scheduling talks, according to the Spokesman Review.

“Trust me, we voted for the schedule that we felt was best for Washington State and that wasn’t the one that came out today,” Chun said. “But that’s just part of it. In my couple years in this league – I don’t even know what the vote fell out to be – but we’ve never had a unanimous vote on the schedule. Just because, that’s your priority.

I have no doubt that Chun went hard after getting WSU in the best possible position. But in the end, his equities are not those of a conference heavyweight, so good luck getting any breaks.

I still think the contenders should be playing the contenders, but none of that matters now. What matters for our Cougs is beating the Oregon State Beavers for the seventh consecutive year. It won’t be an easy task, as the game is on the road and OSU, despite losing a lot of talent, seems to be a team on the rise. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have talked myself into being excited by the time November 7 rolls around. I’m sure most of you will, too.

Football

New Washington State schedule features back-to-back Friday games against UW, USC | The Spokesman-Review
All Pac-12 teams not participating in the conference title game will play a second crossover game on Dec. 19. Pairings for those games will be determined by the teams playing in the championship game.

Canzano: Pac-12 Conference set up the football schedule, but did it game the system? - oregonlive.com
“The schedule announced today is highlighted by exciting and tough matchups that will showcase the depth of our conference and position our teams well for CFP consideration and postseason bowl opportunities.”

This Week in Parenting

I don’t know when or why it happened, but at some point in the last month or two, I told the boys that they could get bigger calves by walking around on their tippy toes. So of course they decided to do just that for like the next hour. They’ve been doing this on an off ever since, with the 8 year-old taking particular joy in the fact that his calves are “getting huge.”

Speaking of the 8 year-old, he’s eminently curious about a lot of things. Problem is those things all have to do with other people, and none of them are boring subjects like reading and math. In other words, he’s nosy. So the other day when we were driving to a Cub Scout event (a fund raiser where people could adopt rocks. Yes, that’s right) he asked me what I was going to do when I retire from the military. “I haven’t really thought about it,” I said. I mean, I have thought about it in the sense that I don’t want to do anything, but that’s unrealistic. He decided to go for the jugular. “Well you should start thinking about it. No offense, but you’re getting pretty old.”

If I could have reached far enough back to choke him out, I would have.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Getting pretty low on the mail order stock, so this week nearly everything I consumed came from Belgium. There was one final selection from the fine folks at Hop Hooligans, and that was Phi - Gyle 500 Triple IPA. Glad I hung on to it!

Anheuser-Busch InBev Completes Acquisition Of Craft Brew Alliance
This morning, Craft Brew AllianceBREW (CBA) and Anheuser-Busch InBev jointly announced the closing of a months-long merger process and formally consummated a deal that’s been years in the making.

Non-Sports

Immigration System Betrays U.S.-Allied Iraqis - Rolling Stone
Trapped in the endless bureaucracy of a broken visa program, Iraqis who risked their lives to support U.S. forces live in fear at home.