The Pac-12 and Big Ten announced a plan in December to schedule football games against each other beginning in 2017 and to push for scheduling in other sports, as well. On Friday, the conferences announced the plan would not work and has been scrapped.
In a puzzling move Friday, the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences announced the end of an agreement the leagues had struck less than seven months ago to enhance scheduling in all sports between the two.
The leagues had announced late in December the pact, which would have brought a full, 12-game menu of football games annually between the conferences by 2017, plus a push to meet in other sports.
A joint statement was issued from commissioners of the Pac-12 and Big Ten, Larry Scott and Jim Delany, and Delany’s comment reflects that it was more unrest with the plan on the Pac-12 side that scuttled it.
“We recently learned from (Scott) that the complications associated with coordinating a nonconference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult,” Delany said.
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Complications with the plan — albeit ones that were known when it was announced — include traditional series with Notre Dame for USC and Stanford, which, with nine conference games, meant they could be playing 11 high-level games. Yet it’s believed USC and Stanford thought the plan could still work once their other high-profile nonconference games were off the schedule.
There was discussion of various models within the league, including a transitional phase from 2017 to 2020 when not all 12 teams would have participated, and even a proposal that would have seen just the eight Pac-12 schools favoring the notion taking part, according to ESPN.com. But the Big Ten voted that idea down.
The move is a blow for fans of tougher schedules, and for smaller schools like Washington State and Oregon State that find it hard to get home games against Big Ten-level opponents.
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said he favored the decision, although he emphasized the Huskies still want to work closely with the Big Ten and they have home-and-home football series with Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I think we as a conference made a good decision,” he said. “I just think it’s our best interest to maintain flexibility. I think we landed in exactly the right place.”
Washington State athletic director Bill Moos had a different view.
“I’m extremely disappointed it did not pan out,” Moos said. “For the Cougars, I thought it was an ideal opportunity for us to bring quality BCS opponents into Pullman early in the year on a regular basis.
“I know some of my peers were worried about playing nine conference games (the Pac-12 plays nine, the Big Ten eight) and adding to it. But we’re all doing that (scheduling one rugged nonleague game) anyway, for the most part.”
The newly adopted college playoff to begin taking place after the 2014 season has a strength-of-schedule component for qualification into the four-team format, “which I thought might have swayed some of the naysayers,” Moos said, “but apparently, it did not.”
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org