The Pac-12-Big Ten football series that was scheduled to begin in 2017 is in trouble of not even starting after some schools on the west coast are becoming reluctant and reconsidering their options.
It is unclear which schools in particular are second guessing themselves but there are multiple, logical reasons for this series to not even get off the ground.
For the Pac-12 schools there is just too much risk to schedule and agree to facing a top-tier Big Ten program when they already have other high profile, out-of-conference matchups. I’m speaking mostly for the USC’s and Oregon’s that have tough teams already on their schedule for the next few seasons and in the future. For example, USC has their annual matchup with Notre Dame and they have a scheduled home and home series with Texas that’s supposed to start the same year the Pac-12-Big Ten series is. Why would they agree to scheduling a Big Ten power when they already have those other difficult out of conference games set?
As for the other Pac-12 squads, Oregon has a series with Texas A&M scheduled for 2018-19. Stanford is playing Virginia and Notre Dame in 2017-18; ASU has Notre Dame scheduled and that’s on top of the Pac-12 teams playing nine league games (as opposed to eight for SEC teams).
Scheduling cupcakes has become somewhat of a tradition for the bigger programs that have national championship aspirations because they know they already have a daunting in-conference schedule. If they somehow slip-up in the preseason against a weaker team they are unlikely to make the national championship game in the current format, even if they went undefeated in their conference games.
One way to make sure that inter-conference series’ like this one stay on track would to make sure that the qualifications for making the final four, in a four team playoff system, would heavily rely on strength of schedule. If a strong strength of schedule is not a requirement then there would not be any incentive to schedule tough out of conference games, to play more home games against cupcakes and to just rely on winning your conference to make the final four.
I hope that this series stays on track because it would create some great, fan-friendly match-ups. The Rose Bowl has always been a marque’ game, besides the fact that it is a major bowl game, due to the quality of both teams. Seeing those same teams play in the regular season would be great for college football and hopefully lead to more inter-conference battles like this one.