The 2014 Pac-12 Championship game was and will be the only major conference championship that featured two top 10 teams. After a slow start for the Ducks at Levi’s Stadium, the title bout eventually turned into a rout of Arizona, 51-13. The No. 2 team in the nation shined last night, all but securing a spot in the first College Football Playoff.
As Oregon moves into the national spotlight, the Pac-12 conference overall has impressed members of the Playoff Selection Committee and fans alike, going 10-3 against teams in the Big 5 conferences this year, including monster wins over Michigan State and Notre Dame. Six Pac-12 teams were in the top 25 for a large part of the season and eight have now become bowl eligible.
This marks the first year of the College Football Playoff, a response to the decades-old and often frustrating BCS system. Yesterday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott spoke to the media before the game about the new playoff system.
“We had real issues, not just our conference, but others too with the old system and the coaches’ poll as an example. The media poll as well…,” Scott said.
For Scott, the idea behind a playoff committee was to distinguish itself from the BCS by incorporating human subjectivity into the decision-making process. The committee members aren’t simply looking at just the wins and losses, but how teams win or lose, closely examining players, injuries, strength, control and resiliency.
As far as the committee is concerned, the Pac-12 has been held in relatively high esteem, considering that one of the Big 5 conference champions will not make it to the playoffs by virtue of design. “We went into it expecting it to be controversial, expecting at least one conference to be on the outside looking in,” Scott said. Rather, the respect for the Pac-12 continues to grow and this year the Pac-12 Championship game held national implications as a de facto quarterfinal game.
Oregon submitted a strong case for the playoffs, defeating four top 25 teams in the regular season. The Ducks went on to cement their status as the cream of the conference by avenging their sole loss against Arizona last night in the Pac-12 Championship game. Scott agrees and believes that the long-term success of the Pac-12 will depend on its continuing ability to win big games and schools being encouraged to develop a more rigorous non-conference schedule.
“Keep in mind the strength of schedule is something that’s been emphasized heavily to the committee and by the committee this year. We’re the only conference that’s got nine conference games plus the championship game. That fact sometimes has been controversial in our conference,” Scott said,
Scott has worked in lockstep with commissioners from nine FBS conferences and the Notre Dame athletic director to select the committee members and create guidelines that represent the common goals of FBS teams as well as the means of achieving those goals.
“The commissioners have been really clear with the committee that we want to value strength of schedule, want to value being a conference champion, want to value head-to-head as determining factors with winning your conference championship being the most important,” Scott said.
The reason for Oregon’s success has been their understanding of what is expected of them and their ability to deliver the goods on demand. By taking care of business and doing it the right way, both the Pac-12 and the Oregon Ducks have never been more popular, both with winning reputations and philosophies centered around elite competition.
Top photo from video
Larry Scott interview quotes provided courtesy of the Pac-12