When the Pac-12 changed the format for its soccer championship game, every conference attendee knew that a new planning framework would be needed to take the conference through the next few years.
It’s too late for 2022, but in 2023 the Pac-12 will have a new planning model to accompany the official lifting of the divisions. Those divisions are still in place for 2022, but they mean nothing more than forming the architecture for the conference’s nine-game schedule. In 2023, the divisions will be lifted and the completely new schedule structure will be introduced.
Jon Wilner from the Wilner Hotline has more details.
“We are working on several models,” Commissioner George Kliavkoff told the hotline in an extensive interview. “At football media day we will probably announce how we plan.”
The division format has provided a backbone for the nine-game conference schedule since expansion in 2011, with teams playing each of their five division opponents annually and rotating through the other six at varying intervals.
But the need to weight schedules based on division affiliation disappeared last month when the Pac-12 announced that teams with the best winning odds in conference games — not division winners — would be competing for the championship beginning in the 2022 season.
“To me, divisions have three meanings,” Kliavkoff said.
“One is how they decide who plays in their championship game and we’ve already solved that with the announced change.
“Second, they can dictate how you plan.
“Third, they reflect how you report the results.
“For me, the way you report the results – whether it’s two divisions or a single group of 12 teams – is the least important.”
(As of now, the Pac-12 hasn’t announced any change to the visual part: how scores will be reported and what format fans will see when they look at the leaderboards this fall.)
Any decisions affecting the football model should be considered temporary.
What serves the conference best in the final years of the four-team College Football Playoffs may not work when the CFP expands to 12 teams in the 2026 season.
As with the new process for determining championship play, any adjustments to the schedule are essentially a bridge to ’26.