Pac-12 scraps the divisions shortly after the NCAA paves the way


Pac-12 scraps the divisions shortly after the NCAA paves the way

The Pac-12 announced Wednesday that it will be abandoning its division format for the upcoming football season, shortly after the NCAA Division I council scrapped requirements that dictate how conferences can determine a champion.

The Pac-12 will now pair the teams with the highest conference win percentages in its 11-season title game with matched winners from the North and South divisions.

Other conferences are expected to follow, most notably the 14-team Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC is attempting to implement a new scheduling model already 2023.

Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said it’s unlikely the ACC will follow the Pac-12 and get rid of its divisions this year.

“I don’t think you would see it. We have already published our schedule for 2022. But we could do it by 2023,” said Wildhack, who is on a subcommittee trying to figure out the best format for the conference schedule. “No reason why we couldn’t do it in 2023.”

To have a conference title game, NCAA rules required leagues to previously be split into divisions if they could not play a full round-robin schedule. The 10-man Big 12 eventually decided to continue their title game in part without divisions to raise the winner’s profile for playoff consideration.

The Pac-12 executives clearly thought so too.

“Our goal is to place our top two teams in our Pac-12 football championship game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to streamline CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships,” said Pac- 12-Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “Today’s decision is an important step towards that goal and immediately increases both fan interest and media value of our football championship game.”

The DI Council also endorsed a recommendation from the Football Oversight Committee is set to help with roster management and raise the annual stipend cap of 25.

While the maximum of 25 so-called initial counters will be waived for the next two years, the total scholarship limit of 85 per team in the bowl subdivision and 63 in the championship subdivision remains in place. The change, backed by the American Football Coaches’ Association, aims to help teams replenish rosters thinned by transfers.

Pending is a proposal to set specific time periods during which players can enter the transfer portal and be immediately admitted to a new school. Football coaches suggested two multi-week dates, starting after the regular season in late fall and again after spring training ended in late April.

Because similar windows would likely be needed for other sports, this proposal will be considered by the NCAA’s Division I Conversions Committee, which is expected to make recommendations this summer.

The Pac-12 said the nine-game conference schedule, based on the divisions in place for this season, will remain unchanged, but models for future seasons will be reviewed.

The ACC is considering a 3-5-5 model for football planning, in which teams play three opponents annually as permanent planning partners, and then rotate the other 10 teams over two seasons in an eight-game schedule (five in one year, five in next). ).

The change fixes two issues with the current seven-team divisions and a permanent crossover rival setup: Conference members who haven’t played each other for years, and unbalanced divisions that have sometimes resulted in one-sided matchups in the league title game.

Without divisions, a conference would be more likely to have its top two teams in its championship game and improve its chances of picking a team or two for the college football playoffs.

The Pac-12 noted that five of its 11 championship games would have been different if the conference had brought together their top two teams instead of the division winners.

The Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference are also considering future scheduling models and whether to stay with the divisions.

The Big 12 are considering a return to a divisional structure as they prepare to add four new members in 2023, which could bring the number of teams in the conference to 14, at least temporarily.

Texas and Oklahoma will leave the Big 12 after the 2024 season and join the Southeastern Conference. New Big 12 members BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are expected to attend the conference through 2023.


AP sportswriter Aaron Beard contributed to this report.


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