Just before dawn on the west coast, the college football’s most influential analyst hit Pac-12 with a right cross of reality on the sport’s most popular show.
“They’ve become less respected than the American (conference), ” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said on the GameDay set. “That’s where the Pac-12 is right now.
“I know they started late, but they have an undefeated USC team. Colorado’s been a great story. Nothing. They’re not even a blip on the radar.
“I always try to fight for the Pac-12, and I’m not saying those teams are worthy of being in the top five. But to not even be recognized or talked about isn’t right. ”
“I think it is this year. I’m okay with it this year, ” host Rece Davis interjected. “They’re going to play in a New Year’s Six bowl.”
“Well, yeah,” Herbstreit added with a chuckle, “because they have to.”
How’s your day going?
The Pac-12’s biggest Saturday got even more complicated when Colorado was beaten soundly and the Cal-Washington State game was canceled because of COVID issues within the Bears’ program.
(One positive test led to contact tracing and Cal being unable to meet the position group thresholds after the team had traveled to Pullman.)
As of lunchtime, here’s the situation:
– If either of the last two games (USC-UCLA or Stanford-Oregon State) gets canceled, the conference will drop below the total games-played requirement.
That would trigger a change in the process for determining the championship game participants and allow the teams with the best winning percentage to advance, regardless of division affiliation.
– Regardless of the model used, USC is assured of a berth in the title game: The Trojans have won the South and clinched the best winning percentage in the conference.
– But their opponent in the title game is unknown.
If another cancellation triggers the alternate model, then Washington and Colorado would be tied for the second-best winning percentage (.750).
With no head-to-head result, the determination would likely fall to the No. 4 tiebreaker: “Cumulative winning percentage of each tied team’s Conference opponents.”
We don’t know that yet.
If the games are played this evening as scheduled, then the standard approach to selecting the title game participants would apply.
Except we don’t know if Washington can play because of COVID issues.
And when don’t know when Washington will know if it can play.
So, yes: There’s complete chaos.
Which was completely expected.
The conference is expected to unveil the championship game participants tonight or Sunday morning, along with the full schedule for Week Seven.
“What’s fair ?,” former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said on the FOX pregame show. “2020 has taught us a lot of things. Sit back, re-evaluate, are you really doing what’s right by the teams?
“If you’re second-best team’s in the same division, why aren’t they playing? Because of tradition? Go tell the players that. Players don’t care about tradition. They want a chance to go earn a ring. ”
The Pac-12 isn’t the only conference with a messy situation.
The Big Ten and ACC became entangled in COVID chaos, but both managed to extricate themselves by changing policy and altering schedules.
The Big Ten changed the games-played threshold so No. 4 Ohio State could advance to the championship.
The ACC shut down its best teams this week, clearing the path for No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson to square off for the title.
For each conference, the result was the same: The best championship game matchup, based on rankings and record.
“Have the top two teams playing,” FOX analyst Brady Quinn said.
“It’s going to elevate your conference. In general, it’s going to help build that resume of whoever that conference winner is. ”
The Pac-12 has not given any indication how it will determine USC’s opponent, particularly if the Huskies cannot play.
But this is a big 24 hours, folks, and it will tell us much about the conference’s priorities.
There are bound to be tough decisions and hurt feelings, because no situation is ideal and fairness doesn’t apply in a pandemic season.
Are commissioner Larry Scott and football operations chief Merton Hanks up to the task?
Strong, decisive leadership is required.
Leadership that will make the best championship game matchup.
Leadership that will do what’s best for the conference’s most important export.
Leadership that will look beyond precedent and politics, beyond protocol and bias.
It’s easy to lead when solutions are clean and simple.
This is the opposite.
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