How I'd like to see it. (maybe.)
Was (pac10) 12 game schedule:
3 OOC games (Out Of Conference)
9 Pac10 games
Then a possible 13th game (Bowl Game)
Now (pac12) we’ll get a possible 13th game as the Pac12 Championship
and a possible 14th game as Bowl Game.
Future (pac16) could be 4 pods (play games in THIS order):
3 OOC games
5 Non-Pod games
3 Pod games (Cal-Furd-USC-UCLA; UW-WSU-OSU-UO; UA-ASU-UT-CO; TX-TT-OU-OSU)
1 Semi-Final, OR, 1 add’l Non-Pod game vs. a team not yet played (more below)
1 Pac12 Championship Game
1 Bowl game (would almost guarantee National Champ game annually)
= 14 games
The 4 pod winners (based on 3 games) would ALWAYS play in the Semi-Final game.
If someone goes 3-0 in Pod, but is week in the Non-Pod Pac schedule, so be it. At least teams that advance to the Semi-Final are measured against like opponents - a problem with the current Pac12 format.
Often times, you’d have two 2-1 teams in the Pods, and the record of 5 Non-Pod Pac16 conference games would serve as the tie-breaker.
One potential problem with my plan would be: What do you do if a team goes 3-0 in their Pod, but losses every other game during the season. They would not become bowl eligible, even if they win the semi-final and the champ game. That would be only 5 wins. So, maybe we make it so you are ineligible to be the Pod winner (advance to semi-final game) unless you have at least 4 other wins ALREADY before Pod play begins. This would relegate a Pod player to being ONLY spoiler for the 3-game Pod series at the end of the season. But I think it’s rare. If a team hasn’t won 4 games out of their first 8, they probably aren’t going to win their pod. So, the ineligible winner will be a rarity.
By playing ALL Pod games LAST, the tie-breakers would be known. It would really create a Playoff atmosphere for the final 3 Pod games. This would generate huge interest at the end of the season for a full month.
For the semi-finals (Final Four), obvious: more playoffs. Play 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, seeded teams based upon the full 8 game Pac16 record, or BCS ranking if tied.
Aside from the drama, playing Pod games at the end of the season makes sense anyways because these games are with most schools’ most ardent long term rivalries. Due to smaller distances between proposed Pod schools, student bodies would travel and that would mean tickets would be hot, sell-outs. But mostly, TV interest would be huge. And isn’t that what this is all about? TV revenue?
For the 12 Non Semi-Final qualifying teams, go like this:
Create 6 match-ups for teams’ 12 game of the season based upon who they haven’t yet faced during the season. I would have to run permutations here to see what the chances of repeat games would be, but I think if you can only play 8 of 15 other Pac16 teams earlier in the season, there would be a good chance we’d never have repeat games. Further, you could seed teams and play best vs worst like in the NCAA basketball tourney. Just to give an advantage to the winningest teams. And have the game be played at the home field of the winning team (but split revenue). This would possibly create some scheduling intrigue, kind of like the NCAA hoops tourney: “Oh, then we’d get to play so-and-so”. The downside is that people might not attend these games. But, if that is the case, I think it is more than offset by the HUGE gain made with the 3 Pod games at the end of the season + the 2 Semi Final Pod games. That would be one hell of a month of Pac16 football NATIONALLY.
Yes, I render the OOC games virtually meaningless. But by doing so, we’d no longer have any interest in scheduling a cupcake just to pad our W-L record. Instead, there would be a focus on scheduling games against the schools with the most intrigue from the student body (alumni) standpoint, against those with the most marketing appeal. This could create an incentive for schools to go out and schedule big money making OOC games. Teams are not penalized for scheduling multiple Notre Dames, and not rewarded for scheduling Southern Miss. No more "1 hard, 1 medium, 1 easy." Fans and TV eat it up. The BCS schools would play each other more. The big get bigger. The only benefit to scheduling cupcakes is to make sure you get to 4 wins before Pod Play, and simply to warm up your players, as is often the case.
Yes, I render the 6 Non-Pod games with possibly little meaning. But I don’t care so much because I hate the way the Pac12 is going to run it this season where you can beat everyone in YOUR division, but miss out on the Champ game solely because of non-division performance. It lessens the true round robin drama. If you prove you are the best against YOUR opponents, then YOU deserve to advance. When teams play non-similar opponents, it’s unfair the measure them against one another. Yet, there are plenty of tie-breaker possibilities here. And, you are always playing for Non-BCS bowl game seeding.
With this scenario, everyone has a chance until the end. Drama = Money.
Larry Scott can send me my consulting fee check upon approval by the 16 school presidents. Hey, their office is right down the road. Maybe I should put this write up in a glossy folder and hand deliver instead of posting here.
PS: It is not lost on me that the 4-team Pod format is similar to the World Cup soccer format. If you want to envision what drama of the final month would be like, think of what those 3 World Cup games mean to fans.
PPS: You'll notice there are a number of rules here. Intricacies. Tie-breakers and dependencies. I think this only creates more stir amongst fans, as they explain the rules and the set of tie breakers.