Pac-12 coaches take turns taking swipes at SEC’s eight-game schedule

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The biggest topic in college football once again revolves around the SEC and its decision to stick with the eight-game, 6-1-1 format in 2016 and beyond, while other power conferences are either at nine games already or are moving that direction in 2016.

Much like the SEC had its post-spring teleconference yesterday, the Pac-12’s was today, and coaches took turns voicing their displeasure with the SEC staying at eight games, while their teams have to play nine games.

Stanford’s David Shaw has been the most outspoken critic dating back to last November, when he said the Pac-12 had the toughest schedule to navigate because of the SEC’s November ‘cupcakes’ schedule.

“You can write that — cupcakes,” Shaw told “It’s hard from here on out in our conference.”

RELATED: Winners, losers of the SEC’s future scheduling format

Shaw today took another jab at the scheduling and accused the conference of backing down from playing each other. “Play your conference. Don’t back down from playing your own conference. It’s one thing to back down from playing somebody else. But don’t back down from playing your own conference.”

Oregon State head coach Mike Riley also voiced his displeasure with the conference’s decision, bargaining for some equity among the power conference’s schedules.

“I don’t think it’s right. There’s got to be some equity here,” Riley said.

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich sided with both Shaw and Riley, adding he wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“Obviously our feelings are if we are going to call anything equal or point in the same direction for the playoffs, it seems like the qualifications for that playoff should be equal. We are a long ways from that in a few leagues and conferences,” Helfrich said.

He added later…

“I think there’s a couple leagues who are in the minority of playing less than nine league games, that’s definitely to their advantage.”

The Pac-12 and Big 12 currently have nine-game conference schedules. The Big Ten will have nine games starting in 2016, and strong support exists among ACC members to move towards nine games.

Remember, these coaches are just lobbying for their team and conference ahead of the four-team playoff, where politicking could be taken to a whole new level. The debate is merely just getting started. Wait until one SEC team and one Pac-12 team have an identical record and vying for that last playoff spot. That will be fun.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports



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  • The PAC-12 had very difficult schedules last season. No question about it. The average PAC-12 team’s schedule was ranked 10th in the country. PAC-12 teams had the seven toughest schedules in the country and 10 of the top 14.

    But the SEC was second in strength of schedule with an average schedule rank of 26.

    Here are the other five power conferences’ average schedule strengths from 2013 based on Sagarin data:

    Big 12: 38.5
    Big 10: 44.7
    ACC: 48.4

    • Great stuff, Brad. Thanks.

    • 48.4? That’s why we call it the EZZ…

    • I’m sure any SEC team would rather play a pac 12 schedule over playing a SEC schedule if they were worried about losing. I guess I am one of those ppl that think that most of the Pac 12 is overrated. The only good teams are Stanford and Oregon year in and year out. And i would put them in the middle of the SEC. Oregon can’t beat any team with a good defense, and their defense isn’t really good. Stanford has a really good defense, but their offense is below average. USC isn’t the USC of old. I don’t really buy the whole Pac 12 strength of schedule is anywhere as hard as a SEC schedule.

      • Right on the money, Armyguy. Pac-12 doesn’t have 7-8 ranked teams in their conference year in, year out. Sometimes, with the way teams fall and rise, as many as 9 or 10 teams from the SEC are ranked at some point during the season, like this year. As much as I would like the 9 game schedule and the preservation of the old rivalries, I also realize the SEC has had 2 new members for only 2 years, they’re still figuring out the kinks of having 14 members in their conference.

        • no doubt. Bama fan but HONESTLY would rather play Oregon or Stanford that Auburn this year.

        • @ war eagle. how many of those 7-8 ranked teams are deserving? alabama beaten by OU will still be ranked top 5. georgia lost 5 games and still will be ranked in top 25. and thats just where it starts. once season begins if a unranked sec team beats western carolina, north texas, and kentucky they get vaulted into top 25.

      • washington st one of the worst in the pac 12 played auburn on the road. and lost by a mere 7 points. seems to me if it had been one of the better teams in pac 12 like arizona st, arizona, UCLA etc..they would have beaten auburn…lets not forget this is the team that made it to championship game.

    • SOS are very, very, very subjective. You can find several different SOS here, “”. Sagarin’s rating are always skewed in favor of the PAC-12. None of the other SOS are so skewed in their favor. Throw out the high and low and you’ll find the truth in the average. Of the four that listed a conference SOS, three had the SEC in 1st and the PAC-12 in 2nd. Two broke it down to Conference divisions and both of those had the SEC West #1.

      What it all means? FSU (ACC) beat AU (SEC) 34-31 in the BCS Championship game. PAC-12 = Not Applicable.

  • Ok, well when the Pac and the Bigs start winning almost all their bowl game then somebody from the SEC might hand them a hanky. wah.

  • Fact: The Pac12 plays 9 conference games.
    Fact: The SEC plays 8 conference games.
    Fact: The best SEC teams will play more ranked teams than the best Pac12 teams.

    Playing 9 Pac12 games is the definition of a cupcake schedule. Don’t get pissy because you loaded your conference with shitty teams and claim it’s making the schedule stronger.

    • that’s right. I love Colorado, I love the people of Colorado, but adding Colorado was free wins for everybody in the conference for the foreseeable future

  • Regardless of what any coach, media, etc say, the SEC is a leader, not a follower. Really, this is the ONLY thing opposing coaches have to criticize the league about. What else is there? I do think the Pac-12 is the second toughest league overall. Great teams and several of them can win the conference, but the SEC’s SOS is still the toughest, year-after-year, regardless of how many conference games are played.

  • Any reason they weren’t taking jabs at the conference’s bowl wins and national title run? If this is all they have to take shots at, then I’d say the conference is doing pretty well

  • They are doing nothing more than hiding behind their conference. While there may be 2 or 3 very good teams out there, playing most of their conference is nothing more than cupcakes. I am also an advocate of the SEC playing 9 conference games along with a big 5 game, dropping the 2 cupcake games for an open date. The season would be shortened to 11 plus the SEC championship and the 2 playoff games. You would still be playing 14 games in a championship season.