Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is acting like your 6-year-old kid brother whining, “Why can’t I play?”
The proposal for a 12-team College Football Playoff remains on course, with one of the key elements being that the six highest-ranked conference champions be given an automatic berth.
On Friday, after the CFP meeting of all 10 FBS commissioners to review the proposed 12-team playoff format, Scott played the role of the little brother when he released a statement saying the Pac-12 "supports expansion of the CFP and believes that the Autonomy Five champions should annually qualify for the CFP."
Scott’s proposal did not specifically name the Pac-12, but it’s clear he was making a plea for automatic inclusion of the champion of the Pac-12, which has not had a representative in the current four-team College Football Playoff since 2016 and would not have had a team in the proposed 12-team CFP if that format had been in effect in 2020.
It is reminiscent of being 13 years old, about to play a football game with your friends in the neighborhood, and your 6-year-old brother whines, “Why can’t I play?” To which you all respond, “because you’re too small and not good enough. When you get older and bigger and can show you can hold your own, we’ll let you play.”
Your kid brother goes whining to your mother, who steps in and insists you let the little kid play. You mope, let your brother play, the game is no longer fun, and your friends go home.
Mike Aresco, commissioner of American Athletic Conference, which is not a Power Five conference, told ESPN Scott’s proposal "would be an enormous step in the wrong direction. . . . The top six conferences, without favor, is merit-based. It's fair. It doesn't reward privilege for privilege's sake."
The Pac-12 and Scott are embarrassed by the conference’s decline in football prestige, as it should be, but gerrymandering the rules to slip a Pac-12 team in through the side door is just as embarrassing. It suggests the Pac-12 is afraid its champion might not beat out two champions from group-of-five conferences. That's a position of weakness. It also defeats the purpose of the 12-team format.
The point is to give the best teams the best chance to get into an expanded playoff. Giving berths to six conference champions means at least one team from outside the Power Five conferences will get a berth. That’s a good thing.
Would Cal feel deserving of a CFP berth if it won the Pac-12 title and was ranked 25th, which is where 2020 Pac-12 champion Oregon was ranked by the CFP selection committee at the end of the year? The Golden Bears would be barraged by insults from fan bases of teams that were ranked higher than Cal but did not get a spot in the playoffs. And for good reason.
A team from a group-of-five conference in the proposed 12-team format is like the new kid on the block who is the same age and weight as your 13-year-old friends. Give him the ball a couple time to see if he can hold his own in your group without him having to beg to play.
But don’t go crying to your mother to try to get you into a game in which you don’t belong.
By the way, George Kliavkoff officially replaces Scott as Pac-12 commissioner on July 1.
Cover photo of Larry Scott is by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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