Pac-12 eyes 9 league games
NEW YORK -- Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday that when the league expands to 12 teams, there is "a strong bias" toward the conference maintaining a nine-game league schedule.
However, the split into two divisions has led to discussion of moving rivalry games such as the Apple Cup and Civil War to midseason.
Scott said the nine-game schedule will solve a multitude of issues, chief among them the desire of every team to maintain an annual presence in Los Angeles, where so much recruiting is done.
In the current 10-team league, every team plays either at USC or at UCLA every year. Once Colorado and Utah transform the league from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12, the league will split into two divisions in order to stage a conference championship game.
Scott said they have looked at three basic models: geographic divisions, the so-called "zipper" divisions, in which each of the six geographic pairings (Arizona-Arizona State, USC-UCLA, Stanford-Cal, Oregon-Oregon State, Washington-Washington State, Colorado-Utah) would be separated, or a hybrid of the two ideas.
Whatever the makeup of the divisions, Scott said, "If you're going to play nine conference games, you'll play five in your division and four out of six teams in the other division. You're going to play an L.A. team every year and you're going to get to L.A. at least two of every three years."
One issue with the "zipper" plan, Scott said, is that the rivalry games played in the last couple of weeks of the season would become inter-division games. That introduces the possibility of rematches in the Pac-12 Championship Game. To solve that issue, Scott said, the league will discuss moving those rivalries to the middle of the season.
League athletic directors will discuss these options at a meeting Friday. Scott said he doesn't expect that a decision will be made before the league presidents meet in October.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com.