Pac-12 removes divisions and changes conference title game requirements

Moments after the NCAA’s Division I Board rejected requirements that dictate how football conferences can determine a champion, the Pac-12 announced Wednesday that it was scrapping its divisional format for the season at to come.

The Pac-12 will now face the teams with the highest conference winning percentages in their title game after 11 seasons of corresponding North and South Division winners.

Other conferences are expected to follow, including the 14-team Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC is looking to implement a new schedule model as early as 2023.

NCAA rules previously required football conferences that want to play a championship game to split into divisions if they can’t play a full round-robin schedule.

“Our goal is to place our top two teams in our Pac-12 Football Championship game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to maximize CFP invites and ultimately win national championships.” said Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff. “Today’s decision is an important step towards that goal and immediately increases both fan interest and the media value of our football league game.”

The DI Council also approved recommendations from the Football Oversight Committee intended to facilitate the management of the list, lifting the annual cap of 25 scholarships.

While the 25 so-called initial counters maximum would be removed as part of the proposal for the next two years, the overall purse limit of 85 per team in the Bowl Subdivision and 63 in the Championship Subdivision will remain in place. The change, backed by the American Football Coaches’ Association, aims to help teams replenish rosters that have been squeezed by transfers.

A proposal was still pending to define designated periods during which players can enter the transfer portal and be immediately eligible for a new school. The coaches offered two multi-week dates, starting after the end of the regular season in late fall and after spring training ends, usually in late April.

The Pac-12 said its current nine-game division-based conference schedule will be unchanged for the 2022 season, but patterns for future seasons will be reviewed.

The ACC is considering a 3-5-5 model for football scheduling that would have teams playing three opponents as permanent scheduling partners each year, then rotating the other 10 teams over two seasons in the eight-game schedule ( five one year, five the next).

The change addresses two issues with the current seven-team splits and a permanent cross-rival setup: Conference members go years without playing each other and lopsided splits that have sometimes created lopsided matchups in the league title game.

Without divisions, a conference would be more likely to have its two most accomplished teams in its championship game and improve its chances of having a team or two selected for the college football playoffs.

The Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference are also considering future planning models and whether to stick with divisions.

The Big 12 is considering a return to a divisional setup as it prepares to welcome four new members in 2023, which could bring the number of teams in the conference to 14, at least temporarily.

Texas and Oklahoma are expected to leave the Big 12 after the 2024 season and join the Southeastern Conference. New Big 12 members BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are expected to join the conference by 2023.

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