An ESPN poll of college football coaches from the Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 -- the Power Five conferences -- concluded that the majority favored non-conference schedules against only teams within the Power Five. Count Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez as the minority, especially within his own conference.
RichRod was the only Pac-12 coach who said he wouldn't be against scheduling opponents from smaller conferences. Four Pac-12 coaches were undecided, while the other seven favored the idea that teams would only play schools from Power Five conferences.
YES: Arizona State's Todd Graham, Oregon's Mark Helfrich, Oregon State's Mike Riley, Stanford's David Shaw, UCLA's Jim Mora, Washington's Chris Petersen, USC's Steve Sarkisian
NO: Arizona's Rich Rodriguez
Undecided: Cal's Sonny Dykes, Colorado's Mike MacIntyre, Utah's Kyle Whittingham, Washington State's Mike Leach
It makes sense for the undecided coaches to be on the fence. All of Cal, Colorado, Utah and Washington State have used weaker non-conference schedules to build themselves up before reaching the slaughter-house of the Pac-12. Arizona has done the same and is likely to take a little flak for having such a weak schedule this season. Rodriguez, however, made a simple but good point:
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, the lone dissenting Pac-12 coach, said "some of those [Group of Five teams] are better than the so-called 'haves' [Power Five teams]."
There is strong reasoning behind the opposing viewpoint, and it makes sense why the voting in the Pac-12 gravitated so much in the direction away from Rodriguez. Pac-12 coaches have been open about having a tough go with a nine-game conference slate (plus a title game), where as the SEC, Big Ten and ACC have an eight-game conference slate. The Big 12, which only has 10 teams, has a nine-game round-robin slate without a title game like the old Pac-10. That's one less opportunity to avoid playing against a team in a deep conference. The Pac-12 arguably has more parity and depth than any other conference, and the league would like other Power Five conference teams to have more opportunity for slip-ups.
At the end of the day, the discussion is about creating schedules across the country that most resemble one another. And at the end of the day, this all continues the same issues we had under the BCS: How do we compare teams and determine who is the best if their success came in very different forms?