Pac-12 ditches divisions, title game participants to be determined by win percentage
It had been talked about for weeks, but on Wednesday the NCAA Division I Council officially voted to relax restrictions on FBS conference championship games, giving leagues the ability to now determine the participants however they chose. That decision was largely expected to lead to the power conference scrapping divisional structures.
And shortly after word came down from the NCAA, the Pac-12 became the first to do exactly that.
Beginning immediately with the 2022 season, the Pac-12 conference championship game will feature the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage, regardless of which division they belong to. The 2022 schedule will remain the same, but the league says “scheduling scenarios for seasons beyond 2022 will continue to be reviewed.”
Divisions are done.
NEWS: We've announced a change to the #Pac12FCG format. 🏈
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) May 18, 2022
“Our goal is to place our two best teams in our Pac-12 Football Championship Game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to optimize CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said in a statement. “Today’s decision is an important step towards that goal and immediately increases both fan interest in, and the media value of, our Football Championship Game.”
The Pac-12 says this change would have resulted in a different title matchup in five of the previous 11 seasons.
In 2011, Stanford would have faced Oregon in the title game instead of UCLA. In 2012, they would have met again instead of the UCLA-Stanford matchup. In 2015, Oregon would have replaced USC in the game. In 2018, Washington State would have replaced Utah. And in 2020, Colorado would have been the team to play USC rather than Washington (which couldn’t play, so the spot was awarded to Oregon, the No. 2 in the North).
The league said its new format passed with unanimous support from Pac-12 head football coaches, athletic directors, and its board of directors.