The Stanford Cardinal and the Oklahoma St. Cowboys probably believe they have their claims to be the true national champions of college football right along with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Neither team will get to prove themselves though, leaving us back with the same tomfoolery we tend to always get in January. And the calls for a playoff grow only stronger.
has talked a lot about making this conference stronger. The best way he can do it in the future is to support a tweak to encourage a plus-one system. He certainly seems to be considering it.
If there was a plus-one, I doubt there would have been much debate that Stanford (or Oregon, if you think the Ducks had the better strength of schedule and believe in conference champions being the representatives) and Oklahoma State would have both gone dancing. So at least one Pac-12 school would have been able to rep the conference, and gotten their chance to tilt with the best of the SEC.
Here's how it would've broken down.
#1 LSU vs. #4 Stanford/Oregon
#2 Alabama vs. #3 Oklahoma State
Hard not to see why these would be compelling matchups. Since Oregon has already gotten their shot at LSU, the Stanford-LSU matchup is compelling just to see how Andrew Luck fares against one of the most feared secondaries in all the land. Give LSU a game in Death Valley two weeks from now and see how both teams fare for this contest.
Then you have Alabama's defense matching up with Oklahoma State's offense. Alabama definitely has shown they can stop the best athletes and handle a spread offense like Arkansas, so you'd probably give the Tide the advantage, but at least it'd prove whether Mike Gundy and the Cowboys are worthy of a bid.
Doesn't this plus-one sound infinitely more compelling than another LSU-Alabama slopfest?
With USC returning to the mix and Oregon probably going nowhere, it's important for the Pac-12 to look at all opportunities that will maximize their presence at the biggest games. The conference had three nationally relevant teams, all of whom can lay claim to being the best in the conference. Yet they are rated a tier below the SEC (as is the Big 12 and Oklahoma State) because of the SEC's longstanding success in title games. The system is rigged to benefit a conference that has had so much success winning title after title, considering the heavy bias of human voting and huge blocs dedicated to God's conference.
If there was a plus-one system in place the last two years, there would have definitely been one member of the four-team playoff in 2011, and probably two (#2 Oregon, #4 Stanford) in 2010. USC 2008 would have had a puncher's chance too. Maximizing this conference's chances at getting national championships is the only way people around the country will start to respect what's happening out West, and perhaps pave the way for even better quality recruits to cast their eyes toward the Pacific.
There are many roads Scott has paved for the Pac-12 to become a nationally relevant conference. The plus-one is the next step to ensure they stay in the discussion every year.