The Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences have both officially been played for (football) fools.
On Monday, the Atlantic Coast Conference joined the Southeastern Conference in announcing it would stick to an eight-game league schedule.
So much for the "kumbaya" notion of a level playing field as we lurch forward into the new four-team playoff.
It was generally thought all five major conferences would move to nine-game schedules for the new system in which four playoff teams will be selected each year by a selection committee.
But, as five leagues stood on the decision cliff, only three leagues jumped on the count of three.
The SEC and ACC stayed back and laugh. Why should they jump?
The Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 will all be on nine-game league schedules by 2016. The Pac 12 and Big Ten play nine games and a conference title game. The Big 12 plays nine but dropped its title game after the defections of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC left the league with only 10 teams.
Why is all of this important?
The Pac-12 will play nine league games in a 12-team conference league while the SEC and ACC will play eight in 14.
If the goal is overall system fairness, that just doesn't add up.
More random misses can complicate how accurately conference strength can be accessed by the selection committee.
The SEC claims it addressed the issue by mandating all of its schools play at least one nonleague team from "Big Five" conferences.
The ACC has a slightly stronger case for staying at eight because of its recent partnership with Notre Dame. The Irish will play five ACC opponents each season.
USC and Stanford, though, play nine league games and Notre Dame every year.
Playing nine conference games in a tough league simply increases the chance of incurring a loss that eliminates you from title consideration.
Stanford played one of the nation's toughest schedules last year but finished with two Pac-12 defeats.
The Pac-12 was considered the second best conference behind the SEC.
The second league loss pushed the Cardinal to fifth in the final Bowl Championship Series standings, which would have eliminated the school in a four-team playoff.
It will be left to the 13-person College Football Playoff selection committee to sort out the scheduling shell games being played out in diluted conferences.
We can only hope the committee is up to the task.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times