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Pac-12’s Scott says Big 12 needs title game

The four-team College Football Playoff is a lucrative game of musical chairs for the Power Five conferences.

When the music stopped after the conference championship games last Saturday night, the Pac-12 was the one left standing without a seat.

Pac-12 champion Stanford finished No. 6 in the selection committee’s final rankings and will have to settle for another trip to the Rose Bowl to face No. 5 Iowa.

Oklahoma earned the No. 4 spot after winning the Big 12, which has a nine-game round-robin conference schedule during the regular season but no conference championship game.

“I’d like to see more consistency rather than less,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told CBSSports.com. “I’d like to see the Big 12 go to a championship game. I don’t think it’s good or fair to see a conference not have to win that extra game and have that extra opportunity both for a win and a loss.

“I don’t like the idea that a champion can be in the clubhouse and not put it on the line when, in this case, there are strong teams in other conferences that if they lose can be out of the playoff.”

Clemson is the top seed after getting a favorable call on an onside kick and holding off North Carolina in the ACC championship. The ACC plays an eight-game conference schedule.

No. 2 Alabama dominated Florida in the SEC championship. The SEC is also sticking with an eight-game conference schedule.

No. 3 Michigan State outlasted Iowa in the Big Ten championship. The Big Ten is moving to a nine-game schedule, which the Pac-12 already plays, beginning next season.

Scott said the Pac-12’s exclusion from the national semifinals isn’t the reason he wants the Big 12 to add a conference title game.

“With a couple plays here or there, Stanford or Oregon would be in the playoff,” Scott noted. “That’s the nature of the competitiveness of college football right now. I think we as commissioners all understand how thin a margin it is between having a team in the playoff and not, and it’s not necessarily an indication of the strength of the conference.”

The Big 12, which was left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff, announced Tuesday that its members must schedule at least one nonconference game against a Power 5 conference team or Notre Dame every year.

Last year the Big 12 co-champions were left out of the inaugural playoff. One-loss Baylor played a weak nonconference slate, and TCU moved from No. 3 to No. 6 in final rankings.

“I don’t know that two years makes a trend,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said after Oklahoma was included in this year’s bracket. "But clearly we know now that you don’t have to have a championship game to play in this playoff.”

Going forward, Big 12 teams will be allowed to schedule only one FCS opponent per season. The new rules won’t affect games already scheduled; Baylor and Kansas are the only Big 12 teams without a Power Five nonconference game lined up for 2016.

ACC teams must play at least one Power Five nonconference game starting in 2017. Notre Dame already has an agreement to play five ACC teams per season.

The SEC, which dominated the BCS era, is also requiring its members to play at least one nonconference game against a Power Five team.

“Schedule strength is a key component in selection committee deliberations,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “This move will strengthen the resumes for all Big 12 teams. Coupled with the nine-game, full round-robin conference schedule our teams play, it will not only benefit the teams at the top of our standings each season, but will impact the overall strength of the conference.”

Oregon, which defeated Michigan State last season and won the Pac-12 en route to the College Football Playoff, opens the 2016 season against UC Davis (FCS) before playing two Power Five nonconference opponents — Virginia (ACC) and Nebraska (Big Ten).