UCLA will be playing Memphis in the Rose Bowl in 2014 and at Memphis in 2017, according to a release from Memphis (HT: FBSchedules). I have mixed feelings about this. I don't like the fact that we will not be able to play 7 home games in either 2014 or 2017 (unless the Pac-12 goes to an 8-game schedule, more on that later), and I'm not crazy about giving a home-and-home to a school like Memphis, but I think this is a smart match-up for a few reasons.
UCLA needs to get a little more aggressive about intelligent scheduling. The Bruins played 7 home games this year and paid off with the best record in years. The Pac-12's 9 game conference slate makes it tough, but we should try to play 7 home games when we can, or at least 7 home games in even years and 6 home games in odd years. One game against a BCS opponent, one game that we're pretty much guaranteed to win, and throw in another game that's an interesting matchup, a good trip, or can help with recruiting.
First, even though Memphis's football program is fairly downtrodden, the school is joining the Big East, which makes these two very winnable games against a "BCS" conference. Yeah, we all know the Big East probably shouldn't have a BCS automatic bid, but still, at least we aren't scheduling multiple games against Sun Belt or MAC teams.
Second, if you're going to schedule a road game, schedule it in an area where you would like to improve your recruiting, and the Southeast is an area we'd like to recruit more, with Memphis being one of the fertile recruiting areas in the Southeast. UCLA Football will be playing in Virginia and Texas in 2014, New Jersey in 2016, and Tennessee in 2017.
Finally, this could be a fun trip for Bruins fans. There is a lot of blues music history in Memphis, as well as great barbecue.
On the downside, it would have been nice to get two home games for one road game, and adding a road game for 2017 makes it look like another season without 7 home games. According to the current schedule, the Bruins will be stuck with only 6 home games through the 2017 season.
Which brings us to the next point. It's time for the Pac-12 to reevaluate the 9-game conference schedule. As the WWL's Ted Miller has argued:
Now, we get to brass tacks: What do the Big 12 and Pac-12 share that the ACC, SEC and Big Ten do not?
If you said a nine-game conference schedule, you should give yourself a hand, pin a rose on your nose and exclaim, "Larry Scott, can we please -- PLEASE! -- kill the nine-game conference schedule?!"
I know I write this like, I don't know, 43 times a year. But I'm writing this now because of this column from my buddy, David Ubben, the Big 12 blogger..
The Big Ten actually thought about going to a nine-game schedule. It got wise, perhaps because a certain blogger explained the math.
The nine-game conference schedule was adopted by the Pac-10 in 2006. It's always been a terrible idea, but at least back then there was a concrete justification: The Pac-10 played a full round-robin schedule and therefore crowned a true champion because everyone played everyone else, even if some years a complicated tie-breaking system was needed.
Now all it does, by definition, is drop six extra losses into the conference every year and create scheduling imbalance, with some teams having five home conference games and some with four. It hurts the conference in both the human and computer polls.
If the Pac-12 goes to an 8-game home schedule, it will be a lot easier to schedule 7 home games a year, which should help with records and should bring more money into the athletic department. It seems like a no-brainer.