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ASU’s Todd Graham: Nine conference games make sense

Four of the five power football conferences play or are moving towards a nine-game league schedule with the ACC playing eight games plus having five of its teams play Notre Dame each season.

The exception here is the SEC.

Earlier this week the conference announced it would stick with an eight-game league schedule, a decision that was discussed repeatedly during the Pac-12 football spring media teleconference on Thursday.

ASU head coach Todd Graham was among those who weighed in with an opinion.

“Especially with a four-game playoff and people having to make selections for who those four teams are, my deal is that it all should be on an equal playing field. I do think everybody should play the same amount of conference games,” he said.

“We’re guaranteeing half our teams in our league a loss by playing a ninth conference game. But for our fans, they would much rather see a ninth conference game than us playing a 1-AA team or something like that. I think it makes fiscal sense.”

The added revenue certainly certainly is a nice bonus, but more importantly according to Graham, as he mentioned previously, is the fan experience.

“They like seeing that extra conference game because that’s obviously a completely different atmosphere and a completely different opponent than playing another mid-major or 1-AA,” he said. “I know our players want to play in, I want to coach in (those games). We played Notre Dame and Wisconsin last year and I really think it made us a better football team because we played that.”

The Sun Devils beat Wisconsin and lost to Notre Dame on their way to winning 10 games and the Pac-12 South Division.

“The NFL would not have the NFC playing so many conference games and then the AFC playing different,” the third-year head coach said. “I think it should be, especially with a playoff system we ought to be able to come together and say, ‘hey, everybody is going to play nine conference games or eight conference games, whatever you want to play.’ But I think nine makes sense.”

Graham also thinks it makes sense for every conference to stage a postseason conference championship game.

And that’s not all.

“What I hope to see in the future, obviously I don’t want to throw gas on the fire, but I think the conference champion should mean something. I’d love to see it where there was an eight-game playoff where if you win the Pac-12 you should be in the playoff. That way you could have five automatic bids and then you have three at-large,” he said.

“It’s not a perfect system. I think it’s better. I’m glad we’ve got the playoff. I’m glad we’re keeping the tradition of the bowls intact. I think that’s big, especially how we feel about the Rose Bowl.”

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