Bowlsby: Strength of schedule will be part of the playoff

SAN DIEGO -- Bob Bowlsby has 14 days left as Stanford athletic director, and despite that, there didn't seem to be a tinge of awkwardness at the Pac-12's annual summer meetings as conference leaders shuffled past the next Big 12 commissioner in a low-key hotel ballroom on Saturday.

"I've got a lot of investment in the Pac-12, so it wasn't awkward at all. They didn't even make me go out in the hallway for some of the discussions," Bowlsby said with a chuckle. "I don't really know that we were going to talk about anything that I didn't already know. I don't know if I spoke up much except when I was called upon."

Though he had to take a few breaks to make a call on one of his two iPhones or send an email on one of his two iPads, Bowlsby was welcomed by his soon-to-be-former colleagues and, as the AD for one of the most important athletics programs in the country, was able to speak freely and offer his opinions on a day reserved mostly for basic governance tasks and committee updates.

"From my perspective, it's great that he's [running] the Big 12 because I certainly have a good idea about how he thinks about things," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. "Obviously he's going to be responsible to his leadership and what they want to do, but he's had a big influence on the Pac-12 positions up until now.

"Certainly when he was in our conference he was aligned with how we were thinking and represented Stanford well."

The Pac-12 presidents will meet on Sunday to formalize the conference's opinion regarding the college football postseason after two days of input from various groups. Though much has been made about the different stance the five major conferences are taking over the past couple of days, Bowlsby doesn't see that big of a gulf between everybody after arriving in San Diego fresh off of several days of Big 12 meetings in Kansas City.

"There are a few things that we view slightly differently but I don't think the differences of opinion are all that substantial," he said. "A lot has been made of the Pac-12/Big Ten position and the Big 12/SEC position but from what I understand from these negotiations is that it has been as collegial as anything that anybody has witnessed in recent time. I think it will continue to be that way. I know all the players and I'm anxious to get going."

The SEC has been steadfast in supporting the top four teams, regardless whether they won the conference, getting into the playoff -- a position the Big 12 shares. Scott reiterated his position Friday to and while Bowlsby has taken the opposite approach he did reveal that elements of the Pac-12's plan will likely find their way into the final system.

"The [Pac-12's] preference is to have conference championships, or at least divisional championships, built into it," Bowlsby said. "I think all of us agree that some component on strength of schedule is really important. The regular season is so special, but having said that, the early regular season is not as good as it needs to be. We need to encourage people to play games like LSU and Oregon played last year without the risk of taking themselves out of the national championship hunt.

"I think there will be a component of strength of schedule that will be a part of the playoff. I'm quite comfortable in saying that. How we land beyond that will be a topic of debate and discussion."

The new BCS contract, which could run as long as 10 years, is expected to result in a large jump in revenue headed to the conferences. While nobody has pegged how much and in what way it will be distributed, the incoming Big 12 commissioner did disclose that the money  would not be limited to only the five major conferences.

"My understanding of it is that all of Division I-A football [FBS] needs to participate in the postseason proceeds," said Bowlsby. "How it gets divided up proportionally to the major conferences versus the other five or six and how it gets divided up based on those that are participating in the playoff, my understanding is there really hasn't been much math done on it. It was a big step getting people to utter the 'P' [playoff] word, but between that and playing the games, there's a lot of details to work out."

Bowlsby also added that once the postseason is figured out, he sees a settling of conference expansion with neither his current league nor his future league considering adding any schools in the coming months.

"I'm pretty comfortable in telling you the Pac-12 hasn't had any conversations about adding anybody since the last round, and I'd be surprised if they had any going forward," he said. "In the case of the Big 12, everything I've heard from presidents and athletic directors is that we feel really good about 10 right now. That isn't to say that we wouldn't ever consider expansion but its going to have to be somebody that brings really substantial value to the league."

The Pac-12 wraps up its summer meetings on Sunday.

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