USC AD Lynn Swann shades Pac-12 with strength-of-schedule comments

By Jesse Reed

There is a lot of talk about whether the Pac-12 is as good as some of the other Power-Five conferences in college football. Trojans athletic director Lynn Swann thinks something needs to be done to balance the scales, and his comments on the matter could rub others in the conference the wrong way.

“Because of time zones, people on the East Coast aren’t really seeing us,” Swann said in a Q&A session with The Orange County Register. “We have to play a tougher schedule. If the voters are going to look at four teams to be in the top four, the Pac-12 playing the Pac-12 won’t get it by itself.”

Ouch.

Though, he’s not exactly wrong. Based on the way the rankings have played out in recent years, it’s safe to say those who make the final decisions believe the Pac-12 to be less of a challenge than the SEC, ACC or Big Ten.

“We have to schedule teams and we have to have that very competitive schedule to be able to get that look,” Swann said. “And we’ve got to win those games. So it’s important to have Texas on the schedule. It’s important that Notre Dame is playing well and we play them and we beat them along the way.”

To Swann’s point here, winning those games is vitally important. USC’s loss to Notre Dame this past season was the death knell for the program’s national championship aspirations. The Trojans ended up losing two games, and in the end they were on the fringe of the conversation for the fourth and final playoff spot, well behind Alabama and Ohio State, despite winning the Pac-12 (much to the Pac-12 president’s chagrin).

So far, USC has yet to compete in a College Football Playoff, and the program has its work cut out if that trend is going to change this upcoming season. We know that the Pac-12 cannibalizes itself, and this past year was no exception, especially with no bye week for USC.

Swann really isn’t wrong about any of this. The Pac-12 has done itself no favors in recent years, and due to the fact that many games are scheduled so late in the evening the big wigs in the east don’t watch many of their games. Something has to change, or the conference won’t emerge from the shadows any time soon.