David Shaw fired back.
At other conferences. At “the most ridiculous article I've seen in 14 years from one of the guys on this (Zoom) call.” At naysayers who said the Pac-12 had no interest in playing a 2020 football season.
Oh, and Stanford University's veteran head coach likewise advocated for an expanded College Football Playoffs – especially amidst a truncated season in which some ACC teams have scheduled 11 games while the Pac-12 has opted for a six-game slate to precede is league title bout on Dec. 19.
“I can look my guys in the eye and say everything we've done in our conference has been for their health and their safety,” Shaw told reporters Wednesday. “We're not giving into pressure from other conferences, not giving into pressure from other groups. We've had to endure the fallout of one of the most ridiculous articles I've ever seen in 14 years from one of the guys on this call.
“I stand firm on the things that we've done and how we've done them. I feel great about what we've done, I feel great about how we got to where we are. I feel great about the lead time that we have to get ready for the season. Would I love another couple weeks? Absolutely. But is Nov. 7 doable? Absolutely.”
The Pac-12 had initially cancelled its 2020 season, sent its student-athletes home and, Shaw said, transitioned from a preseason conditioning program into an offseason mode. Now the league, if all goes as planned, will see its 12 teams play a six-game regular-season, with three games at home and three on the road.
The league has scheduled its title game for Friday, Dec. 18.
And Shaw has urged the CFP to include all Power-5 conferences, sooner than later.
“Well, I'll say the easy answer is the one thing that's not gonna happen, which is expand the playoff,” Shaw said. “Whether it's six or eight (teams), at some point in time, it's going to happen. We all know it. We all believe it. We're just going to do it very, very slowly and methodically. But it's the only thing that makes sense. It's the only thing that actually seems fair and equitable. To have a very difficult in-conference schedule like we always have, with a very difficult out-of-conference schedule like we always have. And to be compared to conferences that have a lesser out-of-conference schedule and fewer conference games.
“There's an inequity there. The only thing that should matter is did you fight really, really hard to win your conference. If you did, then you should get a ticket to the dance. Now, outside of those five, now who deserves it? You have to look at those independents? Look at the No. 2 team in some of those conferences.”
Shaw said this piecemeal season across the sport has presented the right opportunity for playoff expansion, though Shaw made clear he has no belief it could happen in time for the 2020 CFP.
“That would be the only thing that makes all kinds of sense now,” Shaw said. “Because you'll have some teams who have a 12-game schedule, but they may play 10. You'll have some teams who have an eight-game schedule, but they may play six. We may have some in our conference who have a six-game schedule, or seven-game schedule, and play five. Or four.
“There's no way to truly tell with no crossover games or very few crossover games from conference to conference. The playoff committee is going to have a difficult job ahead, and I don't envy them. I know they are conscientious human beings, I know they'll do the best job that they can. But eventually we''re just going to have to expand it, because it's the only thing that makes sense.”
While Shaw, on advisory committees for both his conference and the NCAA, acknowledged the Pac-12 had likely been “overreacting,” he shot back against the rivals.
“We're still in the midst of a pandemic,” Shaw said. “We've had to deal with the issues from other conferences, both in recruiting space and people just lobbing Molotov cocktails with our conference.
“Which, I'm fine with that. People have a right to say whatever they want to say. A lot of it has a recruiting base.”