The Pac 10 is earning respect
Over the past seven seasons, no conference in America has been more maligned than the Pac 10. Some may disagree, feeling the Big East and ACC have also suffered a fair amount of criticism. But the difference is the representation of these conferences, and for seven consecutive years, Southern California has been the elite program of the Pac 10. The Trojans have been the league’s iconic symbol of the postseason, providing the face of the conference champion, as well as the body for national championship discussion.
From a national perspective, the league dominance provided little indication of the strength of USC, and was used to point out the weakness of the Pac 10. The Trojans’ strength was determined by victories over ranked out of conference opponents, which are often too few, and/or too late, to give the necessary push into title games. USC has made two appearances in the BCS championship game. That is the only representation by the Pac 10 in the eleven year existence of the system. In both instances, the Trojans needed to be perfect in the regular season to qualify, which again pointed more to games on a schedule and not talent on a roster.
The Trojans dropped another early season game to another member of their conference. And as much as the media frenzy has chosen to label Pete Carroll as a coach that can’t win the “little ones”, there is a vast difference in perspective now in comparison to year’s past.
With their play on the field, the Pac 10 has quickly shed the stereotype of being “USC and the 9 dwarfs”. The Washington team that nipped the Trojans by a field goal last Saturday had already gained national respect for their tenacity in an opening season loss to LSU. UCLA’s victory over Tennessee in Knoxville gave the conference their third consecutive victory over the Vols, and left the opposition’s school president singing praise to the Pac 10. Cal’s opening destruction of Maryland was followed by a road win oever Minnesota. Going back to the end of 2008, the Bears have now defeated 3 out of conference BCS opponents in their last 4 games. USC defeated Ohio State in the horseshoe, and Stanford went on the road to Wake Forest, where they were narrowly beaten on the last possession by the Demon Deacons.
Plenty of scrutiny came from the Pac’s miserable showing against the Mountain West a year ago, but the nation later learned to give the MWC their respect. Utah finished as the only major undefeated program for the 2008 season, claiming Nick Saban and mighty Alabama as another notch in their victory belt. BYU’s early season upset of then second ranked Oklahoma opened eyes to the Cougars victories over Washington and UCLA a year ago. Oregon dropped a game they could have easily won to the WAC’s Boise State in the season opener. They bounced back to dispose of Utah, ending the nation’s longest win streak.
Oregon State is notorious for slow starts, and it wasn’t surprising to see the Beavers defeated by Cincinnati last week. But the Beavers have finished strong in each of the past 3 years, and assisted the Pac 10 in their perfect 5-0 mark in bowl games last year. Arizona is rebuilding an offense. But despite the loss of the most prolific passer in the program’s history, the desert Cats managed to play Iowa tough before falling to defeat.
Bold scheduling has eventually made up for poor conference marketing, and the Pac 10 football is finally gaining recognition nationwide.
“The Big 12 has had a good two-year run, but it looks like the league is a clear No. 3 this year after the SEC and Pac-10.“–Heisman Pundit
The Wall Street Journal places the conferences in a different order, floating the Pac 10 to the top, and providing statistics to support their claim:
“Pac-10 has the best record in games against the other Bowl Championship Series conferences (81-62, a .566 winning percentage). The Pac-10 also has a .500-or-better record during this period against each of the other five major conferences. The SEC ranks second among the six BCS conferences with a .528 mark, while the other four conferences are all under .500. Bringing up the rear is the Big Ten with a .475 winning percentage.”
With the newfound acceptance and recognition of the power in the Pac 10, a one loss program may not necessarily be forced to the outside to look in at other one loss programs playing in a championship game. Unlike previous years, USC may not have suffered early elimination, but to prove it, the Trojans must fight on and be perfect from this point forward.
~ by Anthony on September 24, 2009.
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