Closing Numbers: The Intra-conference crunch

As the final seconds wound from the Rose Bowl clock, it was USC notching another victory over UCLA in a game that instantly became the answer to trivia questions for years to come.   That December 4th meeting  marked the final Pac 10 contest to be played, and fittingly pitted the league’s biggest rivals against a storied backdrop.

The Trojans and Bruins combined for 22 titles in a conference that saw each member earning at least a share during its 33-year existence.  Not only is it an amazing accomplishment for a league perceived as “Top-Heavy”, it’s also a statement that can be made by no other.

Of the current membership in the five remaining BCS conferences, six SEC programs have never hoisted the league trophy during the same span, with longtime member Mississippi State last perched on the  throne in 1941.  The situation was similar in the Big XII, where half the membership went without a crown.  Minnesota and Indiana failed to capture the Big 10 prize, just as Rutgers and newcomer South Florida failed in the Big East.  Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC since its arrival, and surprisingly, former Big East power Miami, hasn’t found the same success in its new location. Along with the Canes, another more recent arrival, Boston College, has yet to stake a claim in the ACC title.

Pac 10 Championships by school

  • USC 15
  • UCLA 7
  • Washington 7
  • Oregon 5
  • Arizona St. 3
  • Stanford 2
  • Washington St. 2
  • Oregon St. 1
  • Cal 1
  • Arizona 1

Three schools, Arizona, Cal, and Oregon State, failed to make a single Rose Bowl appearance. . At one point, each collected enough victories to boast as a champion, but failed to secure the tie-breaker to win best in show.

Intra-conference winning percentage 1978-2010

School Games W L T %
USC 262 182 75 5 .704
Washington 265 156 106 3 .594
UCLA 265 151 109 5 .579
Oregon 263 144 117 2 .551
Arizona St. 257 131 122 4 .518
Arizona 265 128 131 6 .494
Stanford 266 120 143 3 .457
California 270 107 158 5 .406
Washington St. 266 101 161 4 .387
Oregon State 265 81 179 5 .315

Despite periods of highs and lows, USC dominated the Pac 10 like no other. And as reflected on the other side of the spectrum, Oregon State was the statistical worst. The Beavers not only failed to win 100 conference games, they also recorded more winless seasons than any other member.

Winless seasons in conference 1978-2010

  • Oregon State (5) -1980, 1981, 1987, 1992, 1995
  • Washington (2)- 2004,2008
  • Washington St.- 1998, 2009
  • Cal (1)- 2001

The most recent bouts with futility can be found in the Evergreen state. And though they are quickly written off as bad coaching selections, two hires in the south factored in.

Pete Carroll and Jeff  Tedford are noted for the quick turnaround of programs inherited, but success on the field began with closing a pipeline that once flowed north. During the Trojans and Bears rebuilding process, Cal and USC managed to keep elite in-state talent at home, which in effect crippled programs once fueled by defection.

Perfect seasons in conference 1978-2010

  • USC (3)- 1988, 2004, 2005
  • Washington (1)- 1991
  • UCLA (1)- 1998
  • Oregon (1)- 2010

The Trojans won a national championship on the heels of a perfect Pac 10 slate in 2004, as did the Huskies in ’91. Subsequent losses to Miami and Auburn kept the Bruins and Ducks from achieving the same. Overall, Southern California and Washington accounted for the league’s four national titles earned between 1978 and 2010. The SEC recently secured its fifth in as many years (2006-2010), with four schools contributing to the feat.

Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, The Pac 10 has only qualified for the championship game on three occasions. In each instance, unlike the more popular conferences, regular season perfection was a prerequisite to getting there. And as a result of sanctions against USC, one BCS trip is wiped clean from the ledgers, though AP honors are retained.

Intra-conference winning percentage 2000-2010

School Games W L %
USC 93 69 24 .742
Oregon 93 66 27 .710
Oregon St. 93 55 38 .591
California 93 46 47 .495
UCLA 93 43 50 .462
Arizona St. 93 41 52 .441
Stanford 93 41 52 .441
Washington 93 36 57 .387
Arizona 93 34 59 .366
Washington St. 93 34 59 .366

Since the turn of the century, Oregon has been the biggest riser. And unbeknownst to most, the Ducks have won just three fewer games in conference than the consensus program of the decade. Even so, the quack attack has entered each season as an under the radar program, and it’s due in part to the little hardware collected on the path of multiple wins. Though league dominance is nearly equal to USC, Oregon has faltered in some of the biggest games, thereby creating a perceptual imbalance between itself and the conference’s most heralded program.


The coveted Heisman Trophy was presented to five Pac 10 players since 1978. Only the SEC (7) and Big XII (8) collected more stiff-arms during the period. But unlike the other power conferences, the Pac didn’t share the wealth. USC produced all five winners, also placing a pair of Trojans as runner-ups.

Pac 10 Heisman winners

  • 1979 Charles White (USC)
  • 1981 Marcus Allen (USC)
  • 2002 Carson Palmer (USC)
  • 2004 Matt Leinart (USC)
  • 2005 Reggie Bush (USC)

Pac 10 Heisman runner-up

  • 1982 John Elway, 3rd (Stanford)
  • 1988 Rodney Peete, 2nd (USC)
  • 1988 Troy Aikman, 3rd (UCLA)
  • 1996 Jake Plummer, 3rd (Arizona State)
  • 1997 Ryan Leaf, 3rd (Washington State)
  • 1998 Cade McNown, 3rd (UCLA)
  • 2005 Matt Leinart, 3rd (USC)
  • 2009 Toby Gerhart, 2nd (Stanford)
  • 2010 Andrew Luck, 2nd (Stanford)
  • 2010 LaMichael James, 3rd (Oregon)


Though we bid farewell to a conference that stood longer than most, and current participants prepare to play beneath a new brand, the former logo is permanently stamped across the NFL. Some names are bigger than others, with a select group immortalized in bronze within the halls of history.

Aaron Rodgers piloted his Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title, becoming the fourth Pac 10 quarterback to do so, and marking the seventh Lombardi trophy between them. The list of Super Bowl gunners would include  John Elway, Mark Rypien, Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, and Chris Chandler. Elway and Aikman combined for five league championships, which eventually led to an induction in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. Their names accompanied others in Canton who shared the same conference stomping grounds.

Player School Draft year Enshrined
Anthony Munoz USC 1980 1998
Ronnie Lott USC 1981 2000
Marcus Allen USC 1982 2003
John Elway Stanford 1983 2004
Bruce Matthews USC 1983 2007
Gary Zimmerman Oregon 1984 2008
Randall McDaniel Arizona St. 1988 2009
Troy Aikman UCLA 1989 2006

In an age of transformation, the Pacific 12 prepares for its inaugural season. We welcome the new additions, while anticipating the same quality standards of old.  Embodied by history and tradition, the book is now closed on ten. And as the pigskin spins end to end beneath new autumn skies, we will script an opening chapter for twelve.


The out of conference crunch

Bowl Crunching


~ by Anthony on April 19, 2011.

One Response to “Closing Numbers: The Intra-conference crunch”

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