Pac-10: The Conference of Ups and Downs

David HedlindAnalyst IIJanuary 10, 2009

The Pac-10 has been the most varied conference in the country.

What does that mean?

No other conference has had the varied successes and downs that the schools in the Pac-10 have had.

Yes, right now we can all pick USC to win the conference and you would be making a pretty safe bet. This wasn’t true when the BCS started.

Yes, Washington was the only team without a win and arguably the worst team in the country this season. They were No. 3 in 2000.

In the world of college football there is a very “What have you done for me lately” attitude. People can throw stats all around but it is easy to adjust those to fit your needs.

One school can boast about the most wins ever, while another will say we have the most this decade. One school can claim the most bowl appearance ever but maybe they lose a lot of them so they don’t talk about that part.

I feel that since the current era of football uses the BCS to determine the champion, I am going to use the BCS years here.


Conference Titles

So how would someone decide that there has been varied success happenings in the conference when, like I said, right now USC is dominating?

First of all, they aren’t dominating as easily as a lot of people think. Three of their seven Pac-10 titles were split. Washington State, Cal and Arizona State have all shared the title with them.

Oregon, in 2001, was the last team to win it outright before USC’s current run.

In 2000 Oregon shared it with Oregon State and Washington, their biggest rivals.

In 1999 Stanford, yes Stanford, was the top of the Pac-10.

That brings us to the first year of the BCS, and UCLA was the champion of the Pac-10.

Did you follow me through all that? If you count the schools I named, nine out of 10 teams have won or shared the conference title since the BCS began.

The one school that didn’t win it was Arizona. They were second place that first year, having only lost one game to the champ, UCLA. The Wildcats went on to beat 14th-ranked Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

Compared to the other major conferences:

(I am only going to count those by current schools of the conference)

ACC has had four champs out of 12 schools

Big 10 has had eight champs out of 11 schools

Big 12 has had six champs out of 12 schools

Big East has had five champs out of 8 schools

SEC has had six champs out of 12 schools.

Only the Big 10 was close to the percentage of schools that had either won or shared the conference title in the last 11 seasons, and even that wasn’t that close.

Pac-10: 90 percent of the schools have won or shared the title.

Big 10: 72 percent of the schools have won or shared the title.



A lot of people base their opinion for what they consider success on the rankings. I am not going to look at who was ranked preseason because a lot of those turn into busts by mid-season.

I am not going to look at week-by-week standings because who really cares who was ranked in week 4 before even getting into conference play.

That’s usually when most schools play all their DI-AA and “easy” win teams from the non-BCS conferences. I am going to go based off of the last AP rankings of the season.

1998 4 Arizona, 8 UCLA

1999 19 Oregon

2000 3 Washington, 4 Oregon State, 7 Oregon

2001 2 Oregon, 10 Washington State, 16 Stanford, 19 Washington

2002 4 USC, 10 Washington State,

2003 1 USC, 9 Washington State

2004 1 USC, 9 Cal, 19 Arizona State

2005 2 USC, 13 Oregon , 16 UCLA, 25 Cal

2006 4 USC, 14 Cal, 21 Oregon State

2007 3 USC, 16 Arizona State, 23 Oregon , 25 Oregon State

2008 3 USC, 10 Oregon, 18 Oregon State

The Pac-10 has had all 10 of their teams ranked at least once in the final AP rankings during the BCS era. All of them have been ranked 16 or higher with eight of the ten achieving top 10 finishes.

No other conference has had all its members ranked in the final top 25. No other conference has had eight schools finish top 10 or 80 percent of the conference in the top 10.

Instead of listing all the schools for the other conferences, I am simply going to tell you which ones have not been ranked at season's end. Again, I am only going to count the current schools in the conference.


ACC: Duke, North Carolina

Big 10: Indiana, Northwestern

Big 12: Baylor

Big East: Connecticut, USF

SEC: Kentucky, Vanderbilt


Big 12 has had 11 schools in, and the SEC and ACC have had 10 schools, which is the same amount, but they still can’t say every member has been in the standings.

ACC: Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Boston College. Four of 12 have finished top 10.

Big 10: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin. Six of 11 have finished top 10

Big 12: Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas. Seven of 12 have finished top 10

Big East: West Virginia and Louisville. Two of 8 have finished top 10

SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Tennessee. Six of 12 have finished top 10.

Like I said, the Pac-10 had 80 percent of its schools finish top 10. The closest conference here was the Big 12 with a 58 percent. Not even in the same ballpark.


BCS Bowls

Having a winning season and making a bowl game is one of the primary goals for teams. Right now, all a team needs is a 6-6 record and in merely look better than all the other 6-6 teams.

The bigger goal than just making a bowl is making a BCS bowl. These bowls have become a class of bowls all their own.

Since the BCS started the Pac-10 has had 7 schools make an appearance. USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Stanford, UCLA and Washington State have all played in a BCS bowl. They have a record of 9-4 in BCS Bowls which is a win % of .692.

Comparing # of schools and records with the other conferences shows;

ACC has had five different schools with a record of 5-10 for a win % of .333

Big 10 has had seven schools as well with a record of 8-11 for a win % of .421

Big 12 has had seven schools as well with a record of 7-9 for a win % of .438

Big East has had five schools with a record of 3-3 for a win % of .500

SEC has had six schools with a record of 12-5 with a win % of .710

Comparing to the other conferences the Pac-10 has a better win percentage than all but the SEC. The Pac 10 does have one more school that has been in a BCS bowl, though.


The Highs and The Lows

So far I have only been talking about the up sides of the conference, but I did say that no other conference has had the ups and downs as the teams from the Pac-10. Here is a list of the high points and low points for each team. Again using only the final standing.

Arizona: High- 1998 #4 12-1. Low- 2003 2-10

Arizona State: High- 2007 10-3 #16 Split Pac-10 title. Low- 2001 4-7

Cal: High 2004 10-2 #9, 2006 10-3 #19 Split Pac-10 title. Low- 2001 1-10

Oregon: High- 2001 11-1 #2 Pac-10 title. Low- 2004 5-6

Oregon State: High 2000 11-1 #4 Split Pac-10 title. Low- 2005 and 1998, 2001, 2005 5-6

Southern Cal: High 2004 13-0 #1 Pac-10 title, National Championship. Low- 2000 5-7

Stanford: High 1999 8-4 Pac-10 title, 2001 9-3 #16. Low- 2006 1-11

UCLA: High 1998 10-2 #8 Pac-10 title. Low- 2008 4-8

Washington: High- 2000 11-1 #3 Split Pac-10 title. Low- 2008 0-12

Washington State: High- 2002 10-3 #10 Split Pac-10 title. 2003 10-3 #9. Low- 2008 2-11

Every school has experienced success and defeat. Every team has had years where they were home during bowl season.

When you look at the other conferences, there is at least one team that has not had a losing season in any of the BCS years. These are the schools that have not had a losing season since 1998.

ACC- Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech

Big 10- Ohio State

Big 12- Texas, Texas Tech

Big East- USF (since joining the Big East)

SEC- Florida, Georgia

The top and the bottom of the Pac-10 has flipped and switched over and over since the start of the BCS. The conference has only one team right now that has established itself among the nation's elite.

There are a couple that are on the up right now that are gaining ground. Three schools had their worst seasons here in 2008.

With the way the conference has shown though, it could only be a matter of time before USC, Oregon and Oregon State are at the bottom and Washington and Washington State are on top again.