Pac-10 football is not as glamorous as you may be led to believe. Since the Bowl Championship Series era began in 1998, the "other" 9 schools of the Pac-10 have rode USC's coat tails into stardom. In this one horse race of a conference, the other schools in the west coast's only BCS conference have been marginally good at best.
Nobody can dispute the claim that other than USC, the Pac-10 is above average at best, despite the constant hype surrounding the other 9 schools, which is undeserved. Let's peer back into the rearview mirror and compare the Pac-10 to the BCS's most undeserving conference, the ACC.
In the 1998 collegiate football season, the BCS was set in place to prove to be a more reliable means of determining a national champion. While that is not the topic at hand, 1998 began the 3-year run on BCS National Championship game runs for the ACC.
The Florida State Seminoles won the ACC and finished #2 in the BCS rankings that year. The 'Noles ultimately ended up losing to quarterback Tee Martin & his Tennessee Volunteers. Meanwhile, the Pac-10 champion UCLA was outmatched versus the Big Ten champion Wisconsin. The Badgers rolled to the tune of a 38-31 victory in the Rose Bowl.
Once again, the ACC was respresented by Florida State in the BCS National Championship. They were too much for Big East champion Virginia Tech as the Bobby Bowden-led Seminoles rallied 46-29 to claim the national championship. Virginia Tech would then go on to join the ACC in several years.
The Pac-10 was in another down year where their conference champion was none other than the Stanford Cardinal. Lacking tenacity on offense, the Cardinal suffered in a boring loss to the Big Ten champions Wisconsin Badgers. The only exciting thing about this bowl game is that it was played on the first day of Y2K.
For the third consecutive season, the Florida State Seminoles marched into the national championship. Unlike the season before though, the 'Noles would get their noses rubbed in the dirt against Oklahoma. The Sooners won 13-2.
The Pac-10 champion Washington Huskies ended up cruising past the lowly Big Ten champion Purdue Boilermakers in the Rose Bowl. This is also the first year that a Pac-10 school earned an at-large bid. Oregon State pummeled an undeserving Notre Dame squad 41-9 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Remember, 2000 was the first year of controversy over Notre Dame's BCS eligibility.
That season, the Fighting Irish started 2-3 before ripping off 7 straight wins. T.J. Houshmandzadeh's Beavers helped stop that win streak by stomping the Fighting Irish while they were down.
If you have forgotten the lowly Colorado Buffaloes of 2001, you must be off of your rocker. The Buffs snuck into the BCS landscape by winning the Big 12 in the championship game. As undeserving as they were, the Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks slaughtered Colorado 38-16.
Analysts still cite the 2001 Colorado Buffaloes as a reason to install a playoff format for determining a college football champion. Remember, the Nebraska Cornhuskers played for the national championship despite not even winning the Big 12 North Division. Colorado won the North.
The ACC became the laughingstock of the BCS in 2001 as a surprisingly tough Maryland Terps squad went to the FedEx Orange Bowl, representing the ACC, only to get destroyed by the at-large Florida Gators.
Also, the Big East champion Miami Hurricanes trounced Nebraska in the BCS title game. As we all know, Miami would go on to join the likes of Virginia Tech in the ACC.
The Pac-10 champion Washington State Cougars ended up taking several blows before a technical knockout from the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl.
Meanwhile, the ACC champion Florida State Seminoles had their hearts ripped out in a diminishing loss to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Finally, the USC Trojans earned their first trip to a BCS bowl game after receiving an at-large bid. The Trojans would end up blowing out Iowa Hawkeyes in a game that was hard on the 'Eyes
Big East champion Miami Hurricanes would end up losing in a controversial national championship to Ohio State.
The Pac-10 was won by USC this season. The ended up beating the Michigan Wolverins by two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl.
Florida State once again won the ACC but was beaten by rival Miami in the Orange Bowl, 16-14.
The ACC champion Virginia Tech Hokies, enjoying their first season in the ACC, cruised to the Nokia Sugard Bowl where they ended up facing an undefeated Auburn Tigers team. Auburn would beat the Hokies 16-13, and finish as the undefeated SEC champions, not even winning a share of the national championship.
This was the year where the Pac-10 champion USC Trojans won their first national title under head coach Pete Carroll. The Trojans obliterated an Oklahoma Sooners team riddled with question marks.
In 2004, Oklahoma won the Big 12 conference. Other than Texas going 11-1, the Big 12 was nothing to write home about. Auburn maneuvered their way to an undefeated season thanks to the leadership provided by 3 soon-to-be NFL first round draft picks.
We can only speculate on how things would have turned out if USC met Auburn in the national championship.
The Penn State Nittany Lions beat the ACC champ Florida State Seminoles 26-23 in three overtimes. This was a classic Joe Paterno versus Bobby Bowden matchup.
The Texas Longhorns beat the USC Trojans in one of the most memorable national championship games ever.
USC continued to flex its muscle as they whooped up on a down-trodden Michigan team that had plans for a national title.
ACC champion Wake Forest lunged into the Orange Bowl where they were dealt a 24-13 loss by Louisville.
Illinois received an at-large bid to play USC in the Rose Bowl. They simply didn't deserve it, Missouri did. While 3 teams from one conference can not play in the BCS, Kansas should have been left to play elsewhere while Illinois took on a more adequate opponent, the ACC champion Virginia Tech.
USC pounced all over Illinois in the Rose Bowl and Kansas up-ended Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
And the Dust Settles
After the brief history lesson, we must remember that until USC became a national powerhouse again in 2003, the Pac-10 was sending the likes of Washington State, Stanford, and others to the Bowl Championship Series.
When we take Southern Cal out of the equation, the Pac-10 is not much better than the ACC, therefore making it overrated.
Minus USC, the Pac-10 is 3-3 in the Bowl Championship Series. The ACC on the other hand is 1-9. In the BCS, USC weighs in at 5-1 by themselves. USC has been to two BCS national championships (1-1) while the rest of the Pac-10 has been to zero. The ACC has only sent one team to the BCS national championship -- Florida State (1-2). Still, the ACC has been to more BCS national championships than the Pac-10.
When we mix in Miami and Virginia Tech's BCS history, the story tends to a more illustrious history for the ACC in national championship games inside of the Bowl Championship Series than for the Pac-10.
The records favor the Pac-10, as they should, because it is a better conference but only because it is a one-horse race led by Pete Carroll's Trojans of Southern Cal.
The Mark Sanchez-led Trojans are currently 6-1. They lead the Pac-10 in just about every statistical category. Their only loss came at Oregon State.
The next best team in the Pac-10 is Oregon with a 6-2 record. California is 5-2 with losses at Maryland & at Arizona. Maryland is that "not very mighty" squad from the ACC that lost to Middle Tennessee State this season. To add insult to injury, Maryland also barely surpassed the not-so powerful Blue Hens of Delaware, a FCS school, 14-7.
The hype surrounding UCLA this season was unreal. We know it takes time to rebuild a franchise, but come on. UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, and Washington States combined record is 6-24 in the "oh, so mighty" Pac-10. Remember, USC plays all four of those pretenders.
Also, Arizona has lost to New Mexico, Stanford to TCU, UCLA to Fresno State, Arizona State to UNLV, and Washington State to Baylor. While TCU and Fresno State are very good non-BCS schools, the Pac-10 teams should be winning those if their conference is as good as the SEC or Big Ten.
The ACC is nothing to brag about. Compared to the Big 12 and SEC, the play in the ACC has been terrible since the inception of the BCS. Even in a year where the Big Ten is down, the ACC is very suspect.
Besides Maryland losing to Middle Tennessee State, Wake Forest has lost to Navy, North Carolina State was shut out by South Carolina, Virginia lost to Connecticut, Virginia Tech lost to East Carolina, and Duke lost to Northwestern.
Also, the ACC has six schools in the top 70 nationally in scoring offense compared to the Pac-10's three. In terms of scoring defense, the Pac-10 has five schools ranked in the top 70 while the ACC boasts a total of 10 schools in the top 70.
I am not saying that the ACC is a better conference than the Pac-10. I am just arguing the point that the playing field is as level as it is anywhere else. Minus USC, the Pac-10 is only 2 wins better than the ACC in the BCS (not including Miami or Virginia Tech).
In today's realm of college football, fans want results. Against ranked opponents, all ACC schools are a combined 10-7. For the Pac-10, they are 5-13 versus ranked opponents.
Folks, I admit that there is some east coast bias, but the west coast has to start living up to its reputation. The USC Trojans can't do it all by themselves. In one word, we can describe the Pac-10 conference: Overrated.