Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pac-12 Conference: BCS's Weakest Link

It's easy to take shots at the woebegone Big East. The conference is being picked apart by vultures from Chicago to Greensboro. It's a year away from being sent from the first-class cabin to steerage aboard the HMS BCS. It's now even not above begging schools in Greenville and Fresno to take up membership.

But you know something? When it comes to playing against the big boys in the bowl season, the Big East has more than held its own. In fact, over the past three seasons, the Big East had the best bowl winning percentage of any conference, at .647 by going 11-6.

The conference that's truly the laughingstock of its brethren? If you're wondering, it's the one with the richest TV contract of them all: the Pac-12 conference.

Since Larry Scott took over as the commissioner in July 2009, he has done much to raise brand awareness of his conference. He didn't quite corral Texas and Oklahoma, but he did snatch Colorado and Utah to expand from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12 and add a conference title game. He negotiated a 12-year, 4.3-billion TV deal with FOX and ESPN, and launched a new Pac-12 Network. And he even held a preseason press conference in the Big Apple, making sure the conference of the Left Coast wasn't left out because of East Coast media bias.

But despite his efforts, the Pac-12's reputation has been growing mostly in marketing circles. On the football field, it's another story.

The 2009 season is a good demarcation in examining the conference's on-field fortunes. Besides being the first year of the Larry Scott regime, it also marked the start of the post-USC era. The Trojans had played in a record seven consecutive BCS bowls - winning six - between 2002-08. But their dynasty would soon crumble as a result of severe NCAA sanctions and the departure of coach Pete Carroll.

Between 2009-2011, the Pac-10/12 had the worst bowl record of any AQ conference, going 6-12 for a paltry .333 winning percentage. The Pac schools went 5-9 against fellow AQ conferences and 1-3 against non-AQ competition. Overall, the Pac ranked 10th, fifth and ninth out of the 11 conferences in those three seasons, respectively.

How AQ conferences fared in bowl games between 2009-2011 seasons:
  • Big East - 4-2, 4-2, 3-2 = 11-6 (.647)
  • SEC - 6-4, 5-5, 5-2 = 16-11 (.593)
  • Big 12 - 4-4, 3-5, 6-2 = 13-11 (.542)
  • Big Ten - 4-3, 3-5, 4-6 = 11-14 (.440)
  • ACC - 3-4, 4-5, 2-6 = 9-15 (.375)
  • Pac-12 - 2-5, 2-2, 2-5 = 6-12 (.333)

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