Saturday, December 20, 2008

And the Pac-10's annual battle against perception commences...

The Pac-10 has not had a losing bowl season since 2002. For the math deficient, that's 5-straight .500 or better postseasons.

For a league almost universally perceived as weak, that's not bad.

But it's not good enough, either.

No, for the only BCS conference to test itself in preseason games and then play a true regular season round robin (the Big East doesn't count as BCS), nothing seems to be good enough.

It's USC and the nine step-sisters.

High-octane offenses and single-gear defenses.

The domain of Washington and Washington State.

Everyone has an opinion, but as is normally the case with East Coast-based criticisms of West Coast teams, the opinions are rarely substantiated.

And they don't need to be - networks and writers know that most of the country will agree with them.

Arizona began the Pac-10's 2008 postseason tonight by soundly beating No. 17 BYU, 31-21. For any knowledgable football fan, the result was no surprise. I'm sure Vegas odds-makers, who had the 'Cats at -3, were salivating at the fact that enough fans out there thought the Cougars were the better team.

BYU got clobbered by its two strongest opponents, Utah and TCU, and were an absurdly terrible officiating call away from going into overtime against now infamously 0-12 Washington.

Arizona, on the other hand, finished 7-5 in a deeper conference after losing to the Pac-10's three top teams by 7, 10 and 2, respectively. Oh yeah, Arizona has a better quaterback and a tougher defense, too.


So it goes for the Pac-10. At worst, the league should go 4-1 in its five bowl games this year, and it has a great shot at going 5-0. There's no doubt the conference's bottom tier (UW, WSU, ASU, UCLA) was down this year, but why should that mean the Pac-10 as a whole is subpar?

You'd think 4-1 or 5-0 would be enough to raise perceptions of the league to the point where more teams would populate the 2009 preseason poll.

You'd think so. But if five-straight years haven't done the trick, maybe logic just doesn't play a leading role.

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