“What’s that you say?
‘Jackie Robinson, Johnny Wooden and McKay have gone away’?
Hey, hey, hey!”
It’s Poor Puddles calling to report animal abuse. Our fine-feathered friend has been whipped, spurred and ridden so hard by Trojans, Cougars, Huskies, Sun Devils, Beavers, Wildcats, Utes, Bears (both Golden and Bruin), and even two-ton Ralphie, that he is starting to bleed Cardinal red.
Oregon is the only Pac-12 revenue-sport program that has consistently shown up in recent seasons. Dana Altman’s Ducks have advanced to the Sweet 16 in three of the last four seasons. Coach Altman has proven to be one of CBB’s top roster jugglers and is poised to continue that run in 2019.
Meanwhile, supposed powerhouse Arizona has made headlines for an FBI investigation, the subsequent testimony at trial and the over/under on when its head coach will be fired. Where have you gone, Lute Olsen?
The Pac-12 went 4-3 in the 2018/19 Tournament, including ASU’s play-in win. Does Pac-12 Commissioner “Livin’ Large“ Larry Scott deem this an adequate showing? Somewhere beneath the fairway, John Wooden is doing back flips. And what of UCLA’s recent pursuit of Kentucky head coach John Calipari? In their attempt to lure the king of the one-and-dones from blue grass to left coast, the Bruins brought new meaning to the words “grovel” and “dysfunctional.” Of course, Coach Cal laughed all the way to a bigger bank, as Bruins AD Dan Gurrero eventually landed his fourth-most favored fish from the CBB coaching pond.
Last season, USC, the Pac-12’s football bell cow, went 5-7, with a loss to Chipper’s 3-9 Bruins, and the LA schools were shut out of the bowl season. That’s a disgrace to surfers up and down the West coast. Hats off to Mario Cristobal, but something’s wrong when Oregon out-recruits the Trojans in LA.
Yes, ‘SC played in a couple BCS title games (over a decade ago). But its 2005 Orange Bowl beat-down of the Sooners was vacated by the NCAA after Reggie “Bush League“ Bush‘s receipt of side-schwag like, oh, a house and a car. Yes, under Clay “Gomer“ Helton the Trojans conquered Penn State in a scintillating Rose Bowl game. But this was only because stud QB Sam Darnold fell into Gomer’s lap … “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”
And Helton somehow didn’t see Darnold’s potential until after a Nick Saban butt-whoopin’ the third game of the season. Anyone care to wager that 2019 will not be Gomer’s swan song? Oh, and speaking of Swanny, his performance to date as the Trojans AD has been every bit as successful as his stint as a game show host, his appearance in The Waterboy, and his aborted gubernatorial run in the Keystone State.
But at least the admissions situation in South Central is all good, right?
And how about the situation up at the 415, at the shiny pinnacle of the Pac-12 heap and proud perch of $4.7M Livin’ Large Larry? Triple L and his bosses recently turned down ESPN’s offer for Pac-12 media rights — a deal that would have run through 2030 at a minimum. Had they accepted the offer, the Pac-12 Network would be up and running on DirecTV. Instead, Livin’ Large and his merry band stuck fastidiously to their belief that some moneyed moron will cough up $750M for a 10 percent share of the conference’s media rights. The situation would be laughable but for its absurdity.
The Pac-12 honchos want you to believe that hiring a chichi PR firm will elevate the fortunes of the Pac-12 conference … Sorry, but nowhere on earth can one make chicken salad out of this chicken “you kn0w what.”
And how about our brethren up north and their most excellent of football coaches, Chris Petersen? Petersen has mushed his Huskies to a CFP semi-final loss versus Alabama, an opening loss in 2018 versus 7-5 Auburn, a bowl game beat-down at the hands of Penn State and a three-quarter no-show against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. UW did sweep Rutgers, so they got that goin’ for them, which is nice.
Outside of Puddles, the Pac-12 needs to step up its game, both in recruiting and on the field/court. If it doesn’t, the financial gap between the Pac-12 and the other Power 5 conferences will continue to widen, increasing a competitive disadvantage for all Pac-12 teams.
Will the conference make a representative showing against Auburn, BYU, Cincinnati, Fresno State, Mississippi, Notre Dame and Oklahoma in 2019? From top to bottom, Pac-12 football is superior to the ACC. But another out-of-conference face-plant will keep the Pac-12 locked in the CFB basement. Will the conference get on the right side of bowl wins-loss records? Will the Run For The Roses finish with a Pac-12 team lifting the Rose Bowl Trophy? Will more than three conference teams qualify for, and actually do something in, next season’s NCAA Basketball Tournament?
Or will Livin’ Large Larry stay perched atop his heap of gold watching the Pac-12 mascots spur and whip a hobbled Puddles toward a Group of 6 sunset?
Georgetown, Texas Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
Jon Joseph grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but has been blessed to have lived long enough in the west to have exorcised all east coast bias. He played football in college and has passionately followed the game for seven decades. A retired corporate attorney Jon has lectured across the country and published numerous articles on banking and gaming law. Now resident in central Oregon Jon follows college football across the nation with a focus on the Conference of Champions and the Ducks.
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