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PAC-12 IS NATIONíS MOST PERPLEXING CONFERENCE
January 7, 2012

SCS.comWhen Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and the Lopez twins roamed the Pac-10 Conference in the middle of this decade, the league was often considered a West Coast gem. With late-night tips and a lack of ESPN coverage, the Pac-10 had to rely on its star power to generate interest.

As those players flooded the NBA Draft, though, the conference was left in rebuilding mode. For the past three years, it has slid toward the bottom of the RPI rankings for BCS-conferences. Even with the addition of Utah and Colorado this season, the new Pac-12 is as embarrassing as ever.

The Buffaloes currently sit in first place with a 2-0 league record, but Tad Boyleís team hardly has the resume for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth right now. California, considered a league favorite just a few weeks ago, just lost at Oregon State. UCLA has collapsed this seasonóbut it just knocked off Arizona in a much-needed victory. And even Utah beat Washington State after losing to CSU Fullerton, Fresno State and Weber State by a combined 90 points earlier in the year.

So whatís going to happen in this crazy conference? And why has the Pac-12 slipped so far?

Those are difficult questions to answer. On one hand, this wild, up-for-grabs scenario could make for terrific competition this winter, and the Pac-12 Tournament will be as desperate as ever. But itís also a little sad to see how poorly the league has performed. Right now, it sits below the Mountain West, Atlantic Ten and Missouri Valley conferences in terms of RPI. Those are all solid leagues, but thereís no reason for the Pac-12 to lag behind like this.

Yes, the conference has seen a lot of defections to the NBA over the years, but the lack of coaching success is more concerning. Thatís an overlooked factor in the Pac-12ís collapse. Consider for a moment a few of the leagueís successful coaches earlier in the decade. Trent Johnson (Stanford) and Tony Bennett (Washington State) both left for new jobs, and they left winning programs for Johnny Dawkins and Ken Bone. But Dawkins could not recover from the loss of the Lopez twins (among others), and Bone was never able to win with star Klay Thompson. Tim Floyd also lost his job at USC after the O.J. Mayo scandal, and that program has never recovered. Ben Howlandís program has slipped at UCLA, Craig Robinson hasnít fully rebuilt Oregon State and Ernie Kent got fired at Oregon. Itís almost as if everything went wrong for every team in the Pac-12óall at one time.

And thatís where we sit right now. Once again, the Pac-12 is the nationís weakest BCS conference. Colorado is in first place and not a single team is ranked. Tell you what, though. It may be pathetic, but it makes for great drama.

U.S.A.
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