Another college football bowl season comes to an end for the Pac-12 Conference and this time it’s the worst ever for a Power 5 conference. The conference finished 1-8 after the Washington loss to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night. This is something that the Pac-12 would love to forget about as soon as possible.
However, this record is something that fans of the conference won’t forget about anytime soon.
Being at the Fiesta Bowl I talked with other conference writers and fans about the struggles of the Pac-12 during bowl season. The answers I got were always preceded with a big sigh.
Words like embarrassment, horrid, disastrous, overrated, and disgusting were all words that mentioned. There were others, but this is a family article. Let’s just say golf course type of language was used to describe the Pac-12.
The bowl season for the Pac-12 had all sorts of promise. Nine out of the 12 teams made a bowl game, so the potential to come out looking great was there.
So much for that thought.
Right now, the Pac-12 should be very thankful for the Utah Utes. The Utes were the only team to come up with a victory. Utah defeated West Virginia 30-14 in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The previous mark by held by a Power 5 Conference was the Big Ten in 2008 when the conference went 1-6. Iowa was the only team in the Big Ten that year to pull out a win. Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all went down to defeat.
For the Pac-12, they had Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, and Washington State all lose.
Now, some of the games were close, but didn’t go the way all Pac-12 fans wanted. Stanford should have won their game, Washington ran out of time, and Arizona lost by three. Everybody else didn’t show up to compete.
The Sun Devils, Washington State, USC, UCLA, Oregon were all punched in the mouth early and often in their games. The extent to which these teams were bullied around the field by bigger, stronger teams was so clear. It drove home the point to me that the Pac-12 is a finesse conference.
I am a Pac-12 writer, fan, and an alumni of a Pac-12 school. I make no bones about wanting the Pac-12 to achieve as much success as possible. However, this past bowl season gives me some pause.
With Washington States 25 point loss to Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl being the biggest defeat, the Pac-12 was outscored by a combined 87 points in all their bowl games. It just makes you shake your head.
The Pac-12 is a conference full of teams that like to play fast and quick. Zone read option type of schemes and teams that like to wear the other teams out because of pace of play. Stanford is the only team that likes to line up and smack the other team in the mouth like an SEC or Big Ten team.
When the Pac-12 goes up against the other conferences like the Big Ten or SEC it’s been tough to watch. The quick Pac-12 teams have been harnessed and controlled by teams like Alabama or Ohio State. Heck, Oregon was bullied around the football field by Boise State. I saw that debacle in person.
The Pac-12 isn’t tough. We don’t smack around teams, we don’t bully teams around. The Pac-12 tries to run away and hide from teams. I get it. You can’t control what you can’t catch.
I don’t see this changing any time soon in the conference. It’s not our identity, but maybe the identity of our beloved conference needs a bit of a makeover.
“Sometimes you just have one of those years.” Chris Petersen said in reference to the Pac-12’s struggles this year in bowl games.
The makeover would need a change in philosophy by the coaching staffs in the Pac-12. I don’t see Rich Rodriguez, Chip Kelly, or Mike Leach changing their coaching styles.
The Pac-12 is a free wheeling football conference, but being embarrassed in the bowl games like this is an embarrassment.