What’s Up With the Pac-12?

I'd read the stories. No doubt, you have, too.

The Pac-12 is down as a conference. Miserably down. Epically down.

Their football has struggled mightily, not even coming close to reaching the playoffs as of years. However, there are glimmers of hope when it comes to Pac-12 football. Oregon is recruiting extremely well under Mario Cristobal. Mike Leach is building a good foundation at Washington State. And, while Southern Cal is struggling, one has to assume that the Trojans won't settle for mediocrity and will make big moves if they don't rejoin the national elite soon, as UCLA did in hiring Chip Kelly.

However, Pac-12 hoops is hurting, as well. Check this past week's AP Top 25. Not one Pac-12 team was ranked. Not one!

UCLA? 9-6, sending Steve Alford to the curve and needing Murray Bartow to clean up quite the mess to make the NCAA tournament.

Arizona? 11-4, which isn't bad. However, they have one really solid resume win on their schedule (Iowa State). The Wildcats also went 0-2 against the state of Alabama. When it's football, that's no big deal. When it's basketball, that raises an eyebrow.

Arizona State? Huge win over Kansas followed by huge loss at home to Princeton. The Sun Devils started off hot, but have lost four out of their last seven.

USC? Andy Enfield hasn't set Los Angeles on fire, as the Trojans are 9-6, including a 35-point stomping by TCU.

What else to the latter two teams have in common? A loss to Vanderbilt, who weren't projected to be at the top of the SEC this year.

There's a slew of Power Five losses that the Pac-12 is struggling with: Missouri and Texas A&M over Oregon State. The same Auburn team that beat Arizona in Maui clobbered Washington as well. Minnesota took down those same Huskies, as well as Utah. Baylor and Iowa both took down Dana Altman's Oregon squad.

And, while mid-major upsets are prevalent in any conference, the Pac-12 has quite the large share (including a sweep of Washington State by New Mexico State). The Pac-12's non-conference record was the worst for any Power Five conference in the last two decades.

While other conferences seem to ebb and flow during the seasons, the Pac-12 seems to just be sinking ... and fast.

There's talent in the league (especially with UCLA). There's tradition and history and some true basketball schools in UCLA, Arizona, and Utah. And geography certainly isn't the issue; Gonzaga consistently continues to be a national power.

Maybe it's apathy, given the Pac-12's challenge to compete with so many pro teams in their geographical footprint. However, this is a problem they've dealt with before and overcome with ease, so you really can't say it's much of an issue.

Maybe it's the struggle of their network, which pales in revenues and ratings to the SEC and Big Ten networks, allowing more homes and specifically, more recruits, to follow teams on the East Coast rather than the West. The launch of the ACC Network later this year by ESPN certainly won't help the Pac-12 either. However, the Big 12 manages to succeed despite Texas blocking everyone else's chance to snag media dollars in that conference, so while this could be a hindrance to the league, it can't be completely the reason.

Maybe it's poor management at the top with Larry Scott, who seems to have no clue as to how to stop the bleeding and whose administration was promptly chewed up and spit out in a thorough feature done by The Oregonian. No doubt, he hasn't found a solution to alleviate the problems his conference has faced on the hardwood and the gridiron.

The Pac-12 Conference is struggling and someone, or something, has to change. Otherwise, the conference will soon become Power Five completely in name only.

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