Sport Why the Pac-12 is probably in better shape than you think

02:10  17 may  2018
02:10  17 may  2018 Source:   sbnation.com

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The Pac - 12 doesn’t make as much money as the Big Ten or SEC. It probably never will again. Lakers’ Luol Deng buyout is even more brilliant than you think The Lakers have their stuff together. Why did the Bills pick Nathan Peterman as starting quarterback over Josh Allen?

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  Why the Pac-12 is probably in better shape than you think © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A conference’s fortunes can change quickly.

OK, the Pac-12 has had a really bad year.

Things have been bad since the first college football game of the 2017 season, which Oregon State lost at Colorado State. Here’s the whole timeline, but some highlights: The Pac-12 went 1-8 in bowl games, the only win coming over West Virginia’s backup quarterback. That’s the worst bowl mark by a conference ever. The league had two men’s basketball teams fire coaches after the federal government charged them with multiple felonies. It had zero men’s teams make the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament. Crying Jordans were involved. You get the idea.

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The Pac-12’s struggles have led some gloom and doom over the future.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd sums up a lot of these fears:

Of course, the Pac-12 spun [a] $509 million payout as the largest in its history. And while that’s true, it’s not how Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson saw it.

”The gap between us and the other [leagues] continues to grow,” he said. “We’ll be competitively disadvantaged even moreso. … That’s real money in terms of being able to compete, support facilities, support coaches and support programs.”

The sky is not falling out West but cracks are beginning to appear in a once-solid foundation. First, there are those vocal critics. [Cal chancellor Carol] Christ, Anderson and new Washington State president Kirk Schulz have weighed in.

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”This is a concern of the Pac-12 presidents, and I can tell you it’s a large discussion point with meetings with the commissioner at every single meeting,” Schulz said. “… The Pac-12 schools have got to be competitive with the ACC, the SEC and the Big Ten and Big 12, and we’re falling behind.”

But so many of the Pac-12’s problems are cyclical. They should get better.

In 2015, Sports Illustratedcredibly wondered if the Pac-12 was the best conference in college football. That wasn’t a totally wild argument after the 2014 season. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman and led Oregon to the national title game in the first Playoff ever. The league won six bowl games and had a bunch of experienced coaches and QBs heading into 2015. Everything looked fine in football. The league was even doing OK in basketball, where Arizona made the 2015 Elite Eight and Utah and UCLA made the Sweet 16.

Then some coaches and players didn’t work out, and the narrative shifted, especially in football. The Big Ten was a glorified high school debating society and Ohio State, but then suddenly, the league made a bunch of creative hires, and now it has five teams in most preseason top 15s. The most interesting thing about the ACC Coastal used to be the possibility that every team could finish 6-6. Now, thanks to a run of great coaching hires (Mark Richt at Miami, Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech, maybe even Pat Narduzzi at Pitt), it’s one of deepest divisions in the country. These things can change quickly.

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Some of these post-mortem conclusions are based on polling and focus groups conducted by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA; others are Obama-Trump voters were more likely to think more Democrats look out for the wealthy than look out for poor people. It’s probably that mixture.

Share Here's a wild idea: what if USC left the Pac - 12 ? Let's think through this. Making mil less than Rutgers, horrible schedules and refs = why do you need the # Pac 12 ? Should USC try to leave the Pac - 12 now? Probably not.

The Pac-12’s basketball problems could also get solved in not much time. Sure, the league didn’t have a team get past the round of 64 of the tournament last season, and sure, Arizona and USC remain embroiled in an FBI scandal. But there are five Pac-12 schools in the early top 20 of 2019’s recruiting class rankings. There were four last season, with a fifth, Arizona, just outside at 21. The quality of play could be a lot better soon.

The Pac-12 doesn’t make as much money as the Big Ten or SEC. It probably never will again. But collectively, it isn’t poor.

It doesn’t pay out as much to its schools as those leagues. The Pac-12 Network isn’t close to the SEC Network or Big Ten Network as a product or revenue-generator. It probably never will be.

Arizona still had enough money go out and get Kevin Sumlin. UCLA still had enough to get Chip Kelly. And while the conference has some new or unproven new faces, this league still has coaches like David Shaw, Chris Petersen, Mike Leach and Kyle Whittingham.

If Stanford or USC or Washington suddenly needs a new coach, they’re going to have enough money to get a credible candidate. And judging from the kinds of hires that that lower-run teams in other conferences make, it’s not like Oregon State or Cal is going to pull in a huge-name hire even in a world where Pac-12 TV money quadruples.

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If one or two of these can play well and another is competent, the passing game will probably be fine. And a hell of a schedule. Spurrier's team in better shape than you think ? Why Kelvin Benjamin trashed Cam Newton There’s more to this than Newton supposedly being inaccurate.

Odds are high that the Pac - 12 champion will suffer at least one loss, more than likely two. The larger meaning would come with a Huskies victory. "It's never easy," Petersen remarked as he walked off the field, probably already thinking about Stanford.

The Pac-12 has some structural disadvantages. A lot of its games happen after AP Poll voters have gone to bed. Its teams don’t have much fan support as programs in the South or Midwest do. They have a few conference-mates with budget problems and small fanbases.

But all of that has been true since the days of the old Pacific Coast Conference, when USC and Washington complained about Idaho and Montana. It’s been true since forever. And that hasn’t stopped the league from fielding championship quality programs.

It’s clear the Pac-12 has made some poor administrative decisions, from scheduling to spending to exposure. But it can still thrive.

If USC, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA all improve a little in football, or if the league gets some better postseason bounces in hoops nobody is going to care about Cal’s balance sheet or who has the fanciest TV contract. We’ll have all moved on to yelling about the meltdown of some other conference by then.

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