Pac-10 might be better served by not filling its bowl slots

Somewhere in the halls of the Pac-10 offices, someone is

considering making a call to USC athletic director Pat Haden.

“You feel like playing in a bowl game this


The Trojans are back in the Associated Press poll, coming off an

impressive upset at reeling but ranked Arizona, and have a schedule

that sets up for a five-game winning streak by year’s end.

That would put coach Lane Kiffin’s team at 10-3 and third in

the conference, not bad considering everything that’s

happened since taking the job in January.

But there will be no postseason play for USC. And for the

Pac-10, with a series of quirks and bad breaks, that could leave

the conference with just three bowl-eligible teams and filling just

one of its five non-BCS bowl slots.

Here’s the scenario: Oregon plays Boise State or TCU in

the BCS title game, allowing the Rose to bypass a non-automatic

qualifier and maintain Pac-10/Big Ten tradition by selecting

Stanford. Arizona ends up in the Alamo and the rest of the

conference cannibalizes itself.

It’s actually not that far fetched and certainly seems

more likely than the muddled middle clearing.

Oregon State needs two wins against the top three teams in the

Pac-10 – home games against USC and Oregon sandwiched around

a trip to Stanford – after losing to UCLA at the buzzer, then

getting walloped by Washington State, the Cougs’ first Pac-10

triumph since the 2008 Apple Cup.

Cal sits at 5-5. The Golden Bears’ finale is against

Washington, which must win out, starting Thursday night against

UCLA. The Bruins need two more victories, as does Arizona State

along with a waiver to count both of its wins against FCS

opponents. Those two play on November 26.

Basically, unless the Ducks, Cardinal and Trojans slip up,

there’s going to be a whole bunch of teams that don’t

hit the six win threshold.

Call me crazy, but that’s just fine if Oregon and Stanford

get the big BCS stage, not to mention the big paycheck that goes

with it.

The Pac-10 is killed by its bowl predicament. It has just one

prominent January bowl game and no, moving the Kraft Fight Hunger

Bowl to the ninth does not count. It has no games against the SEC,

but three against the ACC, WAC and Mountain West. It has a

reputation for traveling poorly, which cost it the Cotton Bowl in

the 1990’s and keeps it from getting into a Florida-based


So why not just cut the deadweight? Besides, getting the

four-letter promotional machine to talk about Chip Kelly and

LaMichael James and Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck for a month would

do far more than running that glossy Pac-10 ad during the Sun


Getting Oregon and Stanford regarded on the same level that USC

held during the Pete Carroll-era is the single-most important thing

commissioner Larry Scott can do for the prestige and television

contracts of the conference.

Do I need to list the big-stage failures by the Pac-10 in recent

years? The really brief refresher course begins with Texas Tech in

the Holiday Bowl and ends with Ohio State in the Rose.

The high-flying Ducks have flash and style in droves thanks to

backing from Phil Knight of Nike. The Cardinal is the epitome of

physical football, even as it features the best quarterback in the


Seeing those two, who may be the two best teams in college

football, raising the crystal ball or pummeling the Big Ten

champion on New Year’s Day is the only way the Pac-10 will

ever get the respect it should get.

Doing so with USC not on the sidelines would even better.

It would certainly do more than a bunch of 6-6 or 7-5 teams

beating other 6-6 or 7-5 teams.



width="432" />