It isn’t a secret that the Pac-12 has fallen on difficult times the last few years. Stanford and USC have been in a slump, Utah hasn’t been able to break through and the rest is just a mess of .500.
Despite Larry Scott’s best efforts, the Pac-12 isn’t dead. Conferences go through peaks and valleys so it isn’t the end of the world that they have fallen on hard times. But if you are not growing, you’re dying. The Pac-12 Network has been nothing short of a disaster, a few notable coaching hires have flopped and the conference is fighting their way out of the bottom of P5 conferences. Thankfully, two teams can return the conference to relevance.
The Washington Huskies
Chris Petersen is one of the best coaches in the country, no question about it. In his 13 years as a head coach, Petersen has won 10+ games 10 times. He is also the only coach in the Pac-12 with playoff experience to add to his already impressive career. Once again the Huskies are primed for a big season and the country is well aware as they rank top 15 in almost every poll. The Jake Browning era is over and Jacob Eason is here to show why he was such a high rated recruit. Washington can be a real threat and look to attain their fourth 10+ win season in as many years. They also shouldn’t have to do it alone.
The Oregon Ducks
While the Huskies have been a steady, talented team since 2014, Oregon has been a roller coaster. Three coaches over that same time period and a floor of 4-8. While they have generally been solid since Chip Kelly left, 2019 is shaping up to be the return to the big stage.
Justin Herbert is one of the best in the country and will likely be going early in the NFL Draft. A top flight QB goes a long way in college football and could be enough to carry a team. Cam Newton is a great example of a superstar on a talented by not overly impressive roster and winning a championship. I’m not saying that Herbert is Newton, simply that he is a great talent that can hide his teams shortcomings and build off a 9-4 season from 2018.
For Oregon, it is a bit of a tougher road. Washington’s toughest out of conference game is BYU while Oregon opens up the year against Auburn. Oregon also goes
- @ Stanford
- @ Washington
- @ USC
Washington has a far easier schedule and faces most of their toughest games at home. Washington has one of the best home environments that flies under the radar. A favorable schedule, strong roster and a top tier coach typically leads to season long success.
Saving the Conference
All of this is to say that it comes down to these two. Maybe USC can make a push but there is still plenty to question under Clay Helton. The Pac-12 is considering moving games to 9 A.M. and just want a bigger piece of the action. Being on the West Coast already puts their backs against the wall. That can all be fixed with a playoff appearance.
The SEC and the ACC are virtually a lock with Alabama and Clemson. The Big 12 and the Big Ten have a few contenders and Notre Dame falls into the mix. Washington has the coach and the schedule, Oregon has the QB and have been trending in the right direction. Larry Scott may want to run the conference into the ground but the fans don’t want to keep seeing a once iconic conference flounder. A playoff spot is an instant climb to relevancy and respect. It is up to the Pacific Northwest to bring the conference back or it is another year of slipping farther away from the spotlight.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.