Jul 6, 2022Liked by John Canzano

Moos makes a great point regarding USC's and UCLA's ability to compete in the Big 10.

Just ask Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Arkansas how leaving their original conferences worked out for them.

Add in the fact that UCLA has been irrelevant in the Pac 12 for 30 years, literally and other than the Pete Carroll era, USC has been perhaps the 4th best team in the Conference over the last 25 years.

I realize USC is recruiting well, but frankly they've always recruited well.

Expand full comment

A bit of an exaggeration here. 2017 USC won the Pac 12 title and the Rose bowl. Just 5 years ago hater.

Expand full comment

Not an exaggeration at all, and why the rude tone? The idea that I could conjure up the energy to "hate" USC is frankly interesting, but not true.

I just do not respect them very much as a sports program.

They are far from an elite program and have been for years.

Given their recruiting (1st or 2nd in the Conference from 2010-2018 and 5 top 5 classes in that time period), they frankly underperformed.

Oregon has won the Conference 5 times in the post-Carroll stretch, Stanford 4, UW 2 and Utah the most recent. USC has won it once. That puts USC at tied for 4th in that category.

Oregon has been to 6 BSC Bowl games in the post-Carroll stretch, not including the double dipping following the 2014 season, Stanford 5, UW 3 and USC 2.

That would suggest 4th best, wouldn't it?

As for winning percentages during that time period:

UO 75

Stanford 66

Utah 65

USC 61

UW 60

In the decade prior to Carroll, USC won 58% of their games, by the way, which was 5th best.

If you take away the Pete Carroll era, since 1990, I think USC won the Conference only 3 times. Pete Carroll was an abberration for USC, not the norm.

They have not even seriously competed for the National Championship in a decade and did not make the play-offs once

Expand full comment

You honestly don't think USC can compete with Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland, et.al.? No, because they have big stadiums? I grant you, USC has to get better but they had to anyway to win consistently in the Pac-12. I don't have to tell you it's all about the HC at any school, and they've made a significant improvement there. If what you say is true--that they always recruit well--I see them positioned better in the Big10 for potential upside.

Expand full comment

Perhaps, but it's not the Rutgers crowd I or anyone else in that Conference is worried about.

In the 10 years prior to Carroll's arrival at USC, USC had the 5th best overall record in the Conference and in the time since Carroll's departure, the 4th best, despite having the first or second best recruiting class in the conference every year from 2010 - 2018 along with 5 top 5 classes during that time period.

The reality for USC is that other than during the Pete Carroll era, they've been an above average team at best for three decades, despite the constant haul of talent.

As for Riley, he consistently had the best talent by far in the Big 12 and won, but he barely slipped by a number of teams in both 2019 and 2021, including Nebraska by 7, W. Va by 3, K State by 6 and Iowa State by a TD in 2021.

There was a perception that he had the talent but was often outcoached.

I've lived in Dallas since 1985 and there was plenty of grumbling from Oklahoma fans that he was not that good of a coach and that the quality of the program was sliding in comparison to the talent he inherited and recruited.

Riley also lost the 3 big bowl games he coached and in two he was wiped out, with Oklahoma not even looking competitive on the National stage, which did not go over that well, as you might imagine.

I'm well aware he had very very good records, but he always felt like Mark Helfrich to me before the bottom fell out in 2016.

Expand full comment
Jul 7, 2022·edited Jul 7, 2022

Good insight, and I agree that USC has for quite a long time looked like a team of only 3 star players while always having a Top10 recruiting classes - except for when Pete Carroll was there. As they say, USC is where 5 Star careers go to die.... contrast that with Utah that really is made up of only 3 star talent and crushed Oregon twice in a row last year. Great recruiting doesn't always mean great coaching, which can mean mediocre results but with outstanding talent.

I hadn't followed OU close enough to notice some of the things you pointed out and I had thought that Lincoln Riley was coming into the Pac12 with a stronger resume for winning than he apparently had there... insomuch as he had talent that should have led to more victories against the other teams with big talent. I expect USC to do better than UCLA in B1G (that's a no brainer) but I actually don't expect USC to do all that well there. They should beat the low end of the B1G but I think it will get harder for them against the middle of the pack. The 2nd from top quartile (Iowa for instance) may be a big bite for USC if the game is later in the season because Iowa is one of those big, strong teams that B1G is known for and they'll probably be in better shape for a slugfest with USC than USC will be in by that point in the year. If USC plays a team like Iowa early in the year they could probably beat them... I think. It's hard to know until you've seen USC operate there for an extended period of time. But I don't see USC challenging for the B1G conference title or appearing in the their championship game for quite a long time and not before they completely change who they are to be more like Ohio State - bigger, stronger and better coached. Truthfully my gut says USC is right in the middle of the B1G when they have to play those teams every week. Until they recruit bigger, stronger (and often slower) big guys, the other B1G teams' game plans will be "beat them up"... the Mario Cristobal game plan (which was, frankly, kind of boring to watch). But... maybe Lincoln Riley will be the answer and they'll really go in there and be a major player in that conference. We'll see when we see I guess.

Expand full comment


Riley won a lot of games and on paper looks amazing, until you start looking at the number of close games against average opponents, even where he won.

There was a real perception last year that Oklahoma was lucky it didn't lose 4 or 5 games, most against mediocre teams.

I think he is a great person but he was no Bob Stoops. He was completely outcoached in the Bowl Games that mattered and looked lost at times against a weak conference schedule.

Expand full comment

OK, fair enough--appreciate the thorough response. No doubt the jury is still out with Riley. I've followed USC for 60 years and watched many a coach fail. What I do know though is when they succeed, they succeed big--National Championship big. Riley knows this and it's why he took the job. Recruits know it, too, and it's why they sign. The Big 10 knows it, as well. We'll see how far Riley's reach is, but one thing we can both agree on: he's a vast improvement on Clay Helton! (btw, even a coach as bad as him finished #3 just 5 years ago.) Enjoyed the dialogue--CFB's the best, isn't it?

Expand full comment

Good post. I liked Helton as a person, but never understood his selection.

CFB is the best and I am looking forward to games this Fall.

Expand full comment
Jul 6, 2022Liked by John Canzano

Great content John!

Expand full comment
Jul 6, 2022Liked by John Canzano

So will our conference be PAC-ACC? Or PAC BIG? Naming it will be fun!

Expand full comment


Expand full comment
Jul 6, 2022·edited Jul 6, 2022

Why not pry Texas A&M from SEC??? Rumor has it that they were pissed to be left out of decision to include Texas and Oklahoma...

The Pac-12 should become the Pacific SouthWest conference PSC!!

Texas Tech,



Texas A&M

(MORE etc...)

Expand full comment

I don't see what the possibilities are with this "loose partnership" outside of playing a 13th game between conference champions. And if someone like Clemson wins the ACC and is in great position to get in the CFP, are they really going to want to have to go all the way out to Las Vegas to play a 9-3 Pac team and potentially ruin it? This sounds like one of those crazy ideas that someone comes up with while sitting on the pot, and it somehow gets out to the media as a plan that is legitimately being explored.

Expand full comment

None of the current scenarios on the table look stable to me. And it may be that we just need to do something (apologies to Willie Taggart - it didn't work out for him either) and then let things go through another revolution a few more years down the road. Operating in a long established conference on the other side of the country is not a natural fit for a west coast team and I don't see how any of them would be accepted as an equal to the long-standing conference members. The styles of football are much more physical in the SEC and B1G than in the Pac12 as well - I'm not sure whether fans would adapt or not. The cost for the non-revenue teams to travel has been noted as a problem... there are lots of problems. But the biggest is that there are just a lot more good football teams east of Texas than to the west. That's a big disadvantage if you're struggling to be one of the good ones - and the struggle seems to have moved from the field to the wallet now. I don't know how things will look in 20 years but I find it hard to believe that it will include west coast teams in east coast conferences. Either there will become a complete realignment away from the current conferences (NFL-like divisions) or the Pac10 will become a tier below the B1G and SEC and just accept it (maybe with some competitive teams but without the really big revenue) or we'll merge (partly or completely) with the Big12 (I don't see doing anything with the current ACC long term) which is not much different than the Pac10 scenario, financially... UNLESS, somewhere down the road you can lure Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M back from the SEC and into a western 3rd super conference that is about the same size as whatever the B1G and SEC are by then. Otherwise, I just don't see any scenarios where Oregon or any other Pac12 team (including USC and UCLA) end up as equals with the best teams in those eastern conferences. And, personally, I think I'd rather be in a lesser Pac10 than be a lesser school in a super-conference. Soon we can ask USC and UCLA fans if they are happier now that they're making far more money, but hovering in the middle of the conference most of the time (or worse, in UCLA's case, I suspect). As a fan, I'd like to win more than make more. Just my $0.02...

Expand full comment

One other thought: Fans support B1G and SEC teams better than Pac12 teams are supported by their fans. Those conferences have teams that fill 100,000 seat stadiums every week. Those are football-crazy parts of the country. If the people on the west coast don't support their teams like that, why should they expect their teams to receive the same kind of revenue as the teams with much better fan support? Some of us are football-crazy. Just not enough of us.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the great reporting here, JC. You're a calming voice in the wilderness. Regarding the 'partnership' with the ACC: seems like a house built on sand. I'd feel better with an actual contract - and can't wrap my head around waiting until 2036 - 2036! - to put something formal together.

I want to feel better about all this but it's hard, man. I'm still really chapped at the way SC and UCLA played the Pac12. Effing disloyal turncoats.

Expand full comment

Reality can be a very difficult concept to embrace…like a B rated starlet that sees herself as something that nobody else does…surrounded by those who hope to capitalize off of her, they’ve been feeding her ego for way too long…eventually they move on to more promising opportunities…Oregon is a regional program…they’ve done a great job of forcing themselves into the spotlight with quirky offenses and an endless array of uniform alternatives… it’s occasionally entertaining, but nobody outside of Eugene takes it seriously…the weak academic standing (don’t shoot the messenger here, look it up for yourself) doesn’t help…when everything is being evaluated on facts, as opposed to perception, decisions are made without any emotion…Oregon would do well to focus on an alternative that’s not out of their reach…USC and ucla are gone…and they’re not looking in the rear view mirror…

Expand full comment

That’s like saying Gonzaga has forced its way into the NCAA Tournament picture. Keep telling yourself that. Envy sucks.

Expand full comment

Nobody is envious of someone that hasn’t won anything…Gonzaga has a great basketball program… but, they don’t think they belong in the Big Ten or SEC…Oregon simply doesn’t have national value…and that’s what everyone is trying to tell you…envy is typically based in delusion…these are just the facts..

Expand full comment

Oregon is 8 & 0 in their last 8 games against Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Michigan, Michigan St, and Wisconsin. Interested in your interpretation of those facts:)

Expand full comment

Makes for a nice entry in this year’s Oregon football program…but, clearly doesn’t seem to influence those charged with underwriting a program’s value…small to mid market fan base and no historical significance to promote…if the powers to be believed that Oregon had substantial upside, they’d invest in them…they haven’t…and that tells you everything you need to know…

Expand full comment

Nah....bad take here.

Expand full comment

John after listening to an interview featuring Colin Cowherd, in which he was a guest on a USC supported show. Listened to his shows when he was here in Portland. Respectfully Colin is many things. One of which is candid. So when he speaks about the “divorce” between the two southern Cal schools and the PAC 12. He’s both informed and practical.

Oregon and Washington weren’t invited to join the move to the BIG 10. They might gain entry later, but the truth is they weren’t valued enough initially for consideration.

Brutal reality. The truth hurts.


The truth also shall set you free.

The cap on thinking and limitations has been lifted. Everything is now on the table.

As things become clearer, and the shock ebbs. It’s clear the PAC 12 conference is at a cross road. A true Come to “Jesus” moment.

As a registered associate in mental health. Funny thing happens when an organism is stressed and faced with death. It gains great focus, clarity, and takes decisive action to survive.

PAC 12 / ACC has a nice ring to it. Sounds and feels different than a week ago. The combination of east coast and west coast is intriguing. Some form of a “formal” and “enforceable” alignment benefits both conferences. At a time when being eating alive and swallowed whole is a distinct possibility. Everyone is searching for safety in numbers. Make no doubt this is a numbers game $$$.

The markets held in the ACC and the intrigue of the remaining PAC schools could create some fun combinations.

I would pay to watch. That’s the point.

Expand full comment

No one's asking if excessive travel will be prohibitive for recruiting at USC and ucla.

Expand full comment

What am I missing here? Something is not adding up. Blah blah blah....LA viewership.....blah blah blah....stands are empty too..

Total 2021-22 Pac-12 Football TV Viewers including Bowl Games













Expand full comment

This is interesting!! Where did you get these figures?

I was able to find that between Ohio State, 2 Utah games and Alamo Bowl... just over 16m viewers. Almost half coming from 4 big games. I don't know what it means, but I would be more interested in what these numbers looked like over longer stretches of times.


Bottom line is that Oregon was a valuable Commodity in the pac12, but NEEDED the pac12. Their future depends on what what happens here. And I don't think joining the Big100 is their best move.

Expand full comment


I agree joining the B1G is a bad proposition. I don't get what Fox and ESPN are using as their benchmark's. Apparently it's all based on population size near to the teams hometown, but they are severely underestimating the Ducks national and even international appeal.

A more exciting BRAND of football was developed under Mike Bellotti and it caught fire under Kelly/Helfrich. Granted other teams are doing it now, but the originator is still the reason a lot of new fans came aboard and watch college football, my wife is a perfect example of this. Now I realize Cristobal almost killed that BRAND, but I am confident in Lanning and Dillingham to understand and realize what they have and ensure it comes back.

Sure a bunch of other teams fans are going to hate on comments like this, but the fact is that numbers don't lie.

Expand full comment

There is a report out there that shows that Oregon has the 7th largest national fanbase. That backs up everything you are saying. And yes the Ducks are undervalued because they do things differently and people don't understand that.

Expand full comment

Not only do they not fully understand, but it actively foments hate from many. Change is tough on a lot of these people, or they are jealous, or they are tired of getting throttled by Oregon over the past 20+ years. Any way you shake it there seems to be a concerted effort to try to devalue Oregon relative to other schools like SC and UCLA....and apparently Rutgers, Maryland, Perdue etc. etc.

I am not buying it though. It's just more hate from ESPN and FOX and other fan bases.

Expand full comment

Dovetailing off of Moos' thinking about USC and UCLA in the B1G, the style of play there is more physical/less finesse than the Pac12 is. Cristobal was trying to take Oregon that direction - get stronger and beat up your opponent until you can run at will over them in the 2nd half. It's lower scoring, I'm-bigger & stronger-than-you football. It was boring for Oregon fans, as an aside. USC may be able to thrive in this style if it goes back to Student Body Left... football. But UCLA has never been that Big Bully kind of team. They look like basement dwellers there to me. Maybe that's satisfactory to them with a bigger payout but the B1G may not end of wanting that powder blue team over the long term. And there's no guarantee USC will be a mostly upper tier team there either. They (and B1G) seem to be putting a lot of hope in Lincoln Riley replicating Pete Carroll. Aside from Carroll, USC has a long string of mediocre seasons behind it now. And LA is not a big college football town. This seems a weird decision to me. Almost a panic decision. They must have seen financial projections for the Pac12 that were absolutely dismal and freaked out. But the Pac12 teams, by and large, have been declining. Nearly all but Oregon and Utah are less than what they used to be. So, maybe USC and UCLA just gave up hoping the conference would return to better days. I'd love to know what lead them to up and bolt someday.

Expand full comment

Great job once again ,John

Expand full comment

I' m wondering if the LA market is being overvalued by the media companies especially since I feel the interest level in college football is low. USC and UCLA Football have a history of success but have not been relevant for quite some time and attendance figures reflect that.

In speaking with Midwest fans, Existing big 10 fans may initially see USC and UCLA games as a curiosity or novelty but the long-term traditions that they have formed over the past 100 years are still very important to them and games with Nebraska for example don't mean as much anymore.

For these reasons I'm thinking the L.A. schools could end up being a drag on the Big 10 over time.

It's also natural to look at the deal through the lens of what we see today but things can change. College football conferences and programs that were dominant can decline and vice-versa. Who has the most NCAA football championships? Yale has 18. Minnesota was king in the 1930s and 1940's has 6 for example.

I'm happy to hear that the remaining pack 12 members seem to be committed to the conference and to one another so it's simply up to each program to be the best they can be and maybe one of them with the right coach and the right players can catch lightning in a bottle And improve the perception of the conference.

Expand full comment

Yeah, Oregon and Washington were so 'loyal' to the Pac-12 that they immediately applied for Big10 membership as soon as the LA schools left. Funny how loyalty is a relative thing?

Expand full comment

Oregon and UDub are gone if the Big-10 door opens a crack.

Expand full comment

I hope not... B1G is a northeast (quadrant) conference. I don't see Oregon or Washington (nor USC nor UCLA for that matter) fitting in there or being considered equal members of their conference. Not to mention that the style of football they traditionally play there is designed to grind down the opponent. I don't know how well any modern day Pac12 team will do going through an entire season of that. I think you'd be obligated to change to the traditional B1G style of football and recruit to build that kind of team in the future (which probably means more recruiting of the Midwest and Southeast where the big boys are more plentiful). Not that that's bad but it just isn't traditional Pac12 style football.

Expand full comment

Mostly a panic reaction I think, though, as opposed to some pre-existing disloyalty toward the conference as the two Southern California schools appear to have had.

Expand full comment

...and Cal was national champion or had a share of the NC for three consecutive seasons, 1920 - 1922. (Stanford was NC in 1926.) Of course, this was back toward the Yale/Harvard college football era... not modern day CFB.

Expand full comment

Why not grab SDSU and UNLV?

Expand full comment

Because they bring very little value to the table. They are not even draws in their own markets, let alone move the needle for the benefit of a larger conference. It is the same reason they've been left out of every expansion conversation.

Expand full comment

What they bring is the SoCal tv market you just lost . The Vegas tv market where sports are exploding. It pretty much covers the last relevant West Coast teams so you have a monopoly besides the LA schools. And if you’re doing a merger with the ACC. fans from the ACC will travel to Vegas for road games they’ll travel to San Diego for road games those are exciting spots to go to for fans just like Miami would be a fun road trip for a pack 10 fan. Those two schools are also kinda close to la as far as schools go

Expand full comment

I'm sorry but that doesn't hold up. If what you are saying was true, about them having high TV market value, then those teams would already have been scooped up by a bigger conference.

Nobody is watching SDSU or UNLV. Market value isn't just location, it's eyeballs on screens.

Expand full comment
Jul 6, 2022·edited Jul 6, 2022

If you have to expand, SDSU seems like a no-brainer due to the reasons you mentioned and (perhaps equally important) the recruiting footprint of southern California. Assuming they feel the need to grab a 12th, UNLV seems like the next option (IMHO) assuming you can't pluck anyone from the Big 12.

I'm not sure the Pac-10 would expand though. A merger/firm partnership or basically a full disintegration seems more likely than a new Pac-12 to me.

Expand full comment

This ACC deal smacks of desperation and feels like it would be held together by duct tape and baling wire. Unfortunately the BIG12 may be the best OR and WA path.

Expand full comment