There has been a lot of talk about the Trojans not longer being in contention for a national title and Barkley no longer being considered for the Heisman. And there's been plenty of rebuttals that this is all premature. Both arguments got me to thinking: how do you measure a successful season? Surely it can't be "national title or bust." That makes 1976 a "bust," along with 1979, 1984, and 2002.
So I've created my own personal hierarchy of what I want in a season.
Obviously, some of these overlap; for example, we can win the Rose Bowl without beating either UCLA or Notre Dame (1995) or beat both rivals but not even go to the Rose Bowl (2009).
For me, the main metric has been the Rose Bowl. If you win all your conference games, you go. That can be controlled. The BCS is up to voters who don't watch all the games, coaches who don't watch any of the games, and computers controlled by the Cylon overlords orbiting Caprica. You can't really be screwed out of the Rose Bowl, but you can sure be screwed out of the national championship game. Just ask USC in 2003, or Auburn in 2004, or USC, Texas, and Utah in 2008. The playoff won't solve that.
So, here's my chart. How does it stack up with yours? (Best result is on top)
1. BCS championship and Heisman trophy
2. BCS championship
3. AP or other non-BCS championship
4. Rose Bowl win (yes, I'd rather win the Rose Bowl than go to the national title game and lose)
5. BCS bowl win
6. BCS Championship Game loss
7. Rose Bowl loss
8. Pac-12 championship win
9. Heisman trophy
10. Major bowl win
11. BCS bowl loss
12. Major bowl loss
13. Division championship but Pac-12 championship game loss
14. Minor bowl win
15. Minor bowl loss
16. Beat UCLA and Notre Dame
17. Beat UCLA
18. Beat Notre Dame
19. Beat Oregon (a better team than UCLA and ND? Maybe, but I care about the arch-rivals more than the Ducks)
20. Winning record
Division championship is tough for me: Is it better to go to the conference championship game and lose, or to be 2nd in the division and finish on, say, a three-game winning streak? It's hard to tell how a team might move up or down in bowl selection after just one season of the Pac-12.
So, that's what I'm looking for in a season. How about you?