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The Pac 10 Continues to Take it on the Chin

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Well you knew it was coming. With the Pac 10's dismal performance (read Cal) against the SEC this weekend there has been plenty of talk about weak the Pac 10 is. From SI.Com's Stewart Mandel's CFB Mailbag.

Are you finally willing to admit the Pac-10 is "soft"? The Vols are not one of the juggernauts this year in the SEC and they still handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against Cal. USC recruits well and has a great team, but its conference is pathetic. The Trojans would lose more games if they were in the SEC and had to play Auburn, LSU, Florida, etc., all in the same year. Deal with it, Mandel, it's the truth.
-- Scott, Dallas

You know, there was a deluge of anti-Pac-10 comments on my blog right after the Cal-Tennessee game, and at first I was baffled as to where all the resentment was coming from. It's not like anyone's shoving the Pac-10 down other people's throats. If anything, the league is practically invisible outside the West Coast. But then I started noticing that much like Scott's e-mail, many of the comments made reference to USC, even though the Trojans had absolutely nothing to do with Cal losing to Tennessee, and that's when I realized: It's not backlash against the Pac-10, it's backlash (and, let's face it, envy) over USC's recent success. Apparently, fans of the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12, etc., believe the Trojans have an easier path to the national title game because of their supposedly "soft" conference.

When I was at the swamp for the Tenn.-UF game last year I heard a lot this talk about the Pac 10 being soft and that SC had an easier road to travel to the BCS Title game. Just yesterday I was talking with a surgeon who went to Tennessee and he said the EXACT SAME THING! Of course I said the exact same thing that Mandel said, SC still has to beat teams from other conferences in order to be the crowned the champion.


It was a disappointing loss, but we appreciate the effort.
Photo Courtesy of the Daily Trojan

As Mandel goes on to state:

Since 2002, coach Pete Carroll's team is 8-2 against the other BCS conferences (12-2 if you include Notre Dame), including wins over ACC champion Virginia Tech (2004), Big Ten champions Iowa ('02) and Michigan ('03), Big 12 champion Oklahoma ('04) and four wins over Auburn and Arkansas -- from the same SEC the Trojans would supposedly struggle in -- by a combined score of 167-48.

While our Pac 10 brethren had a difficult time with the SEC this past weekend, SC has consistently played them tough. Would it make me feel better if the rest of the Pac 10 consistently won like USC has been doing of late? Yes, but it will take some time. Some teams in the Pac 10 still need to get credit for scheduling tough OOC games. Win or lose the effort is there and their attempts should be heralded with praise instead of skepticism when they lose.