In our offseason retrospective, we now come to the Pac-10, the lone BCS conference on the west coast. Here's how its played out over the last 5 seasons.
First off, here are the combined Pac-10 standings from 2005-2009.No real surprise at the top. Despite a down year in 2009, the Trojans are still 4 games clear of their closest competition in the last half-decade. Washington and Washington St are the only Pac-10 teams to not have a winning conference record since 2005 (both topped out at 4-5) and they are also the only 2 teams to go winless in league play in that span. Washington did it first in 2008, and their brethren from Pullman followed them up with a winless conference season in 2009. Since the Pac-10 went to a 9-game conference season in 2006, no team has gone unbeaten in the league (Southern Cal finished 8-1 in 2008 and Oregon finished 8-1 in 2009).
Now here is the standard deviation of each team's conference record (in wins). Teams are ranked from the most inconsistent to the least.Stanford has been the most inconsistent Pac-10 team over the past 5 seasons. That's no real surprise when you examine their record. In 2005, under the tutelage of Walt Harris, they finished a respectable 4-4 in the Pac-10. The very next season, they endured one of the worst conference seasons in recent memory. If not for the lamentable seasons put up by both Washington schools in 2008 and Washington St in 2009, the 1-8 Cardinal campaign 0f 2006 would stand as the worst team season of the past 5 years in the Pac-10. Of course, just 3 short seasons later, Jim Harbaugh had the Cardinal in contention for the Rose Bowl as they finished with a 6-3 conference record. Southern Cal has been the most consistent Pac-10 outfit of the past 5 years. Aside from their plunge into mediocrity in 2009, the Trojans had won 7 or 8 conference games from 2005-2008.
Now here is each team's point differential in conference play since 2005.Again, no real surprises here. The Trojans have outscored their conference opponents on average by about 16 points per game since 2005. If we just focus on their run from 2005-2008 (the Trojans were just above the break even point in 2009), that number jumps to over 19.7 points per game. Oregon is the only team besides Southern Cal to not be outscored in any one season. Washington State has been outscored by 653 points over the past 2 seasons. This means, on average, their Pac-10 opponents have beaten them by 36.3 points per game!
With this being the end of the decade, here's the tally of conference titles.We're giving Washington State credit for the 2002 crown they shared with Southern Cal because they beat the Trojans head-to-head. Similarly, for Southern Cal's other split titles (2006 and 2007), California and Arizona State do not get any credit because the Trojans owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. Somewhat ironically, the 2 schools with the worst records over the past 5 seasons (combined 19-69) won 2 conference titles in the first 3 seasons of the decade (2000 and 2002).
And finally, what was the biggest takeway from the 00 decade in the Pac-10?
I'm not going to go with the obvious and say the re-emergence of the Trojan empire. No, I'll say its the shift in power in the Pacific northwest from the Washington schools to the Oregon schools. The table below lists the combined winning percentage of the Oregon and Washington schools broken down into 5 year windows beginning in 1990.As you can see, the Oregon schools began the 1990's as pretty forgettable outfits. Oregon was an occasional bowl contender, but the Beavers from Oregon State were awful (3 straight single win seasons from 1990-1992). Meanwhile Washington was busy winning conference and national titles (1991) and the Cougars from Washington State would balance out 3 and 4 win seasons with an occasional bowl bid. As the decade wore on, Oregon continued to contend for bowl games and also won the conference in 1995. Oregon State steadily rose, adding to their win totals each season beginning in 1996 and culminating with their first bowl bid in 35 years following the 1999 season. Washington slipped in the Pac-10 pecking order, and while the Cougars went to the Rose Bowl in 1997, they did not have a winning season in the 2 seasons prior or the 3 seasons after. When the new decade dawned, Oregon and Oregon State enjoyed some of their finest seasons in school history. Washington also stayed relevant at the beginning of the decade, and Washington State enjoyed 3 consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-2003. However, in the second half of the decade, the Oregon schools continued to churn out winners, posting just a single losing season between them since 2005, while the Washington schools have not had a winning season between them since 2003! Washington appears to be back on the rise under Steve Sarkisian, but Washington State is mired in deficiency. Perhaps massive changes await in the new decade, but for now it appears the state of Oregon is king in the Pacific Northwest.