Monday, April 19, 2010

Pac-10 Recap: 2005-2009

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.


Anonymous said...

Your conference title count is incorrect. In the last decade, Oregon has 3 titles, and Oregon State has 1. In the 2000 season Oregon, Washington and Oregon State all tied for the conference lead at 7-1. In addition, there was no head-to-head tiebreaker as they were all 1-1 versus each other. There was only one Rose Bowl berth, which went to Washington based on its high BCS ranking, but the conference title was equally shared among the three. There was also no technical tie in 2008, as USC won outright. Between 2001 and 2009 Oregon didn't finish in any technical ties for first. The correct total then, accounting for head-to-head tiebreakers, is

Oregon 3
Oregon State 1
Washington 1
Washington State 1

matt said...

That adds up to 12 championships. To me, in 10 seasons it is impossible to have 12 champions. On the whole, these conference championship tallies are all my opinions, so I awarded the 2000 title to Washington based on their Rose Bowl bid (Oregon State was an at-large BCS selection).

You are right though about Oregon in 2008. They finished one game behind the Trojans. I misread my listing of the standings.

Anonymous said...

Not giving Oregon credit for the 2000 shared title is like not giving them credit for 2001 because they didn't go to the Rose Bowl either.

matt said...

The Rose Bowl was the championship game that year (01). Oregon received the conference's automatic BCS bowl bid.

Unknown said...

Also, the vacated 2005 games for USC should mean that Oregon was the legal champion. So that brings the total to USC 5 and Oregon 4.

If you remove Dennis Dixon's injury, that gives they 2007 title to Oregon as well. So what we really had was:

Oregon 5
Oregon State 1
Cal 1
Arizona State 1
Washington State 1
Washington 1

Also, when you back out USC illegal wins and you account for the QB-less 2007 Oregon team after Dixon tore his ACL, Oregon is way ahead in the win column. It looks to me like this was Oregon's decade in the Pac-10.