Thursday, July 16, 2015

10-Year Anniversary: Dominance Points in the Big 12 and Pac-12

In this look back on the last decade, we will examine the Big 12 and the Pac-12. What do both of these leagues have in common? Despite their nomenclature, it is certainly not the number of teams, but both conferences did offer a seat at the big boy table to a former Mountain West power, TCU and Utah respectively.

The Big 12 teams are listed below by Dominance Points. The 12 teams that made up the Big 12 from its inception through the 2010 season are listed first. The two teams that were thrown life preservers and granted access (or continued access) to big time football are listed separately.
The Big 12 was the only major conference to decline in membership following realignment (that is of course discounting the Big East and WAC, which lost all their members). While it could be argued the Big 12 is a better league since realignment, there is no question the league has become more egalitarian since the divisional format was scrapped following the 2010 season. During the six season span from 2005-2010, either Oklahoma or Texas won the conference each season (if we go back to the turn of the century, either the Sooners or Longhorns won the league in nine of eleven seasons). Perhaps not surprisingly, Oklahoma and Texas rank first in Dominance Points by a significant margin. However, since 2011 a new posse of barbarians has stormed the gate. In 2011, Oklahoma State won their first conference title since 1976, Kansas State shared the 2012 championship with Oklahoma, and former whipping boy Baylor won back to back titles in 2013 and 2014 with newbie TCU grabbing a share of the latter. Speaking of TCU, how has the former mid-major fared when going toe-to-toe with the big boys on a regular basis? The Horny Toads are a middling 14-13 in Big 12 play, but are coming off an 8-1 campaign and have the Heisman frontrunner under center heading into 2015. At the bottom of the standings, Colorado technically comes in last, but they have not played a Big 12 game since November 26, 2010. Kansas is your real cellar dweller. After going 11-5 in Big 12 games during the 2007-2008 seasons, the Jayhawks have gone just 4-48 in Big 12 play over the past six seasons and are on their fifth head coach with no respite in sight.

The Pac-12 teams are listed below by Dominance Points. The 10 teams that occupied the conference when it was known as the Pac-10 are listed first. Newbies Colorado and Utah are listed separately.
I figured Oregon and Southern Cal would be engaged in a much tighter race at the top. The reason Oregon is in front by a relatively comfortable margin has everything to do with expansion. Southern Cal and Oregon both won four Pac-10/12 titles. However, Southern Cal’s all came when the league had ten members, while two of Oregon’s came in the current 12-team incarnation. That means the Ducks get four additional points because a 12-team league is ostensibly harder to win than a 10-team league. In addition, there is a bigger penalty for not winning the conference once divisional play begins. If a team finished in second place in the old Pac-10, they could accrue up to nine points. However, in divisional play, the most a team could accrue without winning the conference is six points. These small tweaks to the conference, coupled with Oregon’s fantastic play over the past six seasons ensure the Ducks are prestigiously ranked as the most dominant Pac-10/12 team of the last decade by one random blogger with no press credentials and a Geocities quality website. Stanford’s high ranking may be somewhat surprising as the Cardinal were atrocious prior to Harbaugh’s arrival. However, since 2009, they have finished no lower than second in the conference or division and have captured a pair of Pac-12 titles. This may come as a surprise to you, but Cal and Arizona State have each won a share of a Pac-10 title in the last decade. Cal shared the 2006 crown with the Trojans and Arizona State, in their first season under Dennis Erickson, shared the title with the Trojans the next season. Of the original ten teams, the duo from the Evergreen State occupy the bottom of the standings. Washington has finished in the cellar of the conference or division thrice (but none since 2008), while their Apple Cup opponents have finished in that spot six times since 2005!

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