It probably didn’t come as a surprise, but it still comes as a disappointment.

The College Football Playoff committee announced its top 25 for the first time this season, and just one team from the Pac-12 — Oregon at No. 4 — was on the list.

Every other Power Five conference had at least three schools on there. The Mountain West had two. The rankings confirm what anyone paying attention has known for a while — the Pac-12 simply isn’t respected.

This isn’t prejudice. It’s post-judice. The conference’s body of work on the gridiron has failed to impress in any real capacity.

National championships? None since 2004 (USC). Runners up in the national title game? None since 2014 (Oregon). Trips to the College Football Playoff? None since 2016 (Washington). Perhaps more significantly, the Pac-12 rarely finds a way to snag any significant nonconference wins.

The biggest victory the league got out of conference this season was Oregon knocking off Ohio State in its second game of the year. Without that win, it’s likely the Pac-12 would have been shut out of the CFP top 10 maybe even top 15.


But other nonconference matchups? Washington got smoked by Michigan 31-10. UCLA, which beat a weak LSU team early on, fell to Fresno State. Utah and Arizona State both lost to BYU. Oregon State lost to Purdue. And Stanford — the one team to beat Oregon this year — fell to Kansas State by 17 points.

This isn’t anything new. Pull up the nonconference slates from 2018 and 2019 and you’ll find similar results. Same with most bowl seasons over the past few years. It’s all responsible for an image that is essentially dismissed by the CFP.

But Matt, after Oregon, the next best Pac-12 teams all have three losses on the year. How could they possibly be considered by the CFP?

Well, Mississippi State is 5-3 and it’s ranked No. 17. Wisconsin is 5-3 and it’s ranked No. 21. Other conferences in the country are granted leniency for losses. Not so much in the Pac-12.

These results are big part of the reason why former Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s contract wasn’t renewed. Scott once oversaw the most lucrative television agreement in the country, but the conference now lags behind its Power Five competitors. Money matters in college football. It breeds better facilities and other attractions that help lure in recruits.

That’s another area where the conference is lacking. According to 247Sports, only two teams (Oregon and USC) were among the top 25 recruiting classes in 2021. For the 2022 class, only Oregon and Stanford are in the top 25.


I can’t help but go back to a recent quote from former Washington and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel when observing Pac-12 football players.

“We, as a conference, have to get bigger,” Neuheisel said. “We play in this league that is small, skilled and makes all kinds of plays, but we don’t look the part physically.” 

They certainly don’t. It’s hard to know when things are going to improve for the conference. Perhaps new Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff will help right the ship. But he isn’t taking over a league that just took a recent dip. This conference — top to bottom, at least — has been struggling for more than a decade now.

Yes, there have been a few bright spots outside of football. This past NCAA men’s basketball tournament saw three Pac-12 teams reach the Elite Eight (USC, UCLA and Oregon State) — although none were given higher than a sixth seed. And UCLA is ranked second in the country in men’s hoops by The Associated Press.

On the football field, however, it continues to look grim.

Most of Seattle is rooting for Washington (4-4, 3-2 in the Pac-12) to knock off Oregon at Husky Stadium on Saturday. It would put the Huskies one win away from bowl eligibility and reignite a program that opened its season with a loss to Montana and was 2-4 at one point last month.

But Pac-12 fans are likely rooting for the Ducks, who stand as the conference’s only hope of reaching the College Football Playoff.

This was once a great football league. It’s faded heavily over the years, though. And, unfortunately, there’s no sign it is back on the rise.