Pac-12? CFB Title? Whatever
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When Commissioner Larry Scott jumped from running women's tennis and woke up the Pac-12, he turned the conference into arguably college football's driving force.
It is the richest league at the academic level. Even without DirecTV, its media machine virtually prints money. It outglizes the NFL to the point that Los Angeles is fine with USC and UCLA only.
And it is the conference that ignited the realignment trend to the point of not only altering the game's landscape but setting the stage for next week, when the so-called Power Five will set themselves apart from the great unwashed of Division I.
Scott's makeover has been a smashing success in all aspects, save one. There have been no national titles in football during his reign.
And in what's probably the most irreverent conference in the country, most of its fandom doesn't give a damn.
Perhaps it's because the more enterprising of them are busy making prank calls when, say, the UCLA campus is flooded.
Or when, during halftime of the Jim Plunkett-Randy Vataha Rose Bowl in 1971, the anarchic Stanford band formed a light bulb in its Tribute to Women theme. It seems everyone but NBC network producers noted the insinuation of the band's red blazers as they belted out the Box Tops' Sweet Cream Ladies.
College football may be a movin'-n-shakin' dosh dynamo on the Left Coast, but it's not a religion.
Yes, there are pockets of national aspirations. Oregon's Ducks, fueled by the bucks-ola of Nike poobah Phil Knight, still seem to be trying to force their way into the NFL but would settle for a CFB trophy. USC used to take those titles for granted back in the day and now -- sanction-free -- seems to have found a new appreciation for them.
By and large, though, Pac-12 fans are more oriented toward their traditional match-ups and the odd out-of-conference A-list game. The conference championship concept has yet to take hold; maybe a shift to Las Vegas would enhance it. Rose Bowl appearances remain the ultimate goal. And the nine-game league schedule is recognized as a truer test of valiance, but one that will rarely yield undefeated seasons. It's a realization that creates distrust and even contempt for poll voters and qualification panels.
It'll probably take another generation for the idea of a national title to become more credible. An eight-team playoff would probably hasten that timeline. Until then, fans of the Conference of Champions -- earned, not voted -- are simply happy their teams are awash with cash and they have continuous media access to them.
And they're totally fine with their perspective on what actually constitutes a champion.