There is a term baseball scribes use when they have to temporarily vacate their score book area for a restroom break, hot-dog reload or stake out of the general manager’s suite.
Upon return to press row, you say “catch me up.” A colleague says “F-8, BB, K” and then you’re back in the game.
Home now after a month overseas, I was worried about how much I missed in college basketball.
Then I remembered I am mostly identified with the Pac 12. Whew.
I needed more “catch-me-up” on wire taps than tap ins for a sport that picked up right where football swooned off.
This isn’t synchronized swimming–a non-revenue sport the Pac 12 would surely excel at—this is synchronized sinking.
I left a football conference coming off a 1-8 bowl season with no schools ranked in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll.
I left Arizona in crisis after the disturbing, five-alarm firing of coach Rich Rodriguez. I returned to Arizona still in crisis, only this time in basketball. I returned to a league, less than one week removed from Selection Sunday, with one school (No. 15 Arizona) ranked in Monday’s AP poll. No other Pac schools even cracked “others receiving votes.”
It’s also never good when your most talked-about player, nationally, is still Bill Walton.
The bracket experts currently have the Pac 12 with four bids but hanging on like Wile E. Coyote off the edge of a cliff.
Andy Katz, the former ESPN whiz kid now working for the NCAA’s web site, on Monday had only one Pac 12 team (Arizona) among his top 30 teams in advance of the tournament.
CBS Sports expert Jerry Palm has USC among its “last four in.” while Joe Lunardi has USC and UCLA involved in “play-in” games at Dayton.
This is a far cry from 1967, when John Wooden’s UCLA defeated Dayton to win its third of 11 national titles.
The Pac 12 is in a slump of epic proportions. It hasn’t won a football title since 2004 (USC) and a basketball crown since 1997 (Arizona).
It is only because I am old that I personally covered both of those feats. By the way, both championships were won under former commissioner Tom Hansen, sent off into retirement by the new guard as a nice man stuck in the 1980s and out-of-touch with modern financial models.
I’ll tell you what, the league got more bang-for-buck out of old Tom, who made a fraction of Larry Scott’s $4 million annual draw. And while expectations may have been lower before the league moved to San Francisco from Walnut Creek–so was the rent.
Scott was hired to reinvigorate the league and put the Pac 12 on a competitive financial level with the Big Ten and SEC.
So far, truth be told, it just hasn’t happened. The $3 billion TV deal Scott inked was impressive until those billions started looking more like yen. You could argue the Pac 12 is farther behind, competitively, than it was back in 2008. It certainly doesn’t have any “revenue” titles to show for the hard work. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.