Okay, I’ll be honest. Before you keep reading, you should know something: I did not watch the Stanford vs Oregon State game. I had better things to do. If you were a college kid, would you rather stay in for a football game between two bad teams or party? You’d choose the latter just as I did, so I’m going to take this time to write about being a successful football program.
Did you know the PAC-12 has the most quarterbacks represented in the NFL?
I’ll break them down by tier.
1st tier: Andrew Luck (yes, I still include him), Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff (don’t scoff at me for including him, he made a Super Bowl.)
2nd tier: Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Marcus Mariota
3rd tier: Gardner Minshew, Luke Falk, Matt Barkley, Brett Hundley, Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan
The PAC-12 has been loaded with quarterback talent yet hasn’t sniffed a CFP national championship. And don’t tell me Oregon came close because they never stood a chance against Ohio State’s third-string quarterback. What’s the issue for the PAC-12? It’s the lack of legendary coaches.
USC, led by Pete Carroll, was the last team to win a national championship. That was 15 years ago. When Stanford and Oregon were at the forefront of college football, they were led by Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly. David Shaw continued the success of Harbaugh while Kelly’s heir, Mark Helfrich, did not last long.
The teams that dominate today’s college football scene are, well, two teams: Alabama and Clemson. They are led by Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, whose resumes speak for themselves. Both teams pay a heavy price for their coaches who make a combined $167 million. Other consistent playoff teams have some pretty coaches, too. Oklahoma has Lincoln Riley, a quarterback guru and a constant fixture in the NFL rumor mill. Georgia is led by Kirby Smart, a disciple of Saban. Notre Dame has Brian Kelly, who Stanford fans should know all about. And lastly, Ohio State had Urban Meyer, who is currently a coaching free agent...
Notice a trend? Teams who win have great coaches, and they pay big bucks for it. It’s the cost of winning. It’s the cost of getting recruits. When Alabama’s Nick Saban comes to LA and visits with a top recruit, you’re not going to tell him, “Thanks Mr. Saban, but I’d rather play for Clay Helton at USC.” Just this week, former USC commit, and California’s fourth best prospect, quarterback Bryce Young left the Trojans for Alabama. California’s second best prospect, five-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, is committed to Clemson.
Uiagalelei’s teammate, Kourt Williams, is also leaving home.
“I just feel like I have a better opportunity making it to the next level playing in a Big 10, SEC-type schools than the Pac-12,” Williams said before committing to Ohio State. “They can prepare me better.”
The LA Times documented plenty of examples of local players leaving. and so has Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News.
The PAC-12 needs to address their coaching issues by spending the money it takes to compete with the best. Bringing back Chip Kelly looked like a step in the right direction for UCLA. For USC, Colin Cowherd once suggested that they should hire Sean McVay for $10 million a year. Instead, USC needs to fire Clay Helton and get Urban Meyer before someone else scoops him up. This solution indirectly helps the rest of the PAC-12.
With Meyer in the picture, USC will suddenly be back in the national title picture. As much as I hate to say it, a successful USC sets the bar for a successful PAC-12. A top dog to unseat is attractive to recruits who want to make a name for themselves. It’s also attractive to fans, creating a passionate league. I mean look at the SEC. Alabama’s domination has allowed rivalries to flourish, and other SEC teams have risen to the top of college football as a result.
Remember the last time USC was at the top of their game? Stanford and Oregon both rose to heights we never thought we’d see.