Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Top 10 Pac-10 moments the decade
By Ted Miller
Great and notable -- and not so-great -- moments of the Pac-10 decade.
Note: Games of the decade comes tomorrow.
10. Le Affair de Neuheisel: Washington fired Rick Neuheisel before the 2003 season amid an NCAA probe into his participation into a high-stakes pool on the NCAA basketball tournament. Neuheisel would go on to win a $4.5 million settlement for wrongful termination. The Huskies subsequently would endure their worst run in program history.
9. Civil War for the Roses: While both teams were ranked higher in the 2000 Civil War, Oregon and Oregon had never previously played for higher stakes: a Rose Bowl berth for the winner. The game matched the pregame hype as the Ducks prevailed in a 37-33 thriller.
8. Pullman goes nuts: "The ruling on the field was that it was a backward pass. Washington recovered that pass, and the game is over," said the referee presiding over the 2002 Apple Cup. The Huskies' 29-26 upset win over then-No. 3-ranked Washington State in triple overtime ended on a controversial play that was about as inconclusive on replay as a play could be. Fans in Martin Stadium, however, thought they were getting jobbed, and they preceded to bombard the field with bottles and other objects.
7. Oregon left out: The BCS computers preferred No. 4 Nebraska, fresh off a 62-36 loss to Colorado, which knocked the Cornhuskers out of the Big 12 championship game, over No. 2 Oregon for the national title game vs. Miami. The Hurricanes routed Nebraska 37-14 for the national title, while the Ducks stomped Colorado 38-16 in the Fiesta Bowl.
6. Price to Alabama: When rumors started swirling that Alabama wanted to hire Washington State coach Mike Price, it seemed like a terrible match. It was. Price, after leading his listless Cougars to a loss in the 2003 Rose Bowl against Oklahoma, took over the Crimson Tide but would never coach a game. He was fired after an intoxicated afternoon at a strip club became a national scandal.
5. USC left out: USC was No. 1 in both human polls at the end of the 2003 season, but the BCS computers saw differently and matched LSU and Oklahoma for the computer title, even though the Sooners had just been beaten 35-7 by Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. LSU beat Oklahoma, while USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The AP and FWAA polls crowned the Trojans national champions. The coaches poll was contractually obligated to name LSU its champion, though three coaches rebelled and voted USC No. 1.
4. The replay screw-up: The scoreboard said Oregon 34, Oklahoma 33 in Autzen Stadium on Sept. 16, 2006, but Sooners fans -- and everybody else, really -- knew differently. In what was surely the worst replay call in history, the Ducks were "awarded" possession on an onside kick in which the kick was illegal -- it touched an Oregon player before going 10 yards -- and was recovered by the Sooners anyway. The Pac-10 office later admitted the call was blown. Bringing it up remains an outstanding method to annoy Oklahoma fans.
3. Bellotti to Kelly announced: On March 13, 2009, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, the dean of Pac-10 coaches and the fifth-longest tenured coach in FBS football, handed the Ducks over to offensive coordinator Chip Kelly. Bellotti, who became Oregon's athletic director, went 116-55 in 14 seasons as the Oregon coach.
2. Bush push: The play became the defining -- and controversial -- moment of No. 1 USC's 34-31 win at No. 9 Notre Dame in 2005, though a 61-yard pass from Matt Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett on fourth-and-9 on the final drive was just as dramatic. Leinart's initial push on a quarterback sneak for the winning touchdown in the waning moments failed, but running back Reggie Bush jumped into the fray and pushed Leinart into the end zone. A couple of Notre Dame fans through the years have noted that such a play is against the rules.
1. USC hires Pete Carroll: On Dec. 15, 2000, USC made a decision that was almost unanimously panned by the media and fans: It hired Carroll as its head football coach. Things, however, worked out OK for the Trojans.