St. Patrick's Day: Green with envy in the Pac-10
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Green is the color of St. Patrick's Day, so we're all about green today.
Of course, green means many things to many people ... including envy!
So what do Pac-10 teams envy? Read on.
Arizona: The Wildcats envy ... the Wildcats. As in the basketball team. While the football team wildly celebrated its first bowl berth in 10 years this past season, the basketball team just earned its 25th consecutive NCAA tournament berth. And Mike Stoops likely would gladly trade contracts with whatever will be offered the incoming basketball coach.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils envy ... the college football overachievers, such as Oregon State. While ASU seems to be trending up under Dennis Erickson, the longstanding title of "Sleeping Giant" has haunted the program. With so much going for it, the team should be a perennial top-25 squad.
California: The Golden Bears envy ... teams with recent Rose Bowl berths. Cal has played in eight Rose Bowl -- seventh most in the country. But the Bears haven't played in one since 1959. Arizona is the only Pac-10 team to never play in the Granddaddy, but Arizona joined the conference in 1978. So no other conference team has a longer Rose Bowl drought than the Bears. And, of course, Cal fans don't want to talk about 2004.
Oregon: The Ducks envy ... teams with longstanding tradition. Oregon became a national power over the past 14 years under Mike Bellotti, and part of its modus operandi is being cutting edge and newfangled and its willingness to go for shock effect, whether that's about giant billboards in Manhattan, video game systems in every locker or outrageous uniform combinations. Yet, deep down, you get the feeling that when Notre Dame or Penn State or Alabama or USC show up on TV with their classic, consistent look, it evokes one of the few shades of green not available from the Nike pallet.
Oregon State: The Beavers envy ... all the Ducks wonderful toys. Oregon State is in a pretty good place in its rivalry with Oregon, owning a 6-5 advantage in the Civil War since 1998. The Beavers have won nine or more games each of the past three seasons and earned final national rankings. And their facilities have improved as much as any team in the Pac-10 in recent years. Still, when the Beavers tour the sports palaces in Eugene, including the are-you-freaking-kidding me locker room, it's hard not to get bitten by the green-eyed monster.
Stanford: The Cardinal envy ... packed frenzied stadiums. The Stanford Stadium renovation in 2005 was a raging success. It's a beautiful facility, and it was a great idea to kill 35,000 seats to make a more intimate 50,000-seat setting. Only even with the recent uptick in success with coach Jim Harbaugh, the program can't fill the stadium, averaging just over 34,258 fans last year, 22,000-plus less than the conference average.
UCLA: The Bruins envy ... the Los Angeles football monopoly. While USC's seven-year reign atop the Pac-10 has been a conference-wide frustration, no where is it felt more fully than at the Trojans arch city rival UCLA. Second-year coach Rick Neuheisel threw down the gauntlet when he was hired and made some headway in recruiting, but there's a long way to go until the Trojans are truly threatened.
USC: The Trojans envy ... the Football Championship Subdivision. Why? Because the FCS uses a playoff to determine a national champion. The feeling at Heritage Hall is USC would have a couple more national titles to its credit if the FBS teams also settled things on the field.
Washington: The Huskies envy ... program stability. While teams like USC, Oregon, Oregon State and California have used recent coaching continuity to reach sustained success, Washington fell by the wayside as it changed coaches five times since 1993 and three times since 2003. The Huskies won a national title in 1991 and finished ranked No. 3 in 2000. And they went winless in 2008. Talk about extremes.
Washington State: The Cougars envy ... the conference haves. Pullman is the most isolated -- and cold -- Pac-10 destination. Martin Stadium is the Pac-10's smallest venue (35,117). Paul Wulff is the Pac-10's lowest paid coach, with six conference coaches making more than double his $600,000 salary. So it ain't easy to go into Southern California and win recruiting battles, which is critical for Pac-10 success. That's why the three consecutive 10 win seasons from 2001 to 2003 was such a special achievement, one that will be difficult to duplicate.