The Pac-12 may be having the worst year on record for any Power 5 conference.
It started on the gridiron. The conference failed to have a representative in the College Football Playoff while also posting the worst bowl record of any Power 5 conference in history.
Including Saturday's Washington loss to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, the Pac-12 finished just 1-8 in bowl games this postseason. It's the worst win percentage by a Power-5 Conference with at least 5 games played in a single postseason.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2017
Then the USC basketball team was snubbed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. USC earned the dubious distinction of having the highest RPI of any major conference team to not earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
With an RPI of No. 34, USC is the highest-ranked major conference team ever left out of the NCAA Tournament in the 68-team era.
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) March 11, 2018
Only three teams from the Pac-12 — Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA — earned tickets to the Big Dance. All three were one-and-done as Arizona State and UCLA lost their First Four games, while Arizona was upset by Buffalo in the first round.
The Pac-12 is the fifth conference to go 0-3 or worse in the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985:
1989 SEC 0-5
1985 Pac-10 0-4
2018 Pac-12 0-3
2004 Mountain West 0-3
1990 WAC 0-3
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2018
It’s been a brutal athletic year for the Pac-12, which also saw two of its programs — USC and Arizona — embroiled in the FBI scandal rocking college hoops.
The UCLA scandal in China that sent LiAngelo Ball packing from the program didn’t help the conference’s image, either.
So where does the conference go from here?
The most tangible consequence of the Pac-12’s struggles this year is revenue.
As highlighted by Jon Wilner of the Mercury News , the Pac-12 loses out on a lot of money by not having any teams advancing deep in the tournament.
The conference cost itself a significant chunk of change by not sending a team to the second round, much less the second weekend.
Three bids and no wins translates to a paltry three NCAA units from the 2018 event — units that will be carried forward for six years, starting next spring.
Wilner also estimates that each Pac-12 school lost a potential $1.3 million because of the poor performance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Pac-12 also has perhaps the worst television deal of any Power 5 league.
A report from Zach Helfand of the Los Angeles Times last year highlighted that each Pac-12 school was paid roughly $29 million from the conference. Meanwhile, the Big Ten averaged a payout of $35 million and the SEC doled out $40.5 million.
The Pac-12 Network has been a scapegoat for the league’s revenue problems.
From the L.A. Times:
(Pac-12 commissioner) Larry Scott defended the network’s performance. He said the network’s original vision was to expand exposure of its Olympic sports and to provide deeper coverage of football and basketball.
“It really has hit a lot of the objectives that we had for it,” he said. “What’s also true is that our schools hope it’s going to generate more money.”
Who will reign on the Pac-12 hardwood next year?
Arizona may see a significant drop-off next year. The Wildcats are expected to lose all five starters. On Friday, Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier declared for the NBA draft.
— Arizona DieHards (@AZDieHards) March 16, 2018
Arizona has zero commitments for the Class of 2018 after Shareef O’Neal and Brandon Williams opened up their recruitment following the scandal involving coach Sean Miller.
Oregon, which made the Final Four a year ago and won its first NIT game, has the Pac-12’s top-rated recruiting Class for 2018, according to 247Sports .
Williams is also looking at Oregon as a possible new destination.
Can the Pac-12 recover?
This may be how most fans on the West Coast are feeling right now:
So let me get this straight.
— The Pac-12 got three teams in the NCAA tournament.
— Two didn't make it out of Dayton.
— Their champ is about to lose by 25 to Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/ZprJaU3cPr
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 16, 2018
If you believe in the law of averages, though, there’s brighter days ahead.
In football, Washington is expected to be a real contender for the Pac-12 title and a CFP berth in 2018.
The Huskies basketball team is also led by Pac-12 Coach of the Year Mike Hopkins and is considered on the rise.
The future for the Pac-12 in basketball will rest largely on any consequences of the FBI scandal.
Arizona could be down next year, as could USC. Arizona State also has pieces to replace, although Bobby Hurley has the Sun Devils on the right trajectory.
Oregon will be better, Utah showed promise this season and UCLA is still progressing back toward elite status.
There’s hope that the Pac-12 can get more than three NCAA Tournament berths next season, but there’s just as much doubt.
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