Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com is the RTC correspondent for the Big West and Pac-10 Conferences.
Sometimes it’s not so painful to watch a once proud and mighty warrior fall from grace, as it is bizarre. You may be able to accept that nothing lasts forever, and that eventually the tide must turn. But it’s one thing to have a rebuilding year, and quite another to be a national laughingstock. Yet, that term best describes the way that Pac-10 teams have performed so far in this early season. It also describes the way that the conference’s flagship program, the UCLA Bruins, has performed so far in this early season. The Pac-10, we knew, was a conference in decline. But few predicted that the decline would be so far, so fast.
The conference’s two Top 25 teams have each suffered losses to unranked, seemingly-lesser teams. The conference was soundly beaten in this week’s Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge, losing each of Thursday night’s three games. In fact, until late Friday, the Pac-10 Conference has not won a single game since Monday night, when Arizona State defeated 0-5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Obviously it’s early in the season, and this is a conference that will play its best basketball later in the season, but the Pac-10 was considered mediocre among the power conferences this season and has instead looked dreadful, while the two teams that did possess national potential are obviously flawed and UCLA continues to trip all over itself. It’ll take a lot for the Pac-10 to rebuild its reputation this season, so let’s take a look at what’s transpired thus far.