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Washington Upsetting Stanford is a Bad Thing For The Pac 12? It's Time to Cease the Conference Dick Measuring

Washington beat Stanford 17-13 last night, with much help from Justin Wilcox. Let’s not read too much into this.

Stanford was not a BCS Title contender. The Cardinal beat USC at home. They were undefeated before last night. Voters ranked them in the Top 10. Some hopped on the “they have not lost much from last year” bandwagon. Stanford is a good team, but they have lost a ton from last year. Entering last night’s game they were 73rd in yards per play offense. In 2011, they were 6th. Josh Nunes ranked 77th in passer rating. Andrew Luck finished 5th last year. That level of production does not sustain a juggernaut.

Stanford is quite decent, but they don’t have the athleticism to dominate teams successively without a great quarterback. They just present a particular problem for a team that is – we’ll just come right out and say it – soft on both lines like USC.

The transitive property does not apply to college football. Teams are not finite mathematical quantities. They perform differently on different days and against different teams. Using the transitive property to say that LSU beating down Washington implies how much better LSU would be than Stanford and USC is logically invalid. If Virginia Tech upsets Florida State later this season, that logic would make it a great thing for Pitt or, for that matter, Youngstown State. We would take LSU straight up against Washington, Stanford and USC. Using the transitive property is a false, ineffectual way of arguing that. How one team does on a particular week is not a credit or an indictment of every team they have played.

Stop the conference dick measuring. We have become obsessed with “conferences” and “relevance” at the expensive of teams. Washington beating Stanford has been portrayed as a bad thing for the Pac 12. When you measure the Pac 12 against other conferences, there is just one undefeated team in the Top 10. This makes the Pac 12 less “relevant” nationally. This is a jaundiced, awful way of viewing college football. Conferences having multiple good teams that can challenge on their day and make a conference exciting is a bad thing? The Pac 12 would be better off with nine body bags to leave the cream unspoiled? The Big 12 has five or six teams that may legitimately challenge for the title. It will be hard for a team to go undefeated. Should we consider that a disaster?

This pan-tribalism is cynical and destructive. It has no organic relevance for fans outside the SEC. “Big Ten” fans are fans of their school first and little else. There’s some regional and cultural affinity between schools but conference solidarity, if it exists, is faint. Michigan State fans root for Utah State trying to upset Wisconsin. If Ohio State is in the title game, Michigan fans root for Florida. There has been little reason for fans to chant “Big Ten, Big Ten” of late, but it would never occur to “Big Ten fans” to do so. Pac 12 fans enjoy watching Lane Kiffin fail. Big 12 fans are not morose and pining over the conference relevance loss when Bob Stoops has his “Texas Tech” moment every year.

There is no battle, until a team beats the SEC in the title game. Framing the entire season within an artificial one for “relevance” is reductive, alien to most fans and annoying. Yes, “SEC fan,” there are four SEC teams in the AP top six. How this reflects brightly on you, rooting for Tennessee, is unclear.

[Photo via Presswire]

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