NCAA committee treats three-bid Pac 12 like a two-bit league

You were wrong as late as last Wednesday to suggest things couldn’t get worse for the Pac 12.


You failed miserably to anticipate Thursday night’s halftime show at the Pac 12 Tournament, in Las Vegas, during which a performance by the "Australian Bee Gees" was butchered so badly it made you reconsider Rosanne's rendition of the national anthem.

Naturally, it wasn’t the band’s fault, and the Pac 12 issued an apology for the “technical-audio difficulties they experienced.”

It was the worst catastrophe associated with the Bee Gees since their hit “New York Mining Disaster 1941.”

But then came Saturday, after Arizona, a team under heavy FBI scrutiny, won the Pac 12 title over the USC Wire Taps. Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott was booed so lustily at the post-game ceremonies Arizona Coach Sean Miller could be seen mouthing “Don’t do that” to his fans.

Think about that. Sean Miller offering comfort to someone else in the Pac 12.

That led to Sunday's face-slap, when the NCAA selection committee armed-guard ushered only three Pac 12 schools into its 68-field tournament.

Most experts had the Pac, even in a down year, getting four teams.

Wait, it gets worse. Two of the schools, UCLA and Arizona State, are double-digit seeds jettisoned to play-in games in Dayton.

UCLA plays St. Bonaventure on Tuesday while Arizona State faces Syracuse on Wednesday.

UCLA fans haven’t thought about Dayton since the Bruins’ 1967 national title win over the Flyers in Louisville. This is the most humiliating "side-hatch bracket" assignment for UCLA since 1974, when it had to play Kansas in the consolation game after losing in double OT to North Carolina State in the national semifinals.

Fourth-seeded Arizona, the last Pac 12 team to win an NCAA basketball title, is now the conference’s best chance to win the title again—but then maybe have to vacate it.

But the NCAA selection committee really had the good, last laugh on USC, which finished second in the league and then advanced to the tournament title game.

The Trojans’ exclusion, despite its RPI of 34, unleashed the hounds of conspiracy theorists still burnt at the NCAA Infractions committee for disproportionately hammering USC in the Reggie Bush case.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Look, you could certainly make a Caine Mutiny case that the NCAA did not want USC in the field while it was under the scope of an FBI probe.

It was bad-publicity enough USC and Arizona had to meet for the Pac 12 title. The committee, remember, had to take Arizona as an automatic bid.


The committee also left FBI-probed Louisville and Oklahoma State out of its three-week party, guaranteeing these schools couldn't take any shine off the event that has helped the NCAA become a billion-dollar cash cow.

USC Coach Andy Enfield had every reason to be miffed by the snub.

“If all that matters is the quality of your best win, or two, on you schedule, then we should set the field in December,” he said at a Sunday news conference, basically taking a shot at Arizona State’s inclusion into the field. “It basically discredited our entire league’s schedule.”

Welcome to the club, Andy, but you're not alone. In 2012, Washington was excluded from the NCAA tournament after winning the regular season title.

“We’re very disappointed,” Enfield said, “Our players deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament.”

Enfield is right, although I’m also holding off thinking this is the worst news the program is going to face in coming days, weeks, or months.

The bottom line is this: the NCAA committee kicked the Pac 12 because it could. The conference is at a low ebb, with the team excluded being investigated by an organization once run by J. Edgar Hoover.

The Pac 12 has no voice, currently, to push back. Trying to defend the league is difficult because many of its most important games are not available on DirecTV.

If ever there was a year to bash the league, this is it, although 2012 is right up there.

The league’s only football bowl winner, Utah, wasn’t in the conference 10 years ago. While Arizona, the Pac 12’s last, lone hope, is also not a charter member.

It is in tough times like these that Pac 12 fans, before all those technical\audio problems, wanted to seek comfort in cover bands like the Australian Bee Gees.

This, now, has become the Pac 12 sing-along.

How to you mend a broken league?

How does a loser ever win? [/membership]