Pac Tracks: Washington, USC, Colorado could join Rankman's conspiracy list of top Pac teams left out of championship mix

If one-loss Washington wins out it might clearly be deserving of a spot in the four-team playoff.

But not get in.

If two-loss Colorado wins out it might clearly be deserving of a spot in the four-team playoff.

But not get in.

If three-loss USC wins out it might clearly be deserving of a spot in the four-team playoff.

But not get in.

Welcome to life in the Passed Over 12.

The Pac 12's concerted effort to gain a football foothold in the national narrative is clearly not working. Despite more money, more exposure and private-plane junkets to ESPN's Bristol Headquarters, Larry Scott’s league is fighting the same perception problems Tom Hansen’s league did.

Blame it on time zones, late games and bias. Blame it on Rio if you like, but it's real.

To the outside world, except for USC, the Pac 12 is a last-call afterthought in an east-coast saloon. After the Trojans everyone has Attention Deficit Disorder.

How else do you explain Texas A&M being ranked ahead of Washington in the first College Football Playoff ranking? Or 8-3 Stanford still not being ranked in the AP or USA Today coaches’ poll? With a win over USC?

Nine out of 10 dentists recently surveyed had no idea Christian McCaffrey was still in college and actually leading the nation again in all-purpose yardage.

Stanford was so LAST year.

Most of the 2016 playoff scenarios I heard by the talking heads this weekend involved the Pac 12 getting left out, not in.

Anyone hear a scenario in which two-loss Colorado makes the four-team field?[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Everyone loves three-loss USC these days and not just because the Trojans are the nation's hottest team. USC is the only team brand name in the Pac 12—the only name outsiders trust.

And even that probably won’t be good enough this year because of those three losses.

Historically, the Pac 12 has an incredible knack for being left outside the playground gates. In the two-team BCS the league was great at finishing third and fourth. In the four-team playoff the conference is looking to tear up spots No. 5, 6, 7.

When the playoff expands to eight, the league will surly dominate positions No. 9 and 10.

Oregon made it to the first playoff only because it had Marcus Mariota and an overwhelming resume. The committee had no choice. Last year, though, the best Stanford team in history finished sixth, one spot behind Iowa, which it blew off the field in the Rose Bowl.

This year’s committee dilemma is possibly leaving USC, a team it may think is one of the four best in the country, out of the playoff. And it is tough to justify ranking a three-loss team ahead of a two-loss champions such as Penn State, Wisconsin or Oklahoma.

It got me thinking about the best Pac teams in the BCS era (post 1998) that never got the chance to play for the big prize.

1: USC (2003). The Trojans were ranked No.1 in both polls but finished third in the BCS standings. This omission was so egregious the AP broke ranks and named USC its national champion.

2: Oregon (2001). The Joey Harrington-led Ducks would have not defeated Miami for the national championship that year. But Oregon, not Nebraska, should have played Miami. The Ducks finished No. 2 in both polls but No. 4 in the BCS standings. Huh? Nebraska nabbed the No. 2 spot on the strength of a its 62-36 season-ending LOSS at Colorado. What?

3: Oregon (2007). Led by quarterback Dennis Dixon and first-year offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, the Ducks were streaking toward a national championship spot when Dixon blew his knew out late in the season. That was a great team.

4: Stanford (2015). The Cardinal's big mistake was losing a 10 a.m. road opener at Northwestern it didn’t need to schedule. That loss kept Stanford out of the playoff but not from blazing to a Rose Bowl championship with an emphatic win over Iowa.

5: UCLA (1998). A hurricane may have cost the Bruins an appearance in the first BCS title game. UCLA lost a heart breaker make-up game to Miami, in December. For what it’s worth, a late Bruin “fumble” would have today been overturned by replay and secured a UCLA victory. Of course, so would have making ONE tackle against Miami back Edgerrin James. But, as it turned out, he was Edgerrin James.

6: Washington (2000). The Huskies finished fourth in the BCS standings. Too bad it was only a two-team playoff then.

7: USC (2002). The Carson Palmer-led Trojans finished fourth. Same problem: good team, wrong format.

8: California (2004). The Bears finished fifth, one spot behind Texas, by the margin of .8476 to .8347. Cal fans are still outraged. Imagine if that system would have determined the final playoff spot?

9: USC (2006). A still-inexplicable 13-9 loss to UCLA cost the Trojans the national championship. Unless you think USC would have lost to Ohio State.

10: Stanford (2010). Jim Harbaugh’s Cardinal finished No. 4 in the final BCS standings. Its only loss was at 12-0 Oregon. Stanford, in today’s system, would have been a strong, non-champion playoff candidate.[/membership]