LOS ANGELES — Call this the Loser’s Lament or the Siren Song of the Scorned, the Harmony of the Harrowed or the Jingle of the Jilted. It’s a rare gloomy, rainy night in normally sunny Southern California, and I’m sitting here once again wondering why we can’t have nice things.

On Monday, two teams from football hotbeds will square off in our back yard, SoFi Stadium, for all the marbles. Georgia, which has been a downhill train all season, and TCU, the Horned Frogs, the miracle of all miracles, outlasting a field that included Ohio State and Michigan, not to mention Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Clemson and a host of others.

Notice among that group is nary a Pac-12 team, our best teams cannibalized from within, torn from the guts on out, hideous, disfigured.

It’s been a half-dozen years since the conference put a team in the Final Four, and another two before that since the Pac-12 vied for a championship.

Since then, misery has begotten misery, true blues have turned their programs over to true buffoons, and the league has languished a level or two below mediocrity.

Now what? We watch Georgia and TCU vie for the title in the land of UCLA and USC, which won’t be Pac-12 territory much longer.

What has happened to our beloved league? How have we gotten to this point?


A little context: Prior to joining Saturday Out West, I last covered the Pac-12 on a daily basis in 2016, as a staff writer for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.

In those days, Washington was a budding beast under Chris Petersen, Stanford was still incredibly strong, Oregon was just starting to fall off the cliff under Mark Helfrich and USC was still learning that Clay Helton wasn’t the answer.

But think about it: The Huskies advance to the CFP in 2016 a year after the Cardinal fall just short, settling for a Rose Bowl rout of Iowa and a No. 3 final ranking. The year before that, 2014, Marcus Mariota won the Heisman and guided the Ducks to a title-game loss to Ohio State, two years after they finished No. 2 in the country after a Rose Bowl win. A year before that, Oregon, Stanford and USC all finished in the top 7.

And that was after the Trojans regularly battled for pole position throughout the 2000s after UCLA’s late-’90s surge.

We’re talking an almost 20-year stretch where the Pac-12 was regularly vying for top-4 status.

Since 2016, the league has had only one season even sniffing the top-4: 2019, when Oregon took out No. 5 Utah in the conference title game then beat No. 8 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to finish the season ranked 5th.

Of course, where did the Ducks start that season? Losing to Bo Nix and Auburn at AT&T Stadium.

Out of the picture from Week 1: The Pac-12 story.


This isn’t just a sorrowful song from a sad sack wondering if it it’s time to move to Athens or Tuscaloosa or somewhere where gravy is a fixture for three meals a day. Someone much smarter than me can probably calculate the untold dollars that have gone toward beefing up Bama and the Dawgs.

The league has been at a competitive disadvantage for years, the rich getting richer throughout the Southeast and Midwest. The mere fact that TCU could go down as the first preseason unranked squad to win the national title since Georgia Tech in 1990 should infuriate Pac-12 fans.

How has a Utah or an Oregon or a Washington not broken through, much less USC? Not to win it all. Not to advance to the title game. Merely a semifinal berth. That’s all were asking.

The Conference of Champions has one more year to compete for a Final Four berth before the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams, rendering our frustration muted.

One more year to prove it belongs in the Power 5. Rather than the Sour 1.