On Tuesday’s edition of the radio show I cohost, Gunther and Graham on 1320 KFAN in Salt Lake City, we talked with San Jose Mercury News Pac-12 columnist Jon Wilner. During that interview he mentioned that Washington was in the second tier of the Pac-12 and that Steve Sarkisian needs to take the program up into the first tier to keep his job long term. That sparked an idea to create and place the Pac-12 programs in tiers.
In all I created four tiers and listed all the Pac-12 football programs appropriately:
TIER 1: (National Championship contenders; regular appearances in the top 10)
-Oregon: The Ducks clearly are considered an elite program with nine winning seasons and three Pac-12 titles in the past 10 years including an appearance in the BCS Championship game.
-Stanford: The Cardinal has become a regular top 10 program doing it the old school way.
-USC: Despite last year’s disappointing season the Trojans have six Pac-12 titles in the last 10 years and is still regularly considered the leagues most talented program.
TIER 2: (Pac-12 league title contenders)
-UCLA: This is a school that clearly gets talent but hasn’t seemed to have the coach to corral it all with great results on the field. With Jim Mora it appears they have finally found their guy.
-Oregon State: After a couple down years Mike Riley has the Beavers back on the upswing.
-Washington: After leading the Huskies to three straight winning seasons Sarkisian is under pressure to take the program to the first tier.
TIER 3: (Middle of the pack, average teams in the Pac-12)
-Arizona State: Another program that is considered to have talent but has posted just five winning seasons in the last 10 years. Year one was good to Todd Graham. Curious to see if he can sustain it.
-Arizona: Wildcat fans are putting their faith in Rich Rodriguez to get this program into a higher tier and the hope to one day win a Rose Bowl.
-California: Under Jeff Tedford, the Golden Bears posted eight winning seasons including one Pac-12 championship in the last 10 seasons. Definitely enough to warrant at least a Tier 2 designation. Problem is Tedford is gone and now the program begins to rebuild under Sonny Dykes.
TIER 4: (Schools with limited hope to contend in the Pac-12 in the near future)
-Utah: After going 7-5 in year one of a down conference, the Utes went backwards in year two and have yet to post a signature league win (have failed to even post a victory over a Pac-12 team with a winning record). Add in that they will finally have to play Oregon and Stanford after being left off the schedule the first two seasons it will take time for the Utes to move into a higher tier.
-Washington State: With only one season with a winning record in the past 10, I’m not sure even Mike Leach can get this program to respectability.
-Colorado: Entering their third season the Buffaloes are already on their second head coach. Like Utah, it will take time to build.