Still a bit surprised something came up in Google Image Search when I typed in "Flying Cougar"
And now we move into the Northern half of the Pac 12. When conferences construct divisions these days they should do it with one thing in mind: “For the love of God, don’t make the Big 12 North.” The mistake the Big 12 made there was assuming that Nebraska could carry an entire division forever, and do it well enough to beat the best team out of Texas/Oklahoma/Texas A&M once every couple years. As everyone saw, this simply didn’t end up working out. Every big program has lulls, and when Nebraska went into a lull there was nobody in the Big 12 North who could realistically step up and contend with the South. This made for some real snoozers as far as Championship games go, culminating in the South winning every championship from 2004 to 2010 (when the championship could no longer be played).
Herein lies the problem with the Pac 12 as it is currently divided. The only power in the South is USC. Yes, that is one hell of a power, but history has shown that no program can sustain this level of success indefinitely. Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, Miami (currently!), etc., have all gone through significant periods of time in which they produced mediocre teams. More proof? It happened to USC! From 1996-2001 USC won more than 6 games just one time.
When USC goes into a lull, who will step up? Arizona State? Utah? UCLA? Colorado? Sounds a lot like Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas, and… Colorado… to me. The Pac 12 North, however, has one team that could cement itself as a USC-type elite program in Eugene, OR (Thanks, Nike!), two teams with coaches building teams to contend for many years (the Washingtons; Mike Leach and Steve Sarkisian), one team that has shown the ability to contend at the highest level recently (Stanford) and two teams who have shown the ability to contend historically (Oregon State and Cal). What happens when USC goes down? Well… last year’s title game, basically. Good luck, USC! The only hope for a competitive Pac 12 title game rests with you!
So in this intensely competitive Pac 12 North, who will emerge victorious? How about the Ducks, with their menagerie of ever-changing uniforms? Can Stanford maintain their recent level of success? Can Mike Leach do for WSU what he did for Texas Tech (Hint: Yes)? Once again, with 100% accuracy, your 2012 Pac 12 North final standings: