PAC TRACKS: What's Wrong With the Conference? Follow The Leaders

Poor coaching and shaky quarterback situations threaten to take Pac 12 out of playoff chase

Pac 12 playoff chances may be now be best framed by Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert's now-infamous Hail Mary heave, which took off in Arlington and landed in Waco.

We're dubbing it “Hail Jerry” in honor of the game being hosted in the Dallas Cowboys' stadium.

Much has been comically made of Herbert’s last-ditch pitch that could have salvaged a miracle win over Auburn.

The world can be merciless.

Was there a movie on that flight?

JFK: "I believe our nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing an Oregon pass on the Moon and returning it home safely."

Truth is, the game should have never become the butt end of a joke.

Oregon mostly dominated but turned a gift chance to defeat the SEC into “Duck Soup.”

It started with a dropped touchdown pass that led to a botched field goal and that was followed by a botched center exchange, deep in Auburn territory.

The Ducks could have been up, 28-3, on their way to a national warning salvo, but that's not the way it turned out...at all.

Reminder: Oregon had the veteran quarterback and future first-round NFL pick; Auburn had the true freshman.

Only it was Auburn’s guy, Bo Nix, who came through in the clutch.

How many chances like this are you going to get?

Television cameras caught Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott prowling the sideline in Texas and for the first time in his tenure, I could see in his face he knew this was a image-defining game.

Ultimately, though, another one of his coaches got out-coached on the big stage. This time it was Mario Cristobal.

It reminded me of the 2014 championship game, when Oregon pitted Mark Helfrich against Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.

Game over.

The Pac 12, since Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly left for the NFL, has lacked a megawatt capable of pushing a team over the top.

There is no Saban, no Urban, no Dabo, no Jimbo and seemingly, no sense of urgency.

The Pac 12, I am convinced, has players capable of competing with the SEC. But the record states that Larry's League is 0-10 versus top-10 SEC opponents since 2008.

The Pac 12 woefully lacks, at this moment, at the key leadership positions: commissioner, coaching and quarterback.

USC Coach Clay Helton?

On the first play of the 2019 season, USC was caught with two players wearing No. 7, negating a 61-yard kickoff return.

“I bet that won’t happen again,” he said later.

No, Clay, it should never happen.

UCLA Coach Chip Kelly looks like a shell of the coach he was at Oregon a decade ago.

There appears no discernible improvement from last year’s opening loss to Cincinnati to this year’s opening loss to Cincinnati.

There is little imagination on offense, none of the “up-tempo” Kelly made famous and--worst of all-- unacceptable play at the quarterback position.

Chris Petersen has fielded quality teams at Washington but left his “riverboat gambler” mentality in Boise.

The conference’s best coach, Mike Leach, is innovative and fearless, but probably can’t consistently recruit enough players to win it all at Washington State.

David Shaw (Stanford) and Kyle Whittingham (Utah) are solid guys but I’ve never met anyone yet who has compared either to Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney.

Kevin Sumlin at Arizona? Uh, no.

Herm Edwards at Arizona State. (Not enough data).

Justin Wilcox, Cal?

Add that to the Pac 12’s current shaky state at commissioner and the quarterback position and you can see why it's easy to write off 2019.

USC, which DOES have players, has a huge climb now that JT Daniels, who looked very sharp against Fresno State, has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Herbert, at Oregon, missed his big moment to make an early statement, the same way Washington’s Jake Browning fumbled his chance a few years ago on Labor Day weekend.

Stanford quarterback KJ Costello got knocked out of last week’s game against Northwestern.

UCLA's quarterback situation is a situation comedy.

Bottom line: If your conference can’t consistently lead, coach or play quarterback, you have no chance.

The Pac 12’s path to the playoff, once again, has the look of a clogged artery.

The only hopes now appear to be Washington and Utah, which led the positive parade coming out of Labor Day.

Why?

Washington has Petersen and quarterback Jacob Eason, a transfer from Georgia who was stellar in UW’s opening win over Eastern Washington.

Utah has Whittingham and Tyler Huntley, a veteran quarterback who led his Utes to a quality win at hostile Brigham Young.

The SEC motto is "It Just Means More."

The Pac 12 needs to trademark "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
.AlbanyBear
.AlbanyBear

"Justin Wilcox, Cal?" That's encouraging.

Bcorig
Bcorig

Yup



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