Ten years ago, PAC-10 athletic directors voted 8-2 not only to add a post-league-play men'ês basketball tournament starting in 2002 but to enshrine the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That "8-2" would amount to surpassing numbers were it the league record of one of this season's PAC-10 teams. As of end-of-play Saturday, though, the best any of the men'ês contingents can claim is Cal'ês 7-4, with five — yes, five — clubs, including the UW Dawgs (after trouncing both Arizona programs), at 6-5.
Most notable local stat beyond the Huskies' 16-7 overall record: The Washington men are winless on the road. Oh, yeah, and to belabor the obvious, the Staples Center is on the road.
What this all very well means is that the only Pac-10 representative to the NCAA tourney would be the winner of the league playoff in March.
Here's Mark Schlabach of the ESPN online 'êBubble Watch'ê feature last week: "Chances are there could be only one Pac-10 team included in the (NCAA tourney) field when the dust settles. And it's a shame the NCAA probably won't have the guts to make the PAC-10 champion participate in the NCAA opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio. That's how lousy the league has been this season."
Some would say "lousy." Others might say "balanced." The latter, unfortunately, would deem it "parity" that, in league play, the men are all within a game or three of .500 with seven conference tiffs remaining. The more compelling repudiation of "parity": Pac-10 teams have lost to some pretty marginal non-league competition this season.
For what it's worth, then, and it ain't worth much given the league's unquestioning commitment to a Los Angeles-based conference tournament, maybe this is the perfect time for Pac-10 athletic directors to consider moving around the post-season playoff. In fairness, it should shuttle between at least seven cities: Tucson, Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Spokane, in addition to LA. This would end the spectacle of USC and UCLA fans traveling mere miles to, in effect, lend home-floor advantage to the Trojans and Bruins.
Put another way: Given how the Huskies (mostly) play at home, imagine the advantage they'd have this year if the post-season tourney were held at KeyArena.
Oh, and the (pardon our French) raison d'etre offered by league officials for the Staples Center preference? It's because, a decade ago, it was noted that LA is, after all, the second largest media market in America. Right, and, worth reminding this Super Bowl Sunday, one that hasn't even had an NFL franchise since 1994.