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The West Coast Bias?

The discussion of the dreaded East Coast bias is ongoing and now Paragon SC has leapt into the fray.

As always, the Paragon offers a reasonable perspective, but one particular passage from his posting bears repeating:

Last year I was at the Swamp for the UF vs. Tenn. game. Of course I wore my USC gear, against the advice of those who we were with, and I heard the constant trash talking of people saying that the "Pac-10 wasn't a real conference". That's the mindset of a lot of people who don't follow the Pac-10. Of course the Pac-10 has really turned it on over the past few years but old habits die-hard.

Obviously, there are still fans of Southeastern Conference schools who continue to maintain that the Pacific-10 can't play defense, just as there are still fans of the West Coast league who continue to maintain that the S.E.C. can't play offense.

In fact, one of the Paragon's contributors seems to persist in perpetuating the latter stereotype, as USCLink asserted that he would root for Florida over Tennessee because "Urban Meyer is bringing his spread offense into the SEC, so he doesn't count as an SEC coach yet in my mind." This is the kind of cognitive dissonance that we in the South find infuriating.

When is an S.E.C. coach not an S.E.C. coach? Apparently, when someone who doesn't like the S.E.C. likes him.

To make matters worse, USCLink lists eight rules, one of which is divided into parts "a" and "b," but he misnumbers them, designating two rules as number 5, so it is hard to make head or tail of what he is trying to say.

Nevertheless, it appears that he thinks Georgia Tech's game against Notre Dame is "a wash" because of Rule 4 ("Root against Notre Dame") and Rule 6, misnumbered as the second Rule 5 ("Root against the SEC"). If that is the case, someone should mention to USCLink that the Yellow Jackets left the Southeastern Conference in the mid-1960s. Talk about your old habits dying hard.

The truth, of course, is that the quality of S.E.C. defenses makes S.E.C. offenses look worse than they really are and the quality of Pac-10 offenses makes Pac-10 defenses look worse than they really are. This is why, for instance, last bowl season featured Pac-10 teams putting up points on good defenses (Southern California's 38 points against Texas in the Rose Bowl) and S.E.C. teams shutting down good offenses (Alabama holding Texas Tech in check in the Cotton Bowl). Where S.E.C. teams broke down defensively, they also performed well offensively (Georgia scoring 35 points in defeat in the Sugar Bowl).

I remember when my opinion of the Pac-10 began to change for the better. For a while in the late '90s and the early 21st century, it seemed as though West Coast teams had a nasty habit of losing non-conference road games. At the time, the Pac-10 commissioner defended his league by saying, in essence, we'll do better when we get some of these teams in our back yard.

John Mackovic . . . helping the Pac-10's case as the head coach at Texas, hurting the Pac-10's case as the head coach at Arizona.

I thought that was wishful thinking and hyperbole. It wasn't. Oregon lost at Wisconsin in 2000 . . . but the Ducks defeated the Badgers at home in 2001. Oregon State lost at Fresno State in 2001 . . . but the Beavers beat the Bulldogs at home in 2002. Stanford lost at North Carolina in 1997 and at Notre Dame in 1998 and 2000 . . . but the Cardinal beat the Tar Heels at home in 1998 and defeated the Fighting Irish at the Farm in 1999 and 2001.

Along the way, the Pac-10 started winning on the road, as well. Cal beat Oklahoma in Berkeley in 1997 . . . then the Bears beat the Sooners in Norman in 1998. U.C.L.A. lost at Ohio State in 1999 but beat the Buckeyes in Westwood in 2001 . . . and the Bruins also beat Alabama, both at home and away, in 2000 and 2001. U.S.C. lost at Notre Dame in 2001 but beat the Golden Domers in the Coliseum in 2002 . . . and the Trojans also beat Auburn, both at home and away, in 2002 and 2003.

Those results speak to the Pac-10's quality as a conference. The presence of ill-informed fans in the Sunshine State doth not an East Coast bias make . . . not any more than the existence of Southern California fans who reflexively root against S.E.C. teams and segregate out such coaches as Al Borges and Urban Meyer because they're not "real" S.E.C. coaches makes all Pac-10 fans prejudiced against the South.

I tell my left-wing friends that I'll stop referring to C.B.S. News and The New York Times as "the liberal media" when they stop referring to a tribunal that has not overturned a single significant Warren Court decision as "the conservative Supreme Court." I'll make a similar offer to my left-coast friends: we won't give you reason to believe in an East Coast bias if you'll quit giving us reason to believe you have a West Coast bias.

Go 'Dawgs!