The AP Top 25 poll renders judgment on the Pac-12 season and, once again, it's not pretty

The Rose Bowl trophy and team helmets are displayed during a press conference in Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.

The Rose Bowl trophy and team helmets are displayed during a press conference in Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

The final Associated Press Top 25 was released Monday night and included just two Pac-12 teams.

Utah, which won the conference and lost to Ohio State in a Rose Bowl for the ages, was No. 12. The other team, Oregon, finished No. 22 after losing three of its final four games.

(My ballot, which had those same two teams and only those same two teams, can be found here.)

Not surprisingly, the Pac-12 had the worst showing in the final AP poll of any Power Five league and was, in fact, no better than two Group of Five conferences.

Distribution of teams in the final AP Top 25 poll by conference:

SEC: five (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and Arkansas)
ACC: four (Pitt, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Clemson)
Big Ten: four (Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa)
Big 12: three (Baylor, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma)
American: two (Cincinnati and Houston)
Independents: two (Notre Dame and BYU)
Mountain West: two (Utah State and San Diego State)
Pac-12: two ( Utah and Oregon)
Sun Belt: one (Louisiana)

Far more revealing, in our view, is this: The Pac-12 has not placed more than two teams in the final AP poll since the 2017 season.

The raw number of ranked teams over that four-year span is seven.

Meanwhile, the Mountain West has had eight ranked teams in the last four AP polls.

The American has had nine.

The Pac-12's poor showing in 2020 (one ranked team in the final poll, USC) can be easily excused: The conference started later than its peers, played fewer games and only participated in two bowls.

But add the final AP polls from 2018, '19 and '21 to the calculation, and there's an unmistakable arc — a distinct erosion in performance as judged by a national body of media members that has served as the sport's judge and jury since the 1930s.

Not long ago, the Pac-12 was regularly placing five or six teams in the end-of-season AP rankings, but no longer. And the combination of a weak top and mediocre middle has stripped the conference of two potential calling cards:

— It hasn't produced playoff-caliber teams (think: Big 12 with Oklahoma or ACC with Clemson).

— It doesn't have the quality depth to match the SEC or Big Ten.

But trace the rise and fall for yourself: We have provided every Pac-12 team featured in the AP preseason and postseason polls since the conference expanded in 2011.

(Playoff teams in bold.)

2011

  • Preseason (3): No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford, No. 25 USC
  • Postseason (3): No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 USC, No. 7 Stanford

2012

  • Preseason (3): No. 1 USC, No. 5 Oregon, No. 21 Stanford
  • Postseason (3): No. 2 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford, No. 20 Oregon State

2013

  • Preseason (5): No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Stanford, No. 21 UCLA, No. 24 USC, No. 25 Oregon State
  • Postseason (6): No. 9 Oregon, No. 11 Stanford, No. 16 UCLA, No. 19 USC, No. 20 ASU, No. 25 Washington

2014

  • Preseason (6): No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 USC, No. 19 ASU, No. 25 Washington
  • Postseason (6):No. 2 Oregon, No. 10 UCLA, No. 12 ASU, No. 19 Arizona, No. 20 USC, No. 21 Utah

2015

  • Preseason (6): No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 USC, No. 13 UCLA, No. 15 ASU, No. 21 Stanford, No. 22 Arizona
  • Postseason (3): No. 3 Stanford, No. 17 Utah, No. 19 Oregon

2016

  • Preseason (5): No. 8 Stanford, No. 14 Washington, No. 16 UCLA, No. 20 USC, No. 24 Oregon
  • Postseason (5): No. 3 USC, No. 4 Washington, No. 12 Stanford, No. 17 Colorado, No. 23 Utah

2017

  • Preseason (4): No. 4 USC, No. 8 Washington, No. 14 Stanford, No. 24 Washington State
  • Postseason (3): No. 12 USC, No. 16 Washington, No. 20 Stanford

2018

  • Preseason (4): No. 6 Washington, No. 13 Stanford, No. 15 USC, No. 24 Oregon
  • Postseason (2): No. 10 Washington State, No. 13 Washington

2019

  • Preseason (5): No. 11 Oregon, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 Utah, No. 23 Washington State, No. 25 Stanford
  • Postseason (2): No. 5 Oregon, No. 16 Utah

2020

  • Preseason (3): No. 9 Oregon, No. 17 USC, No. 22 Utah
  • Postseason (1): No. 21 USC

2021

  • Preseason (5): No. 11 Oregon, No. 15 USC, No. 20 Washington, No. 24 Utah, No. 25 ASU
  • Postseason (2): No. 12 Utah, No. 22 Oregon


Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner

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