Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Today we consider love and hate across college football. There's plenty of both.
As for the Pac-10, there's a lot more love, so that's where we start.
1. Big city football: Pac-10 trips include San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and Phoenix. That means things to do, people to see and places to eat and drink. Despite all that, you still find a great college atmosphere around the individual schools. And if you need a dose of "college town," welcome to Pullman, Eugene and Corvallis.
2. The national obsession with USC: UCLA fans hate USC. And the rest of the Pac-10 doesn't exactly love the Trojans, either. But there is this: Only Pac-10 teams beat USC. The Trojans have lost one nonconference game -- to Texas in the national title game after the 2005 season -- since Sept. 28, 2002. Deep down in places college football fans from other conferences don't talk about at parties -- you know, where they give honest assessments -- USC remains the nation's premier program. And that really, really bothers folks from other conferences.
3. Scenic stadiums: Sure, Washington went 0-12 last year, but is any scene better in college football than a sunny fall day in Seattle with glimmering Lake Washington and snowcapped mountains surrounding Husky Stadium? Perhaps it's better over in Berkeley inside Strawberry Canyon. Or, ahem, at the Rose Bowl as the sun sets behind the San Gabriel Mountains.
4. Offense: Sure, quarterback play dropped off in 2008, but the Pac-10 remains the conference of quarterbacks (see NFL rosters) and sophisticated offensive schemes -- whether that's the pro-style offense of USC or the spread-option of Oregon or Arizona's straight spread. Three yards and a cloud of dust? And a yawn. Not in the Pac-10.
5. Open programs; open coaches: With Steve Sarkisian replacing Tyrone Willingham at Washington, the Pac-10 now is the most open conference in terms of media and fan access in the nation. And, quick, who's the conference's grumpiest coach? When's the last time you saw a Pac-10 coach go ballistic over a fair question just to act like a bully? Let other conferences go into paranoid, lock-down mode -- closing practices and limiting player and coach access -- in the Pac-10 you're welcome any time.