Ivan Maisel argues on ESPN.com that the Pac-10 is now superior then the Big Ten. Maisel's article is often contradictory, and consequently serves to obscure legitimate points. It leaves the reader wonder what he was trying to do besides bash the Big Ten.
When it comes to 2007, Maisel is right. The Pac-10 is better. Not only better then the Big Ten, but they are going to be better then a lot of people. USC has the best team of the Carroll era. I expect UCLA to be in the Top 5. Arizona and Oregon State are both capable of being Top 10 teams. And that doesn't include Cal, who still remains a trendy preseason pick to topple the Trojans, with Nate Longshore at quarterback. Maisel is on the money here.
But when it comes to the bigger picture, the ESPN.com columnist flits and ducks like Reggie Bush in the hole, and his arguments are just as hard to pin down. On the one hand, he acknowledges the core argument against the Pac-10 is that it's a one-team league. On the other hand, he casually throws out the Pac-10's victory over the Big Ten the last three times they've met in Pasadena (hint Ivan: you have to go back to 2000 to the find the last non-USC team to do it. That doesn't repudiate the one-team league critique).
Maisel goes on to cite that the Pac-10 plays a complete round-robin schedule. I agree this is commendable. I also fail to see where it's relevant to the subject at hand. He then fails to note that in 2004-05, America was subjected to endless sob stories about the Pac-10 runner-up being denied a BCS bid (Cal and Oregon respectively). Then he might have had to mention that both teams went to the Holiday Bowl instead and were promptly waxed. In both cases, those were the league runner-ups. More evidence for the one-team league theory.
The Pac-10 is on the upswing this year and going to have a big year top to bottom. But let's not pretend that the success of the recent past is anything more then USC carrying a pack of mediocrities. Over the long haul, the Big Ten is still rivaled only by the SEC, and the Pac-10 beats out only the Big East.