2011-12 Year in Review
By Pac-12 Conference staff
Built on a firm foundation of academic excellence and superior athletic performance, the Conference ushered in a new era on July 1, 2011, officially becoming the Pac-12 Conference with the additions of the University of Colorado and University of Utah.
Just 27 days after the Conference officially changed its named, Commissioner Larry Scott announced the creation of the Pac-12 Networks on July 27, 2011, solidifying a landmark television deal and putting the Conference on the forefront. The Networks, including one national network and six regional networks, in conjunction with four of the nation's largest cable operators, marked the first time a U.S. collegiate conference or any other programmer has launched a collection of networks across a variety of platforms, rather than a sole network. In addition, the "TV everywhere" rights will allow fans to access coverage outside the home on any digital device, including smartphones and tablet computers.
On the field, the Pac-12 rises above the rest, upholding its tradition as the "Conference of Champions" ®, claiming an incredible 119 NCAA team titles since 1999-2000, including nine in 2011-12. That is an average of over nine championships per academic year. Even more impressive has been the breadth of the Pac-12's success, with championships coming in 28 different men's and women's sports. The Pac-12 has led or tied the nation in NCAA Championships in 46 of the last 52 years. The only exceptions being in 1980-81, 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1995-96 when the Conference finished second, and only twice finished third (1998-99 and 2004-05).
For the seventh consecutive year, the Pac-12 had the most NCAA titles or tied for the most of any conference in the country, winning at least six every year since 2000-01. No other conference has won double-digit NCAA crowns in a single year, the Pac-12 doing so six times, including a record 14 in 1996-97.
Spanning nearly a century of outstanding athletics achievements, the Pac-12 was the first conference to reach 400 championships in 2010-11. With the inclusion of Colorado and Utah, the Conference surpassed another major milestone, with league teams capturing 450 titles, outdistancing the next conference by nearly 200. In all, Conference teams have won 451 NCAA Championships (306 men's, 145 women's).
The Conference's reputation is further proven in the annual Learfield Sports Directors' Cup competition, the prestigious award that honors the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. STANFORD continued its remarkable run and won its unprecedented 18th-consecutive Directors' Cup in 2011-12. For the second-straight year, six of the top 25 Division I programs were Pac-12 member institutions: No. 1 STANFORD, No. 3 UCLA, No. 7 USC, No. 11 CALIFORNIA, No. 19 ARIZONA and No. 24 OREGON. With three teams in the top 10, it was the most of any conference.
The new era of the Pac-12 Conference and 2011-12 campaign kicked off with the Conference's first-ever Pac-12 Football Championship game, pitting OREGON for the North Division and UCLA from the South Division. The Ducks won the inaugural championship game, 49-31, in front of a sold-out stadium (59,376) in Eugene, Ore.
The Conference's nine national titles came in the form of five women's and four men's crowns. Six different league schools claimed NCAA titles and, of the five NCAA institutions to have won multiples titles, three were from the Pac-12.
CALIFORNIA, STANFORD and USC each won two NCAA Championships. The Golden Bears swept the men's and women's swimming and diving crowns for the second-consecutive year; the Cardinal raised the national championship trophy for the first time ever in women's soccer and added a second-consecutive crown in women's water polo; while the Trojans won their fourth-straight men's tennis and men's water polo crowns.
Arguably the best women's volleyball conference in the country, UCLA brought home the national title, the Pac-12's first in the sport in six years. OREGON also continued its remarkable streak in women's indoor track, winning a third-straight crown. And ARIZONA won its first baseball crown in over a quarter century as it claimed the Conference's ninth of the year.
In addition to the nine national championships, the Pac-12 also had runners-up in eight NCAA Championship events: women's volleyball (USC), cross country (WASHINGTON), men's water polo (UCLA), skiing (UTAH), women's tennis (UCLA), women's track & field (OREGON), men's volleyball (USC) and women's water polo (USC). Overall, the Conference had 39 teams finish in the top four at 25 NCAA Championship events.
Participation in the postseason was a common occurrence for the Pac-12 in 2011-12. Of the 22 sports sponsored by the Conference, 14 witnessed at least half its teams participating in NCAA or other postseason action. The men sent 53 of a possible 101 teams into the postseason (52.4 percent), while the women sent 67 of a possible 113 teams (59.3 percent).
The Conference experienced continued success in football as the league sent two teams to BCS Bowl games for the second-straight year. Overall, seven teams went to bowls games. OREGON claimed its 10th Pac-12 crown in the sport, winning the Conference's first-ever Football Championship Game, and claimed a spot in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, STANFORD (Totitos Fiesta Bowl), ARIZONA STATE (MAACO Las Vegas Bowl), CALIFORNIA (Holiday Bowl), WASHINGTON (Valero Alamo Bowl), UTAH (Hyundai Sun Bowl) and UCLA (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) also earned bowl bids. Oregon and Stanford were ranked in the top-5 of the Associated Press' poll at season's end, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Conference newcomer COLORADO won the Pac-12 Tournament men's basketball title and represented the league in the NCAA Tournament. Regular-season champion WASHINGTON and STANFORD headed to the NIT where the Cardinal put together an impressive run that resulted in the Pac-12's sixth-ever NIT title. The Huskies advanced to New York City, but fell in the semifinals. The Conference's 10-3 record in NIT play were the most wins ever by Pac-12 teams in the nation's oldest tournament. WASHINGTON STATE narrowly missed out on becoming the third Pac-12 team in four years to capture a postseason title in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), advancing to the championship series before falling, two games to one.
On the women's side, two teams competed in the NCAA Tournament and five others competed in the WNIT. STANFORD made its fifth-consecutive NCAA Women's Final Four appearance after winning its sixth-straight Pac-12 Tournament crown. CALIFORNIA made a return to the postseason after a two-year absence. With COLORADO and WASHINGTON advancing the furthest in the WNIT, Pac-12 teams went 12-4 in the postseason in games against non-Conference opponents.
The Conference has dominated the volleyball field, winning a record 14 NCAA titles in the sport since 1982. UCLA captured its first NCAA title since 1991, while USC advanced to the national semifinals for the second-straight year. Seven Pac-12 teams earned postseason bids, the 12th-consecutive year the Conference has sent at least six teams to the NCAA Tournament.
ARIZONA won the Conference's 27th all-time NCAA baseball championship in 2012, becoming only the second team in NCAA history to go 10-0 in postseason play. Five Pac-12 teams received NCAA Tournament bids, with UCLA joining the Wildcats at the NCAA College World Series. In addition, OREGON and STANFORD reached the Super Regionals, and OREGON STATE also represented the Conference in the postseason event.
Without question, the Conference has dominated the softball field, winning 23 national championships in the sport since 1982, most recently capturing six in a row from 2006-11. Eight Pac-12 teams earned NCAA Tournament bids in 2012, including the No. 1-overall seed CALIFORNIA. The eight postseason teams were the most for the Conference since 2007. Cal, ARIZONA STATE and OREGON punched their tickets to the NCAA Women's College World Series, the ninth time the Conference had sent three teams to the WCWS.
The Pac-12 swept two men's and women's sports, capturing national championships in swimming & diving, and water polo. CALIFORNIA took home both swimming & diving crowns for the second-straight year. In water polo, USC was the top men's team for the fourth year in a row, while the STANFORD women repeated as national champions.
Pac-12 members have won 306 NCAA team championships on the men's side, 89 more than the next closest conference. Men's NCAA crowns have come at a phenomenal rate for the Pac-12 - 16 basketball titles by six schools (more than any other conference), 53 tennis titles, 45 outdoor track & field crowns, and 27 baseball titles. Pac-12 members have won 25 of 43 NCAA titles in volleyball, 38 of 42 in water polo, 27 in skiing, and 23 in swimming & diving national championships.
Individually, the Conference has produced an impressive number of NCAA men's individual champions, as well, boasting 2,073 individual crowns.
On the women's side, the story is much the same. Since the NCAA began conducting women's championships 31 years ago, Pac-12 members have claimed at least four national titles in a single season on 22 occasions, including the last 12-consecutive years. Overall, the Pac-12 has captured 145 NCAA women's titles, easily outdistancing the SEC, which is second, with 88. Pac-12 members have dominated a number of sports, winning 23 softball titles, 19 tennis crowns, 14 volleyball titles, 14 of the last 23 trophies in golf, and 13 in swimming & diving.
Pac-12 women student-athletes shine nationally on an individual basis, as well, having captured an unmatched 642 NCAA individual crowns, an average of nearly 21 championships per season.