Why Pacific’s move to the WCC is good news for the Tigers, Stockton- Pt 1

Disclaimer: In addition to being an urban planning nerd, I am also a sports nerd, so the occasional sports post will happen, though I will keep it Stockton-themed. When I first thought up this site, I knew at some point I wanted to dedicate at least one post to UOP’s athletic program. It was going to be titled “Why Pacific should move to the WCC.” Well, today, UOP must have read my mind as the university announced that it will indeed leave the Big West and make the jump to the West Coast Conference. There are several reasons why this is a good move for the school as well as the city: Athletically, the WCC is much more competitive in basketball, which is what Pacific is known for after their string of amazing runs in the mid 2000s. For the city, I will argue that the move to the WCC will bring more exposure to Stockton. I will break these down into two posts. Today, I will lay out why this is a good move for Pacific in terms of athletics…

1- the WCC is really good at basketball: As Pacific Athletic Director Ted Leland has said, men’s basketball is the department’s top priority, and this moves proves it. The West Coast Conference is ranked 9th in men’s NCAA college basketball RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), ahead of even the PAC 12. The Big West ranked 24th, so the quality of competition is clearly much higher in the WCC, even with ranked San Diego State joining the conference next year.

2- UOP could do well in the WCC: Even though the WCC is very good, the Tigers have held their own against WCC teams in out-of-conference play.  Here is a breakdown of how UOP has done against WCC opponents in the last five years.

WCC Team

Win

Loss

University of San Francisco

2

1

Pepperdine

3

2

Santa Clara

4

2

San Diego

1

1

Portland

1

0

Saint Mary’s

0

2

UOP has gone has gone 11 and 8 against WCC teams in the past 5 seasons (including post season play). Granted, none of these games were against Gonzaga or BYU and only two were against Saint Mary’s (teams considered to be the WCC’s best). There is still ample evidence that UOP would at the very least start out as a middle-of-the-pack team. In a conference that has had multiple NCAA bids in the past few years, I would say that is a step up from Pacific’s standing in the Big West, which has not sent two teams to the dance since the Tigers were given an at-large bid in 2005.

3- The WCC has more exposure than the Big West: As noted in the Record today, the WCC has a contract with ESPN that guarantees all schools at least 3 nationally televised games. Even in their heyday, Pacific would generally get just one nationally televised game a year, excluding tournament appearances.

4- Bay Area teams allow for geographic rivalries: In the Big West, the Tigers pretty much spent all of their time in Southern California with the bulk of the Big West teams located there. Outside of Fresno State, which left the conference some time ago, UOP did not have any real rivalries. With the move to the WCC, the Tigers have three schools within driving distance: Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara and the University of San Francisco. Once the Tigers become more competitive, fans can expect a strong rivalry with budding powerhouse Saint Mary’s in Moraga.

5- Better recruiting: Pacific can now use the prestige of the WCC to attract stronger talent to campus. In the past, Coach Bob Thomason has relied heavily on junior college transfers with mixed results. While there is no indication that this strategy will change with the conference move, it does open the door to recruiting higher-ranked players straight out of high school with the allure of playing in a top-ten conference with regular appearances on national television.

6- The WCC is also a good fit for other sports: Outside of men’s basketball, the WCC is also solid in the other sports that Pacific has. WCC women’s basketball ranks 8th nationally (Big West ranks 21st), another big step up in quality. Men’s and Women’s volleyball, historically strong for UOP, should also get a boost from the move.The WCC placed 5 team’s in the women’s volleyball RPI top 100 (Pacific was 92) while Pepperdine and BYU are currently ranked in the top 10 for men’s volleyball, though the Big West is arguably stronger overall. Baseball is a bit harder to justify as the Big West has established powerhouses Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State. The WCC, on the other hand, does not have the same tradition in baseball as the Big West. However, Pacific has never been known for baseball and is currently ranked 210th nationally. Perhaps more parody would be better for Ed Sprague’s squad.  Swimming and water polo will continue to play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF).

As you can see, this move makes sense on a lot of fronts for the Pacific athletic department. Hopefully this move will also energize the fan base (read: the students) which has been lackluster at best in recent years, and gives Coach Thomason some renewed enthusiasm, getting to coach on a brighter stage.

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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia created SCL in March of 2012. Garcia is a Stockton native with a background in urban policy and planning, holding a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA as well as a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. He currently serves as the Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. David was also COO at Ten Space, a real estate development firm focused exclusively on Downtown Stockton, and continues to advise on their projects. Prior to that, he worked three years as a researcher/analyst for a Congressional research agency in Washington, DC. The views expressed on this site are entirely of the author's

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Could Stockton host the WCC tournament? « Stockton City Limits - March 30, 2012

    […] my last post, I discussed how moving to the West Coast Conference (WCC) is a great move for UOP, particularly […]

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