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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

March 6, 2014 at 11:36 AM

How about a little sanity on the size of these all-league teams?

The women’s basketball teams of the Pac-12 have invaded Seattle for another tournament at KeyArena, a site and city that should again be terrific for the event.

One small item as you tip it off Thursday: Do something about that format for the all-conference team. It’s absurd.

The league office this week revealed the Pac-12 women’s all-conference team. It has more women on it than the choir at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York – 15.

Fifteen? That’s a quarter of the starters in the conference.

It’s a shameless grab for more attention, not unlike what they do on the men’s side in the league – the coaches choose a 10-man first team and a five-man second team. What sense, exactly, does that make? (This was before the league, at mid-week, rolled out another all-league women’s team, picked by a media panel. Coming soon: A team chosen by the league’s PA announcers and statisticians.)

Personally, if I’m referencing a women’s player who made the all-league team, I’m going to be less likely to write it – or at the very least, to note that she made a 15-member team. It’s simply taking liberties with perspective to say she “was all-league.”

This isn’t solely to pick on the women’s coaches, who no doubt engineered the form of the all-league team. It’s to point out that all-league teams have strange numbers all over, most defying common sense.

For instance, the SEC, both men and women, pick eight-man first- and second-teams. Not a lot of sense there, unless you reason that many actual teams have roughly eight-man rotations.

The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 all have it over the Pac-12 on the men’s side. Each of them names a first, second and third team consisting of five members each.

To me, that’s the sane way to do it. You honor those who most deserve it, you define the degrees of excellence, and you still give recognition to 15 players – without handing out juice boxes and animal crackers.

Oddly, the ACC and Big 12 women have the 10-and-5 format, unlike their men. Why would the men’s and women’s teams have different numbers within one league?

Some background on the Pac-12 men’s format: Way back, the all-league team was always a simple five-man unit, until, in 1978, the coaches went to first- and second-teams, five each. And that’s what they did the next year (although they couldn’t limit it to just five; they had six on each unit – sigh).

Everything changed in 1980. They opted for the let’s-make-everyone-feel-better approach and adopted a 10-man unit. At the paper I used to work for, the Eugene Register-Guard, we were so affronted that we organized a protest, media-generated all-league team, sending out ballots to newspaper and broadcast members up and down the West Coast and tabulating results.

It had five members on it, thank you.

That concept died several years later, but the official league 10-man team persisted. For reasons unknown, they finally went to the three-five-man-teams form for a solitary season, the golden year of 2008, but the next year, turned to the silly, 10-and-5 format that exists now.

For what it’s worth, I’ll have my own Pac-12 all-league picks in a few days, three five-man teams – the way it should be.

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