Larry Scott can add another feather to his cap after tonight's inaugural Pac-12 Championship between the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins. Earlier this year, the conference commissioner announced that the annual championship game would be held in the home stadium of the first place team instead of a neutral site like nearly all of the college football's other FBS conferences. That move has likely saved the Pac-12 from an embarrassingly empty first championship and instead will at least give viewers a glimpse at an electric environment, whether any UCLA fans show up or not.
The Bruins limp into tonight's game off of one of the program's most embarrassing losses in it's storied history. The 50-0 loss to the USC Trojans was the final nail in the coffin of embattled head coach Rick Neuheisel. After being fired earlier this week, Neuheisel will coach his final game with the team tonight. The university applied for, and was granted, a waiver to play in a bowl game despite a 6-7 record with a loss tonight, but the school elected to have an interim coach lead the Bruins.
The Ducks are expected to roll, they are 31 point favorites, and lock up a berth in the Rose Bowl. After falling to USC 38-35 in Eugene, Oregon had no problem getting back on track against in-state rival Oregon State, winning easily 49-21. No one is really giving UCLA much of a shot, but perhaps playing in Coach Neuheisel's last game can motivate the Bruins to at least keep it close.
Larry Scott is most likely torn between wanting a competitive game and having the reputation of his conference's bread winner tarnished by stuggling at home against a .500 team. But even if UCLA loses, hey, at least Neuheisel got carried off the field in his last week of coaching in Southern California.
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