Independence talk heats up, not just for USC, but Oregon

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC isn’t the only one floating the idea of independence from the Pac-12, so is Oregon. It’s good for the conference if powerhouses start talking tough.

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February ended with USC athletic director Mike Bohn making waves regarding the Trojans and the possibility of leaving the Pac-12.

Bohn was accused by some of threatening the Pac-12 with his statement to Ryan Abraham of that “everything is on the table.”

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He promptly clarified his comments to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, though he didn’t entirely retract.

“The answer is no,” Bohn said, but he later added: “That being said, if the unexpected happened and NBC said, ‘Hey we want to partner you guys with Notre Dame’ … then that’s different.'”

That sure is different and pointed. As USC’s athletic director, it’s up to Bohn to put the Trojans in the strongest position possible. There are many ways to do that. One of them is to put pressure on the Pac-12 to strengthen…or lose its biggest cash cow.

John Canzano of The Oregonian took notice of Bohn’s statements and penned a piece discussing the possibility of independence, not for USC, but Oregon:

"I love what Bohn did there. He’s sitting on one of the conference’s long-standing, valuable brands, and decided to exert some old-fashioned leverage. It was candid and authentic. Also, his comments were a clear deviation from the unified messaging that Scott forced on conference members 15 months earlier after he hired a high-priced crisis-management firm…If he hasn’t already, University of Oregon President Michael Schill may look around and wonder why the Ducks are stuck in a sad-sack conference led by a commissioner who operates with his own self interests."

Oregon’s bosses haven’t themselves brought up the idea of the Ducks taking their talents elsewhere. They aren’t explicitly throwing around their weight like one of the premier brands in the conference. Yet. But they could. And they probably should. Just like USC.

Canzano hit the nail on the head in a statement that just as easily applies to USC: “This isn’t about UO leaving the Pac-12. It’s about Oregon being eyes-wide-open and increasing its leverage within the conference.”

USC needs to hope Oregon officials like Schill, athletic director Rob Mullens and mega-booster Phil Knight take note of Canzano’s words because the Trojans will need a partner if they want to push the conference to make the right decisions and changes.

Bohn and the Trojans have power, but going it alone isn’t the only option for wielding it. By standing up for themselves, they could inspire others to make their own stands, ones which will ultimately strengthen the conference across the board.

Remember, that’s how the California schools managed to keep their traditional rivalries intact when the Pac-12 was formed. There is strength in numbers.

The important note for USC is being the school at the front of the line and setting the agenda, not following the lead of their competitors.

Let Oregon act like one of the big boys, but USC should always act bigger.

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