The details were determined long beforehand, the changes essential in an extraordinary season, but that didn’t make a lost Pac-12 title sting any less. USC had played more games. It won more conference games.
It beat Oregon at home by 14 points in the teams’ only meeting, a game the conference insisted be played on four days’ notice. And still, the Trojans lost the Pac-12 to the Ducks, whose winning percentage was marginally better.
Resentment was still simmering when NCAA tournament fate first matched the fiery conference foes together again in the Sweet 16.