Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and his coffee-addled band of football coaches made their final whistle stop in Los Angeles on Friday after an exhaustive East Coast publicity tour that included everything but a round-table sit-down with Charlie Rose.
The conference has become so Eastern centric of late two Pac-12 coaches appeared to have picked up Brooklyn accents.
Scott had been on the road for two weeks and was looking forward to finally getting back home to the Bay Area.
It used to be every Pac season started with media day next to the Pacific Ocean, but that was before ESPN started signing over billion-dollar checks to a conference it used to tip like a busboy.
Whatever Pac-12 marketing is doing has resonated at ESPN headquarters in Connecticut.
"I can report that Bristol is looking west this season," Scott, entering his fifth season in charge, said.
Don't expect this to mean GameDay is ready to make a trip to Pullman, Wash.
The downside to being last-stop leftovers in L.A. was there really wasn't any fresh news left to report after the coaches dragged their carcasses into a soundstage at Sony Studios in Culver City.
Washington State Coach Mike Leach is writing a book on Geronimo.
"Researching is the most exciting part," he said.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin reaffirmed a previously reported story that he was going to call plays again this season.
There was also an unconfirmed rumor Oregon State Coach Mike Riley might be coming out with a book of chili recipes.
Scott actually saved the worst for last in reporting the Pac-12 Network's seemingly intractable impasse with DirecTV would probably extend through a second season.
The conference, in so many ways, has burst into the national consciousness under Scott's vision and leadership.
The gush of broadcast money coming into company coffers has allowed the league to seriously upgrade its portfolio.
A train stop like Washington State is suddenly paying competitive dollars to a coach like Leach.
The league's star power may now be second only to the Southeastern Conference.
Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) and Todd Graham (Arizona State) arrived last and appear to have those programs on fast tracks.
No league in America is doing more interesting things, schematically, on a football field.
The three new coaches joining the league this year all offer intriguing possibilities.
Sonny Dykes replaces Jeff Tedford at California and hopes to bring the kind of high-octane offense he infused at Louisiana Tech.
Dykes' team led the nation in offense last year and was more up-tempo than Oregon's.
He wonders what he can do now at a place where he can recruit even better athletes.
"I asked the question," Dykes said at a lunch table between soundstages, "where could we get the offense if we can recruit on a national level?"
No one expects Oregon to miss a clock tick, either, with longtime assistant Mark Helfrich replacing Chip Kelly in Eugene.
With the exception of getting Oregon in more trouble with the NCAA, Helfrich said, "We're going to continue what we've done."
The pundits are so worried about Oregon without Kelly they picked the Ducks to win the Pac-12 title.
The only question regarding Oregon is whether Helfrich can replace Kelly's swagger and gamesmanship.
Even lowly Colorado, with its inspired hiring of Mike MacIntyre, has reason to renew season tickets.
MacIntyre arrives in Boulder after a miraculous turnaround at San Jose State.
"The future is bright no matter what you hear out there," MacIntyre said.
Here's the real story, though, about Pac-12 football.
It doesn't matter how many times you visit ESPN studios in the east or rent out movie studios in the west.
Marketing only gets you so far.
At some point, you have to perform. The SEC needs minimal marketing because it has won seven straight Bowl Championship Series titles.
Scott has thrown up a lot of sizzle but has yet to produce a BCS title champion.
The Pac-12 needs to step up, when it counts. The only BCS title the conference has won — USC in 2004 — was vacated.
Oregon came close to beating Auburn in the BCS title game but, in the end, didn't.
Stanford lost two games last year, one by four points and the other in overtime.
What separates the SEC from the Pac-12, other than massive defensive linemen, is the ability to close out deals.
The Pac-12 has made as much national news for its collapses, none worse than USC's dive last year from preseason No.1 to that ugly loss in the Sun Bowl.
UCLA broke through the drudgery cycle last year with a 9-2 start, only to lose its last three games capped by a pitiful Holiday Bowl defeat to Baylor.
Party noisemakers are nice, but nothing will speak louder than defeating an SEC team this year for the crystal trophy.
Until that day the SEC is still all grits and the Pac-12 is still all glitz.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times