|SI.com Conference Power Index: Pac-10|
The Conference Power Index (CPI) is a compilation of each conference's rank (six points for first place, five points for second place, etc.) in the following categories: AP poll rankings, BCS record, other bowls record, nonconference RPI and NFL draft picks. AP poll and BCS record were weighted doubly. This study examined two five-year periods: 1) The 1998 season through the 2003 NFL draft; 2) The '03 season through the '08 NFL draft.
USC's dominance bolsters conference
No conference has done more to test itself against the rest of the country, finishing first in nonconference RPI ratings during both five-year time periods. There's no question, however, that the Pac-10 has grown stronger over the past five years, jumping from fourth to second in our power index. The league placed 32 percent of its teams in the final AP poll -- up from just 24 percent from 1998-02 -- and improved its bowl record from an atrocious 9-18 to 17-11.
The emergence of USC as a national power is the unquestioned impetus behind the league's improvement. The Trojans have gone 58-6 over the past five seasons (including 4-1 in BCS games), won two national championships and produced 35 draft picks, up from 20 the preceding five years. The league has also benefited from the improvement of Cal (five straight bowl trips), Oregon State (four straight bowl wins) and Arizona State (11-1 in nonconference games).