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Vilardo: Ranking the 2020-21 Pac-12 Athletic Departments

Posted on June 28, 2021

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

Have you ever wondered “Which Pac-12 athletic department had the best year?” I will attempt to answer that for you with a composite statistical model.

SERCstats logoMy company, SERC, has quantified the numbers for several conferences for some time now, and I will take a closer look at the numbers for the Pac-12 during the 2020-21 athletic season.

This past year was a unique one, for sure, and we had to get a bit creative with how things were done.  We saw unbalanced schedules, games cancelled and, in some instances, entire seasons wiped out. Some schools decided to shut down some sports all together this year.

But in the end, it was a very successful year for the Pac-12 as a whole.

Nine Pac-12 teams earned national championships in 2021:

  • Stanford in Women’s Basketball and Men’s Gymnastics
  • USC in Beach Volleyball, Women’s Water Polo and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field
  • Oregon in Men’s Indoor Track & Field
  • UCLA in Men’s Water Polo
  • Utah in Skiing
  • Washington in Men’s Rowing

Individually the conference produced multiple national champions.

To get into how this works, we took the average regular-season Pac-12 finish in the Pac-12 sports each school competes in and ranked them 1-12 in that order. For the 24 Pac-12, sports standings were used for baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, beach volleyball, softball and volleyball.

The postseason Pac-12 championships were used for cross country, golf, rowing, swimming, track, wrestling and gymnastics.

In football the winner of the championship game (Oregon) was ranked first followed by the Win/Loss records, regardless of division (USC 2, Washington & Colorado tied at 3 and so on).

We did not consider the standings of sports that are not Pac-12 sponsored—for example, water polo, and indoor track, among others. Those are included in the highlights for the year, however.

Below you’ll find tables for the Full Multi-sports Standings and the Program’s Rank for Each Sport, followed by a section on each school with a Total Sports count, the Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports, the number of 2020-21 Pac-12 Championships, the school’s Average Finish, and the number of Pac-12 Titles Won.

I am sure I have left out many of accomplishments in the “Selected Highlights” section, having chosen (for the sake of conciseness) only those I perceived as being the most relevant and outstanding.

Full Multi-Sport Conference Standings

RankSchoolPac-12 SportsAvg. Finish

Program Rank in Each Sport
(Sport Code Legend below)

*Arizona State would normally have 21 but cancelled both Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving seasons.

Sport Code Legend

MBBMen's Basketball
WBBWomen's Basketball
MCCMen's Cross Country
WCCWomen's Cross Country
MT&FMen's Track & Field
WT&FWomen's Track & Field
MGMen's Golf
WGWomen's Golf
MRMen's Rowing
WRWomen's Rowing
MSMen's Soccer
WSWomen's Soccer
MS&DMen's Swimming & Diving
WS&DWomen's Swimming. & Diving
MTMen's Tennis
WTWomen's Tennis
WGymWomen's Gymnastics
WLWomen's Lacrosse
WBVWomen's Beach Volleyball
DNPDoes not play sport
1. Stanford Cardinal
2021 Pac-12 Champion Stanford Women’s Basketball team | Bryan Steffy/Pac-12 Conference

Total Sports: 37
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 24
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships:
Average Finish: 3.58

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Women’s Basketball, Men’s Cross Country, Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Soccer, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Lacrosse

—Selected Highlights—

• Perhaps the best highlight of the year came away from the field of play when the department announced a reversal on their prior decision to cut 11 programs from the department.

• On the field the Cardinal enjoyed a great bit of success. Stanford won the NCAA title in women’s basketball this season posting a 21-2 record on the season topping conference rival Arizona by a point. The Cardinal were led by All-American Kiana Williams.

• Stanford also repeated as National Champions in men’s gymnastics, the Cardinal were able to reverse the results of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship meet in which they were edged by Oklahoma by 1.2 points, in the NCAA finals Stanford finished almost three points better than the Sooners.

• Those championships give Stanford 52 NCAA team titles since 2000 and the 128 for the athletic department all-time.

Shane Griffith picked up an individual NCAA title on the wrestling mat. Entering as the eighth seed he defeated three top-5 opponents on his march to the title at 165 pounds. Griffith joined Jaden Abas as All-Americans helping the Cardinal to a 17th place finish at the NCAA Championships. Abas became the eighth freshmen in Stanford history to win a Pac-12 title, doing so at 149.

Stanford was the only program at the NCAA Cross Country Championships to earn top-five men’s and women’s team finishes, with the women coming home in third and the men taking fifth.

On the baseball diamond this spring the Card have advanced to the College World Series in Omaha.

Stanford’s women’s rowing team finished second in the NCAA Championships. New US Olympian Brooke Forde was an individual national champion for the Cardinal in the pool.

usc logo
2. USC Trojans
USC women’s track team | John McGillen/USC Athletics

Total Sports: 21
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 18
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 3
Average Finish: 3.72

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Women’s Golf, Women’s Track & Field, Women’s Beach Volleyball

—Selected Highlights—

• USC women claimed national titles in outdoor track and field, beach volleyball and water polo this season.

Anna Cockrell became just the second woman athlete to win both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles in the same season at the NCAA Championships meet on her way to winning the 2021 Honda sport award for Track & Field.

• The team title on the track was the third in program history.

• The Trojans claimed their fourth women’s beach volleyball national championship this season with a 3-1 victory over UCLA, in a reversal of the Pac-12 Tournament title game in which the Bruins earned the 3-2 win. The Trojans were led on the season by All-Americans Tina Graudina and Sammy Slater.

• En route to the title in the pool, the Trojans water polo team made history winning their seventh national title in spectacular fashion over UCLA 18-9.

• The 18 goals scored by USC and the nine-goal margin were both the most ever in an NCAA women’s water polo championship game.  The championship avenged the Trojans lone loss in a 22-1 campaign, with the lone loss a regular season Bruins win.

• On the men’s side the water polo team came up a goal short in the NCAA title game, falling to UCLA 7-6.

• The men’s basketball team followed up a second place Pac-12 finish with a run to the Elite 8

3. Oregon Ducks
2020 Oregon football team | John McGillen/USC Athletics

Total Sports: 20
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 17
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 3
Average Finish: 3.94

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Men’s Basketball, Football, Men’s Track & Field

—Selected Highlights—

• Oregon’s men claimed the indoor track & field national championship in March. The Ducks racked up 79 points, the second-highest score in meet history and highest total since 1994. The title was the fourth indoor title for head coach Robert Johnson and his 14th overall championship.

• While the women finished 15th in the meet, they did have a record-breaking performance from Kemba Nelson as she broke the collegiate record in the 60 meters with a time of 7.05.

• The Ducks won 10 of their last 11 in the regular season to claim the men’s basketball Conference title on their way to a Sweet 16 run.

• In acrobatics & tumbling the Ducks made it to the NCATA semifinals where they suffered a defeat to eventual National Champion Baylor.

4. UCLA Bruins
2021 UCLA softball team | Pac-12 Conference

Total Sports: 26
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 20
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 3
Average Finish: 4.75

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Women’s Soccer, Women’s Tennis, Softball

—Selected Highlights—

• UCLA won their 12th men’s water polo National Championship this season with a 7-6 win in the title game over USC.  The Bruins were led in the pool by National Player of the Year Nicolas Saveljic and National Coach of the Year Adam Wright.

• The UCLA men’s basketball team had a dynamic run to the Final Four coming up a buzzer beater from a National Championship game.

• On the softball diamond the Bruins had an amazing 30-2 record at Eaton Stadium for the season which ended with a trip to the Women’s College World Series.

• On the tennis court UCLA’s women followed up their Pac-12 regular season title with a run to the NCAA quarterfinals.

5. Washington Huskies
Washington women’s volleyball team | Mark Kuhlmann/NCAA Photos

Total Sports: 22
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 20
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 3
Average Finish: 4.95

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Women’s Rowing, Men’s Rowing, Volleyball

—Selected Highlights—

• Washington swept the Pac-12 rowing titles this season and on the national stage the Huskies won their first men’s rowing National Championship since 2015 sweeping all four boat classes along the way.

• The women’s rowing team claimed a pair of National Championships with their second varsity eight and varsity four boats, but the team settled for third overall, their sixth consecutive top-5 finish nationally.

• Washington followed up their Pac-12 volleyball title with a run to the Final Four where the fell to eventual National Champion Kentucky 3-1.

• Both Washington Cross Country teams qualified for the NCAA meet with the women claiming 13th and the men finishing 25th.

6. Arizona State Sun Devils
2021 ASU Pac-12 championship wrestling team |

Total Sports: 25
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 19
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 1
Average Finish: 5.42

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Wrestling

—Selected Highlights—

• The Sun Devils took home the Pac-12 wrestling title and followed it up with a very strong showing at the NCAA meet in St. Louis where ASU ended up fourth in the nation, their best showing since 1995.

Brandon Courtney had a second-place finish at 125 pounds. Courtney was one of five Arizona State wrestlers to earn All-American honors joining Michal McGee, Jacori Teemer, Anthony Valencia and Cohlton Schultz.

• The Sun Devils men’s golf team carried the number one seed into match play championships and advanced the semifinals.

7. Arizona Wildcats
2021 Arizona Pac-12 championship baseball team | Rebecca Sasnett/Arizona Daily Star

Total Sports: 15
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 13
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 2
Average Finish: 5.46

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Baseball, Men’s Golf

—Selected Highlights—

• The Wildcats women’s basketball team had a captivating run to the National Championship game falling by one to Pac-12 Champion Stanford.

• Following the run to the title game second team All-American Aari McDonald was selected third in the WNBA draft by Atlanta, becoming the highest player ever selected out of Arizona.

• Pac-12 Coach of the Year Jay Johnson led Arizona to their first outright Pac-12 championship on the baseball diamond since 1992. Daniel Susac was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and, along with Jacob Berry named a Freshman All-American.

• On the links the men’s golf team claimed the Pac-12 title by four strokes over ASU.  Brad Reeves led the way for the Wildcats earing Medalist honors with a 16-under performance for the tournament. It was Arizona’s first conference title since 2004 and Reeves was the first Wildcat to claim the individual crown since 2008.

Colorado Buffaloes
2021 Colorado Ski Team | Colorado Athletics

Total Sports: 17
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 13
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 0
Average Finish: 5.46

Won Pac-12 Titles in: None

—Selected Highlights—

• Colorado got a pair of Conference runner up performance from their cross country teams. The women followed up with a seventh-place finish in the national championship meet while the men were 14th.  Abby Nichols had a 15th place individual performance in the Championships.

• The Buffs took home second place in the nation in skiing behind Utah. Magnus Boee won two individual titles for Colorado, those two gave Colorado 100 all-time individual titles on the slopes.

Oregon State Beavers
2021 Pac-12 Tournament Championship team | Pac-12 Conference

Total Sports: 17
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 16
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 0
Average Finish: 6.19

Won Pac-12 Titles in: None

—Selected Highlights—

• In women’s cross country, Oregon State recorded their best ever finish at NCAA’s taking 16th. The Beavs were led by Kaylee Mitchell finishing in 20th individually. That performance by Mitchell was also the highest individual finish in program history. Mitchell was joined as an All-American by teammate Betya Beard.

• The men’s basketball Cinderella run through March began with winning the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas and continued to the Elite Eight in In Indianapolis. The magical run for the Beavers ended one game shy of their first Final Four appearance since 1963, but the Beavers did reach 20-wins for the season.

Wrestling gave the Beavers their best Pac-12 finish of the year with a second place showing at the conference tournament. Devan Turner at 133 and Grant Willits at 141, became the 27th and 28th Pac-12 individual champions in the program. It was the second conference title for both the seventh and eighth athletes in school history with multiple Pac-12 titles.

California Golden Bears
2021 Cal Men’s Swimming & Diving Team |

Total Sports: 30
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 23
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 2
Average Finish: 6.87

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Men’s Swimming & Diving, Women’s Swimming & Diving

—Selected Highlights—

• California claimed both Pac-12 swimming & diving titles this season. The men followed it up with a runner up finish at the NCAA meet. It was the 11th consecutive NCAA meet that the Cal men have finished in the top-two in the nation. Ryan Hoffer collected a pair of individual championships for the Bears.

• The women placed fourth at the NCAA meet, continuing a streak of top-five national finishes that began in 2006. The Bears were bolstered at the meet with a national title from the 200-free relay team.

• Cal won the regular season Men’s Pacific Sports Federation championship in men’s water polo.

Caleb Rickard earned All-American honors in gymnastics as he set a school record with a 14.666 on the vault.

Utah Utes
2021 Utah Women’s “Red Rocks” Gymnastics Team | Utah Athletics

Total Sports: 20
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 16
Pac-12 Championships 2020-21: 1
Average Finish: 7.44

Won Pac-12 Titles in: Women’s Gymnastics

—Selected Highlights—

• The Utes claimed the National Championship in skiing, their 14th in history and some redemption from the year before when the Utes held a lead at the mid-point of the championships only to see them cancelled due to COVID.

• It was the 28th team national championship in school history, and third national title for Utah skiing in the past four NCAA Championships completed, dating back to 2017. Sydney Palmer-Leger won two individual crowns this year to lead the way for Utah.

• The Utes took home the Pac-12 crown in women’s gymnastics and ended up third in the national championship meet earning their best finish since 2015. Maile O’Keefe became a two-time National Champion with titles on the uneven bars and floor, she is just the fifth Ute to win at least two event victories in the same night at the national championships

Washington State Cougars
2021 Washington State Women’s Volleyball Team | WSU Athletics

Total Sports: 17
Number of Pac-12 Sponsored Sports: 15
2020-21 Pac-12 Championships: 0
Average Finish: 7.53

Won Pac-12 Titles in: None

—Selected Highlights—

• The Cougar’s best performance in the Pac-12 this year came from their volleyball team.  Washington State finished fourth in the conference and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.  The Cougars ultimately fell in their second-round matchup with Western Kentucky in five sets.

• WSU earned their 14th bid to the NCAA women’s rowing championships placing 15th.

Erin Mullins was an individual qualifier for the NCAA cross country championships.

• On the track, Stephanie Cho earned All-American honors in the 400-meter hurdles with the third fastest time in WSU history, 57.48, in the finals.

• In their all-sport rivalry with Washington the Cougars did earn their first Boeing Apple Cup, which began in 2018, by a score of 190-185.

Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenVilardo and his organization @SERCenter. Visit his website at

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