For most Cal football fans, this is pretty good news. For too long the Pac-10 brethren have suffered from a lack of leadership. Despite the recent resurgence of USC as a national power, the reputation of the Pac-10 has fallen considerably, with regard to football. Continually, Pac-10 teams have been hurt by the BCS despite worthy resumes (e.g. Oregon in 2001 and Cal in 2004). What those teams were left with was a bowl game beneath their stature. In most years that means a trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl.
A great deal of this drop in prestige, in my view, is the result of poor national coverage. ESPN covers and reports on the games they put on the air. That means teams in the Big East and ACC usually get more coverage than they deserve. And, while the network plays lip service to the Pac-10, it undeniably hurts the conference when games on that network have been so few and far between up until very recently. Also, not having a second team play on New Year’s Day affects national perception of the quality of play out West. Although the Holiday Bowl does have the advantage of playing in prime time without any other competitor, not having the game on New Year’s day has led many to believe the conference fails to get the publicity it deserves for its solid bowl game track record.
26 years is a long time to hold any position, particularly a leadership position. Hansen likely did much greater work than I am giving him credit for, but I think every agrees – even Hansen – that is has been time to go.