The Pac-12’s Final Act
College football realignment has taken away a lot. Once-fierce rivalries are no more, and conferences built upon regionality are a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, this round of realignment has taken things a step further. This round has resulted in the death of an entire conference.
Once USC and UCLA announced they were leaving for the Big Ten, we knew the Pac-12 was on thin ice. But it seemed, briefly, that they were going to manage to stay together. So long as the league could land a half-decent media rights deal, they could then look for solid expansion opportunities and, at the very least, tread water.
But that deal didn’t come. And eventually, league members got tired of waiting around. The Big 12 made it known they were “open for business”, and business was done. Colorado was the first domino to fall, returning to the league they were a founding member of.
The Big Ten then made the move many assumed was inevitable, adding Oregon and Washington. With every traditional power in the conference gone, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah joined Colorado to fill out the Big 12’s “Four Corners” wing.
As of now, the Pac-12 will have just four programs in 2024: Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State. At this point, the league may very well cease to exist by then.
Even it’s still around by backfilling with several G5 teams, the Pac-12’s time as being a part of major college football is over. And that’s a shame.
The Pac-12 has often been the butt of the joke for CFB fans. The teams are seen as soft and incapable of truly competing at the highest level. The fanbases are constantly mocked for a lack of passion. And the overall incompetence of the league’s administrators does nothing to help their cause.
But the fact is there’s good football on the West Coast. There are good players, good teams, and yes, good fanbases. And though those programs will still be around going forward, it’s not going to be the same without them all regularly competing against each other.
I feel especially bad for Oregon State and Wazzu. They’ve effectively found themselves kicked out of power conference football simply for not being national brands, despite having fanbases that deeply care about football and making strides to improve their programs. It’s a travesty.
So cherish the Pac-12 for the last little bit that we have it. This league will be incredible to watch in it’s final year. USC has the reigning Heisman winner. Bo Nix and Michael Penix have revitalized their careers at Oregon and Washington, respectively. Oregon State and UCLA will run all over you. Wazzu and Arizona will be super fun on offense.
And we can’t forgot the 2-time reigning champs in Utah, who’ll pulverize anyone that gets in their way.
The Pac-12 is awesome, and its final act will be must-see TV. So watch the crap out of Pac-12 After Dark this year.
Oh wait. Did I forget to mention someone…