Thursday, August 10, 2023

Is the Pac-12 Dead?

The news broke last Friday: the University of Oregon and the University of Washington are moving to the Big Ten conference next year. This follows Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado going to the Big 12. And is all started last year with USC and UCLA announcing they were going to the Big Ten. That leaves four schools in the Pac-12: California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.

Frankly, I blame USC and UCLA. When they announced that they were leaving the Pac-12, that took the Los Angeles television market away from the Pac-12. So when the Pac-12 went to negotiate media rights, they no longer had the LA market to offer. Fox and ESPN both declined to make offers. The Pac-12 ended up going with Apple TV streaming service which wouldn't pay as much as a Fox or ESPN media deal would. It was shortly after that that Oregon and Washington announced they were leaving.

People are saying it's about the all mighty dollar. And it is. The schools need money and lots of it. They have to pay coaches (who are paid a lot), pay for uniforms, travel, and in the University of Washington's case, keep paying for that beautiful, new stadium they built in 2012 and 2013.

How do I feel about this? It makes me sad. If the Pac-12 even survives, it'll likely no longer be a Power 5 conference. There are rumors it might merge with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Or it might merge with the Mountain West Conference. Who knows?

But also, that my beloved University of Washington Huskies will go from being a big fish is a medium-sized pond to being a smaller fish is a larger pond. There will be 18 teams in the Big Ten spread out all over the country. And what will happen to the Apple Cup cross-state rivalry game between UW and WSU? Will that become a late-season non-conference game? And what of the Border War game against hated Oregon? These are all questions that need to be answered.

Washington was a founding member of the conference that became the Pac-12. It was part of that conference for 109 years. I don't think this decision was made lightly.

Someone proposed a Big Ten West and Big Ten East. That might work to get Oregon and Washington to play more often. 

Washington has a good chance of being the Pac-12 champion this year. But it'll be very hard to top 17 other schools, including Ohio, to be the Big Ten champion. 

No matter what happens, it'll be interesting to watch. It might not be as fun, but it'll be interesting.

What do you think will happen to the Pac-12? Will it merge with another conference or just go away? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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