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Who’s to blame for the Pac-12’s demise?

My goodness, that’s Larry Scott’s music!

NCAA Football: Oregon at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Traditionally, June is a very quiet month for college sports unless you’re in the College World Series. But the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans did away with tradition in a big way when the two schools announced this week that they’d be heading to the Big Ten. Suddenly, the Pac-12 is back to being the Pac-10.

Needless to say, this news is not good for our beloved Washington State Cougars and the nine other schools who are wondering just what the hell is going on. The Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies are the two names floated as the followers to USC’s and UCLA’s bolting. We’ll see where that goes, if anywhere.

Without USC and UCLA, how attractive is the conference to its potential TV partners? This is terrible timing with negotiations coming up.

As for our Cougs? They’re stuck. Their media market isn’t attractive, their brand is known only by its logo across the country, and it’s not a football rich school.

Naturally, we’re doing a lot of soul searching, and part of that is figuring who or what is to blame. So I came up with another arbitrary list.

Larry Scott


His attempt to poach some Big 12 teams more than a decade ago didn’t pan out, and his business strategy when it came to securing media rights and developing the conference’s TV network set the Pac-12 back miles and miles from its competitors. Throw in his lavish spending on himself and his headquarters and his treatment of his members and you start to figure out why he only won exactly one singles tennis match in his brief pro tennis career.

Whoever gave Reggie Bush’s family a house

It’s funny to think back at how this was such a scandal, considering the rule changes in place today. But once Bush’s family benefits got USC in trouble, Pete Carroll bolted and USC sputtered. It’s been a decade-and-a-half and USC still hasn’t been back to what it was during the dynasty years. The Pac-12’s biggest brand not being a Big Brand hurt the Pac-12 big time, which has a ripple effect on TV revenues, national attention, recruiting, etc.


The NCAA was slow to wrap its arms around NIL rules that could have helped the Pac-12’s big brands became nationally relevant. Much like “William Shakespeare” is generally a decent guess on Jeopardy questions, the NCAA is generally a good scapegoat for just about anything that plagues college sports.

George Kliavkoff

Happy one year on the job, Mr. Commish. This probably isn’t what George signed up for, but he should have been doing all he could to keep his members united. Maybe that’s impossible—we’re dealing with college presidents, after all, and they often look out for themselves first, second and third. Not all, of course, but many. But get this:


And also this:

Oops again.

The culture of college football

Football is obviously huge in the south and parts of Big Ten country. On the west coast? California sure churns out lots of players, but lately, many of them have been heading east. Look at the crowds at games on the west coast and put them next to crowds from the SEC and some Big 12 schools. Who from the Pac-12 can compete with that? Maybe Oregon, at least inside its stadium?

You think state legislators are naming desolate highway stretches after Mario Cristobal?

Until football is king on the west coast, these kinds of things will keep happening.


Washington State athletics bracing for ripple effect caused by UCLA, USC joining Big Ten | The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN – Beginning in 2024, Washington State’s conference opponents won’t include Southern Cal and UCLA. But that’s the least of the Cougars’ concerns regarding Thursday’s stunning news.

Commentary: Stark decisions in USC-UCLA fallout — leave Pac-12 or be content in declining conference | The Spokesman-Review
SEATTLE – No one can tell you with utter confidence what Thursday’s bombshell news that USC and UCLA are fleeing the Pac-12 means for the conference.

Analysis: Survival scenarios for Pac-12 schools in a world without USC and UCLA | The Spokesman-Review
The conference has options; none of them are good.

The USC-UCLA move intensifies college football's SEC-Big Ten battle
USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12, and that means we are soon entering the era of two superconferences, as the SEC and Big Ten prepare to do battle.

USC, UCLA to the Big Ten - What's next for the Pac-12, how it impacts the CFP and more
What does USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten mean for the Pac-12? What does it mean for the College Football Playoff? Answering that and all the biggest questions surrounding the move.

USC and UCLA to Big Ten: What's next for Pac-12, Notre Dame, ACC, Big 12 with realignment just getting started -
It's now 'anything goes' in the world of major-college sports with teams and conferences facing uncertain futures.

Pac-12 exploring expansion options as Big Ten informs Oregon, Washington it's standing pat for now -
The Pac-12 will have to figure out how to stay afloat in a new landscape without USC and UCLA.

College Football 2.0: Who gets left behind as realignment, new leadership, player empowerment reshape game? -
The future of college football is up for grabs, and plenty remains unanswered.

As USC and UCLA to the Big Ten again proves, college football is no longer the sport we once knew -
Changes to the sport are coming more rapidly -- and more drastically -- than most expected.

Commentary: Key to ensuring Washington State's viability would be for lawmakers to keep UW, WSU aligned | The Spokesman-Review
The best thing WSU can do right now is what all of us should spend more time doing: Call the legislators. WSU needs its lobbyists to put political pressure on its representatives and the Governor to make it clear to the UW’s Governor-appointed Board of Regents that the state’s two publicly-funded institutions have a responsibility to each other, and that UW’s cozy relationship with Olympia depends on it taking care of its less-resourced partner to the east.