The college football conference still officially known as the Pac-12 now has just nine teams for the 2024 season. In short order this week the Big 12 voted to accept an application from the University of Colorado, followed by the Colorado Board of Regents approving a move by the Buffaloes for the 2024-25 sports seasons.
Colorado joins USC and UCLA in exits after the 2023 season.
The action surprised no one who had followed the issue with an open mind. Though he could not stop it, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff could not have been surprised either. The signs were many over several weeks. The tipping point may have come from the recent Pac-12 league meetings when again, Kliavkoff could not announce a new media deal and could not offer any date when a new deal could be obtained.
It is impossible to know what the Pac-12 will do next. The 2024, Pac-9 held an emergency meeting on Thursday, no doubt trying to stem the tide of attrition. As evident from the tweet below, the immediate strategy appears to be an attempt to spin the defection into a positive.
Trading up will take some considerable wizardry from a conference that has not done anything well in a long time.
Heartland Sports covers Big 12 sports, so naturally, its perspective will not favor the Pac-12. Still, Heartland’s assessment of the Pac-12 is spot on.
"The Pac-12 Conference is in a dire situation. There is no TV deal in sight and they are about to lose one of their remaining 10 teams one year after two of their anchors, USC and UCLA, announced they would be heading to the Big Ten in 2024.There’s little to suggest the Pac-12 is in a position right now to simply replace Colorado with another school. Had those other schools been compelling enough to their potential TV partners, they would have added them long ago. It didn’t happen.As has been the case over the last few months, the Pac-12’s actions, or lack thereof, tell one story, and their words then cover up those inactions with another story. And round and round we go."
College Football and Conference Survival
The AP’s Ralph Russo voiced the most pertinent question. Can the Pac-12 survive? In recent weeks Utah’s AD has pledged resolve in sticking with the Pac-12. The University of Utah must now revisit that decision. If the Utes decide to make a business decision, a move to the Big 12 is what makes sense.
Then Kliavkoff may or may not be left with a tarnished Pac-8. He will not be able to polish away the tarnish, but two or more ‘lesser-brand’ college football programs could be added. Although there have been indications, some of the remaining Pac-12 schools prefer fewer teams to compete against for a CFB Playoff slot.
The real problem for college football out west is lack of interest beyond the core groups for each school. That is why the Pac-12 media deal negotiation has not gone the way the conference wants.