The Pac-12 Conference has been going through a bit of difficulty recently, to say the least. Talks with Apple TV, for a potential media rights deal failed to produce results and frustrated administrators said enough is enough. Washington and Oregon bolted to the B1G, while Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado - the 'four corners' schools - were accepted by the Big 12. Those maneuvers follow UCLA and USC's announced departure to the B1G last December, and Colorado's revelation in July that it will rejoin the Big 12.
Through it all, PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff seemed blind, deaf and dumb to what was going on around him. He insisted until the bitter end that there was love, peace and unity among the member institutions. Now, it's down to the remaining four schools to decide their fate. Washington State, Oregon State, Cal and Stanford have been exploring their options.
As most of you know, the Pac-12 was the west coast's footprint in major college football. The foundation of the conference can be traced all the way back to 1915 when it began as the Pacific Coast Conference with four schools - Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington. Two more schools, Washington State and Stanford, were added in 1917 and 1918, respectively. USC came onboard in 1922.
Many have had their moments at competing at the higher echelon in football, and other sports. It is also, by far, the most accomplished conference in Olympic sports. They self-claimed themselves to be "The Conference of Champions", and no one could argue.
Pac-12 teams have also been favorites when it comes to betting. Whether you want to look at odds, moneylines, or picks and parlays, the teams mentioned tend to be respected, and are usually placed rather high in the odds.
Interestingly, the PAC-12 has fallen apart in the weeks preceding a football season that has high expectations for several of its member programs. The Trojans appear poised to have their best season in years, behind a quarterback who is favored the win the Heisman trophy. UCLA, Washington, Oregon and Utah are all highly ranked in preseason polls.
The organization itself used to be respected, and respectable. What seems to have gone wrong?
We can’t say for sure what went wrong with the deal. However, if we are to take the words of several people who lived through the whole ordeal, the answer is plain; mismanagement and apathy. According to several Pac-12 employees, including some notable names, the entire meeting and offer were handled very poorly.
One employee claimed that the whole thing was “like a yo-yo,” with offers coming in and out, and both sides reneging on deals. Another said something similar, claiming that it seemed like Pac-12 management was “apathetic.” In both cases, the employees claimed to have felt alienated by management, and did not understand where the whole thing was going.
What is most bizarre is that an Apple deal could have been huge for Pac-12. Not only would it have exposed Pac-12 matches to a broader audience, but it would also have been a huge step forward for college sports in general.
As of right now, nearly all of the big-name college football matches are broadcast on network TV. Certainly, you can stream them on ESPN+, but if the Apple deal succeeded, a whole new generation of fans could have tuned in to the games. After all, Apple TV is one of the most popular streaming services out there.
The prospects are grim that the Pac-12 survives this avalanche of leadership failures. Some Mountain West teams had expressed their desire to join the conference in recent years and were left at the altar. Teams like Boise State, San Diego State and Fresno State - had they been added at the right time - would have helped secure the viability of the conference. Now, those schools appear to be content to stay where they are - in a happy and healthier Mountain West Conference.
Maybe hope still exists in the mind of George Kliavkoff, but it's tough to imagine that he has any future in his current role. The question now is how all of this will affect college football in general. Who knows? But this whole thing might just lead to a massive increase in the popularity of college sports.