Washington Wins Pac-12 Conference Finale; Fans Wave Good-Bye To The “Conference of Champions”

An Uncle Rico Production

“Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life.”

No, I’m not referencing the famous Humphry Bogart line from the 1942 classic “Casablanca” (where he tells his long lost love to board a plane with her other love, attempting to save her from regret). 

It was actually the pitch that Washington, Oregon, UCLA, & USC received in effort to coax them into joining the BIG10. ASU, UA, Utah, & Colorado and Cal & Stanford received identical pitches from the BIG12 & ACC, respectively. 

But after all that has transpired these past two seasons, leading to the ultimate demise of the Pacific Coast Conference 12, I suppose there is a more appropriate line:

Here’s looking at you, kid.”

Last night, fans across the country were treated to an epic conference finale, as the Washington Huskies outlasted the Oregon Ducks. While the undefeated Huskies (12-0) played like the better team, Vegas still posted them as pre-game underdogs. Smart people & homers of UW hopped right on that bet.

Before I get into the game recap, I want to address the looming implications of this game (not related to the College Football Playoffs). 

Last night marked the final time the PAC-12 would exist as a conference. So, here’s a quick history lesson of the conference.

Pac-12

The PAC12’s roots stretch all the way back to 1915, when the PCC (Pacific Coast Conference) was founded in a hotel on a chilly early December morning in Oregon. Attendees of the meeting included the universities of Oregon, Washington, California (Cal-Berkeley), & Oregon St. (known back then as the “Oregon Agricultural College). An official from Stanford University also attended, but declined to join due to their reluctance to sponsor a football team. Still, they would join in 1918 after Washington St. University joined in 1916. In 1922, two more teams were added (USC, Idaho) and Montana after that in 1924. In 1928, UCLA would be the final member of the 10 member club.

After losing Montana to the “Mountain States Conference” in 1950, the program imploded after a “play-for-play” scandal became known to the public. As a result, the conference shuffle began. Cal, USC, UCLA, Washington, & Washington St. would make up the new “Athletic Association of Western Universities” (AAWU) and eventually, the “Big6” conference. The AAWU received a huge boost when they retained the rights to the conference champion’s automatic bid into the “Rose Bowl”, the most famous & prestigious bowl game, still, in the history of college football.

Oregon & Oregon St. would eventually follow suit, and the conference was henceforth known as the “Pacific-8”

By 1978, my brethren Arizona State University & “that team” (otherwise known as University of Arizona) would leave the “Western Athletic Conference” (WAC) to join their west coast neighbors, rounding out the new “PAC10”. The PAC10 would continue poaching from other conferences, snagging Utah from the fairly young “Mountain West Conference” (MWC) & Colorado from the juggernaut BIG12.

Pac-12

But little did the PAC-12 know, they had just reached their ceiling.

In an effort to combat the move of University of Texas & the University of Oklahoma to the most powerful football conference in the land (the SEC), the PAC-12, ACC, and BIG10 agreed to a partnership that saw interconference scheduling between the three for both football & mens/womens basketball. As this was seen as a “historic alliance” by some, it would not be enough to save the PAC12. 

Thanks to a complete mismanagement of the conference by commissioner Larry Scott (2009-2021) & a lack of a response to the first of the BIG10’s poachings by commissioner George Kliavkoff (UCLA & USC in 2022), they “Conference of Champions” fell like a House of Cards.

Now, I won’t bore you with the financial intricacies of negotiations for all parties involved (schools, conferences, ESPN, Apple, the boy in the mailroom, etc.) here are some base numbers:

-Kliavkoff paid PAC-12 members a rinky-dink $19.8M to its member schools for their aforementioned “historic alliance”. 

-USC/UCLA (the entirety of one of the largest media markets in the world), scoffs and leaves for the BIG10

-ESPN tries lowballing a 10-team PAC-12 for the exclusive rights to show their games at $30M/yr.

-The PAC-12 counter-offers with $50M, ESPN walks

-After seeing the size of the new pie USC/UCLA will be eating from in the BIG10 (after sealing TV deals with FOX, CBS, & NBC totaling $7B, with a “B”), the other members began a mass exodus into the the three aforementioned conferences

-The remaining members of the PAC-12 throw an injunction on Commissioner Kliavkoff, retaining the rights to make the decisions for the conference going forward

Pac-12

-Last night, the PAC-12 played its final game.

It’s hard to believe that such a storied conference came crashing down in 2023. This isn’t only affecting football, but all athletics (both men’s & women’s). The PAC12 held the most championships of all conferences, past & present, but no more.

I could go into further detail on why the conference combusted this decade, but that would take more space than my computer has. Let’s just say it’s a lot.

And to those of you looking for a game recap, I’m sorry for wasting your time with my bitter diatribe. But I will be posting it later, so stay tuned.

To the PAC-12, I bid you a fond farewell, and thanks for the memories.

So my question to the audience is this:

What will become of the PAC-12?

Answer in the comment section below, or follow us on Twitter: @BleacherBrother

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