Bleacher Review: The Fall of Pac-Man

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By Ron Johnson

Before the season started, the Pac-12 was in serious trouble. To put it mildly, they were on life support. Granted, they had ample options to right the ship before it sank. But like the Titanic, they hit a massive financial iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Pacific never to be seen or heard about again…

…that was at least until Saturday.

For the first time in a long time, all teams formerly of the Pac-12 went undefeated. If you need a more accurate description of what happened, 12 teams played over the last few days, and all 12 of them won. It started with Utah’s 24-11 win over Florida and followed with Arizona State’s escape against Southern Utah 24-21(both teams are heading to the Big 12). Friday brought USC (Big Ten bound) punching Nevada’s trip to Suplex City with a 66-14 win.

Then came Saturday and with it, more shots at immortality.

Washington (56-19 vs. Boise St.), Cal (58-21 vs. North Texas) and Oregon (81-7 vs. Portand St.) all racked up huge wins over the weekend as well. Washington St, (50-24 vs. Colorado St.), Arizona (38-3 vs. Northern Arizona), UCLA (27-13 vs. Coastal Carolina) and Stanford (37-24 vs. Hawaii) all notched huge wins with all the teams heading to other conferences. And let’s not forget that the Colorado Buffaloes, the initiator of the mass exodus, shocked the CFP Runner-Up TCU Horned Frogs 45-42 in Deion and Co.’s debut. 

If there was ever a time to give the devil its due, the fact that the Pac-12 chose to let these teams walk and not save their conference, their demotivation was shown in full force as almost every team from the now DELETED conference won over the college weekend. Oregon State is the last team standing as they will spend Sunday against San Jose St.

‘Free Harbaugh’ Trends on X and in the Big House

As if Michigan football didn’t have enough to play for as they began their quest of another trip to the College Football Playoff, they had one simple message for their school: They want their coach back. 

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And this was never more apparent than when a bunch of Michigan players wore shirts in support of their beloved coach, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy. To make all this make sense, players were seen wearing different varieties of shirts paying homage to their suspended coach. But when the game started, that did not mean that the party would stop. Before they even call their first play from scrimmage, the entire starting offense held up four fingers as a way to acknowledge Harbaugh, which brought the roar of the Wolverine faithful in the Big House.

The school itself self-imposed a three-game suspension on Harbaugh in August after portions of an investigation showed that Harbaugh broke protocol during the COVID-19 dead period by holding meetings for a pair of recruits and texting another outside a contact period. While these are just allegations, Harbaugh chose to accept his suspension and will return September 23rd against Rutgers. From my standpoint, this is a very old and pathetic display by the university. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty must be obsolete by the time the Alumni catches wind of it. But in true Michigan fashion, the Wolverines will continue to show their support for their coach, and I for one am all for it.

Nevada Vipers???

What you are seeing is not a typo. The XFL’s Vegas Vipers have announced that they will not be returning to Cashman Field next season. The Vipers will, however, be trying to stay in Nevada but will seek a new venue in Southern Nevada. Whether it was because the city was not prepared for another football franchise after getting the Raiders or if it was a power play to get the Athletics to play baseball there next season, the formerly Tampa Bay franchise has chosen to take its talents to South…Desert?

Following a 2-8 opening season in Vegas, the Vipers made the decision to release Rod Woodson as head coach and replace him with Dr. Anthony Blevins. The Vipers also garnered the least amount of fan support throughout the league with an average of 6,028 over a five-game home schedule. If Southern Nevada is not in the cards for the Vipers, potential relocation spots include Nashville and Phoenix. But we see how Arizona handles its football teams. And no, Arizona fans, you do not get a pass after that photo.

NFL on the Horizon Once Again 

With only four days left until the NFL takes center stage again, the infamous List of Collision prepares for its first unveiling of the new season. Thursday night promises to be fun as Team Collision, Chiseled Adonis and the Bleacher Brothers will all be watching as the new look/new attitude Detroit Lions travel to the Red Kingdom to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. pastedGraphic_3.png

But that is not when the show stops…it is only how it starts. 

With a slew of rivalry games on the horizon (Bengals-Browns, Raiders-Broncos, Rams-Seahawks, Cowboys-Giants) and a few rematches (Panthers-Falcons, Packers-Bears, Eagles-Patriots), this promises to be a wild opening weekend in the NFL as well. But those only scratch the surface of the Monday Night Showdown that will close out Week One.

Following a Sunday Night Shootout between the Cowboys and Giants, Josh Allen takes center stage to lead the Buffalo Bills (who hopefully paid attention in marriage counseling in the offseason) into Met Life Stadium for the first of two showdowns with the new look New York Jets. Is Stefon Diggs back to his old self? Can Gabriel Davis shine like he did in the playoffs a few years ago? That’s only Buffalo. 

The Jets practically sold the farm to get the man they believe is Joe Namath reincarnated in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers even took a pay-cut to help the Jets bring in the talent necessary to help them win. But the last time a team bought and sold the farm for the win-now mentality, the Rams didn’t even get into the playoffs to defend their Super Bowl title. Will history repeat itself for the Jets? Are they truly in that win-now mentality? What if the experiment fails for the Jets? Will Rodgers take some accountability if the team fails and it’s on him? 

Either way, expect fireworks this upcoming weekend as Week One of the NFL kicks off with the championship celebration in Kansas City and ends with fireworks in Jersey! Fist Pump like you never fist pumped before! It truly is almost…T-SHIRT TIME!!!

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