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The Pac-12 (and College Football) is Falling Apart

The Pac-12 is set to lose some of their major schools. Is this the end of the conference as we know it?

It's been one week since USC and UCLA announced they would be joining the Big Ten in 2024, and the dust has yet to settle on the potential ramifications their departures will have. 

Now, the Pac-12 scrambles to save itself amid rumors of Oregon possibly joining the Big Ten and a merger with the Big 12 also being discussed. 

Schools such as Arizona State and Utah should be fine in whatever avenue is taken, while programs such as Oregon State and Cal could face different fates. 

The reality is the Pac-12 has been on a downward trend for years. Many will pin the blame on former commissioner Larry Scott and his inability to make the conference relevant along with their fellow four major leagues. 

Exposure in the College Football Playoff has been an uphill battle due to less interest from fans staying up late to indulge in Pac-12 football on a Saturday night, while programs such as Oregon, USC, UCLA and Washington simply haven't been consistently good enough to warrant national attention. 

Many will also point to Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC as the first domino to fall in what has been a major shift in the landscape of college football. The alliance formed between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 last year now appears to have been nothing more than a breeding ground for much of the same aspirations the SEC had: Grow bigger. 

There's been a lot of talk about what the future of the sport is going to look like, as if the transfer portal and NIL deals weren't already enough to worry about. There's talk of the NCAA eventually boiling down to three super-conferences, with either the Pac-12, Big 12 or ACC somehow dissolving. 

Key phrases such as "new world of college sports" and "rapidly evolving sports media" have been tossed around frequently, mostly by the schools themselves to declare themselves as winners. 

However, there are no true winners in this mess. 

A large part of what made college football so great was the amateur allure steeped into tradition. Things such as the Rose Bowl (which will soon cease to exist in the classic idea, ironically, due to the Big Ten) and college football rivalries that date back many decades can now be tossed to the wayside in favor of television contracts and broadcasting rights. 

Sure, if there are any winners, networks such as ESPN and Fox can claim themselves to be. The greed that propelled a college football playoff (and it's likely expansion coming) wasn't going to suddenly evaporate.

People (including myself) will continue to consume the sport in mass quantities. The love for the sport won't go away overnight despite the new world of college football we're entering. For now, the product we've waited months for can't come soon enough.

Touchdowns will be scored. Upsets will be had. The pandemonium that ensues on any given Saturday will continue to provide entertainment for millions of people. 

Yet in a world now full of multi-million dollar NIL deals, players now effectively entering free agency and what feels like historically proud parts of the sport being dropped, it's hard to imagine what the true future of the game will look like down the road.

Would we see an upset similar to Appalachian State taking down Michigan in the Big House a few years down the road? How different of a Rose Bowl are we seeking after Utah-Ohio State just gave us one for the ages? 

Confetti will still fall at the end of each season. Championship shirts will still be printed, and as much as a doomsday scenario was presented in this piece, the sun will still surely rise the morning after. 

Winners will still emerge from this ordeal, whether it be the 21-year-old quarterback with the MVP trophy or the network executive who just lined his pocket with a few extra million bucks. 

However, for people such as you and I, there's no way of confidently saying there are any true winners from recent events. Time will eventually tell, but the clock doesn't look favorable for what used to be a coveted part of lives throughout the country. 


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