I am writing this to tell you that Pac-12 football sucks. I am a Broadcast Manager and Senior Writer for another site, whose primary coverage is all things Pac-12. Over the three years of covering the conference in-depth, I tried to make excuses. In 2019, maybe Justin Herbert had an off-game or two. 2020 could be blamed on the COVID situation. However, as college football is starting to reach normalcy again, our teams are still disgusting, and it feels like a waste of my time watching these games. For the purpose of order, here are three things to consider regarding the downfall of Pac-12 football.
East Coast Bias
Before you start, just stop. There is no such thing as East Coast Bias.
This alleged bias has more to do with our subpar play on the field rather than institutional corruption.
Just think of it this way, during the Pete Carroll era, did his USC teams get left out of the Bowl Championship Series?
Of course not.
And that’s because his teams were good enough to compete at the highest level.
During Carroll’s nine-year span as Head Coach in L.A., his teams won 97 games, two Orange Bowls, four Rose Bowl’s and a pair of National Championships.
For comparison, during Chip Kelly’s remarkable four-year run at Oregon, he won 46 games, a Fiesta Bowl, and one Rose.
Except for these two stints, the Pac-12 hasn’t consistently competed against the elite teams across the college football landscape.
And the NFL Draft numbers back this notion; in 2021, the SEC had 12 players selected in the first round, including six in the Top Ten.
The Pac-12 had three total first round selections and finished in last place among the power conferences in this same category.
Late Night Games
Do you like waking up early? So do I.
It’s one thing to start games at 6:00 PM; it’s another to start them at 7:30, especially considering the length of modern-day college football.
According to a 2020 Athlon article, an average college football game lasts three hours and 24 minutes. So if a game starts at 7:30, it’s probably going to be over around 11:00.
Putting my sleep schedule aside, “The Pac-12 After Dark” mantra doesn’t make financial sense either.
In week two of this season the conference arguably had it’s highest TV ratings ever, “The Pac-12 was involved in the three highest rated games of the week.”
The Oregon-Ohio State matchup led the way with a 4.25 rating and 7.7 million viewers, Washington-Michigan rang in at (2.55), and Colorado-Texas A&M rounded out the group at (2.5).
None of these games started later than 5:00 PM Pacific Time
However, as the season progressed, it seemed like the conference shifted back toward their late-night schedule.
The probable game of the week this Saturday, ASU-Utah, is scheduled for 7:00. This Friday, the Ducks get the same treatment kicking off at the same time.
The week prior, Stanford-Arizona State took the field at 7:30 on Friday. And two weeks ago, ASU touched down at the same time against the Bruins on Saturday night.
Putting big markets like L.A., Phoenix, and Eugene in the “After Dark” slot feels like a surefire way to lose eyeballs.
I mean, I cover the conference, and I haven’t watched any of these games; why would anyone else?
The culture of Pac-12 football is just gone. It feels like many fans simply don’t care outside of Utah, Oregon, and, ah yes, Washington.
You will not find this in other parts of the country. And it’s frustrating because Pac-12 football should be so much better.
Ok, we get that Cal and Stanford’s fan bases are making Presidents, so they get a pass.
But how has USC become this bad? Why do the Ducks always lose a random game? And when did the Huskies become pillowy soft?
Whatever the answer, the product is simply lacking.
And for a conference that has a reputation of developing elite quarterbacks, there aren’t too many to be found.
CBS’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft didn’t have one Pac-12 signal-caller selected in the first round, and Athlon’s “Pac-12 Football: 15 2022 NFL Draft Prospect to Watch” only had two quarterbacks on their preseason watch list.
This is a far cry from the days of Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota, and Matt Leinart, and it could get worse.
As it currently stands, ASU’s signal-caller Jayden Daniels is the only quarterback worthy of notoriety in our conference. The rest are unproven, inconsistent, or just plain bad.
When George Kliavkoff took over, we all knew Pac-12 football was inadequate, bordering on unacceptable.
What we didn’t know is that our football culture is trending toward extinction.