Paul Finebaum Jan 6, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; ESPN broadcaster Paul Finebaum during media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With schools scrambling for television dollars, the NCAA finds itself at a difficult crossroads, at risk of further realignment and, potentially, the collapse of an entire conference. With USC and UCLA off to the Big Ten in 2024, the Pac-12 is in a vulnerable position, fighting for its life amid threats from bigger conferences with more lucrative television deals. Paul Finebaum didn’t give any reassurances about the Pac-12’s bleak future in an interview with former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, painting the portrait of a conference on life support.

“I don’t see how it can [exist]. The situation is so fragile right now,” Finebaum opined during his appearance on McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning. “The leadership is better than it was, but it’s still not very good. I could give the new commissioner [George] Kliavkoff a pass maybe a year, year and a half ago because his predecessor literally ran this thing into the ground. But he’s had enough time. And I think so far, you have to give him a failing grade.”

Finebaum is, of course, referring to the failed tenure of former commissioner Larry Scott, who left the Pac-12 in shambles upon his departure in 2021, spending a fortune on new offices in San Francisco while doing little to address the conference’s ongoing war with Comcast over a $50-million debt. Soon, the Pac-12 could be gutted for spare parts, with the Big Ten and others fighting for whatever scraps are left of a conference that mismanaged itself to an early grave.

“As much as big conferences don’t really want to expand at the moment, I think they’ll be forced to take the cream of the crop out there,” said Finebaum, who covers college football for ESPN and SEC Network. “Whether it’s the Big Ten going after the Northwest schools, whether it’s Colorado or Arizona or somebody else deciding to go to the Big 12, I do not believe the Pac-12 can exist.”

Big changes are afoot in college football with the Big Ten and SEC constructing de facto “super” conferences, poised to obliterate the Power Five model that’s been in place for over a decade. There’s no turning back with the College Football Playoff expanding from four to 12 teams in 2024, further incentivizing schools to follow the money while leaving the Pac-12 without a pulse.


About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.