Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff at the conference's basketball media day in Oct. 2022. Oct 26, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff during Pac-12 Media Day at Pac-12 Network Studios. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For much of the last decade, the Pac-12’s football brand has been well described as “chaos.” In the since-2014 College Football Playoff format, the conference’s teams have posted only one appearance to date, a semifinal win and title game loss to Ohio State from Oregon in the inaugural 2014 season playoff. Since then, the conference has had some highly-ranked teams, but they’ve often lost to unranked opponents in late-night games, sometimes even on Fridays.

Those games, and the general zaniness that’s shown up in many late-night kicks even between unranked teams, have helped bolster #Pac12AfterDark. As a 2016 ESPN deep-dive on that hashtag illustrates, it was first used in October 2014 around USC’s upset of No. 10 Arizona. But it’s continued strong since then, and has become a go-to description for any level of Pac-12 pandemonium. And the latest wild Pac-12 late night finish appears to have not been a game at all, but a series of boardroom decisions.

On Thursday night, the conference looked dead, with one report even citing a source calling it “done” and saying “The whole thing’s falling apart.” But on Friday morning, the Pac-12 somehow looked alive, against the odds. And then, later Friday morning, it looked dead again. Or at least possibly dead. Possibly just resting. As of 12:15 p.m. Eastern Friday, its future remains far from certain. But what is certain is that this has been an absolutely wild 12-plus hours of often-contradictory reporting. Here’s some of that.

So, there are no conclusions yet. But the back-and-forth here has certainly been fascinating to watch. And that’s sparked some interesting commentary on the whole situation:

(That last line there is about Florida State hiring JPMorgan Chase to seek private equity funding. Which is a huge deal in its own right, and one we’ll cover more shortly. But it’s sort of being overshadowed by the conference realignment insanity at the moment. Not now, Seminoles!)

This particular zaniness is just the latest in a long line of Pac-12 insanity. The conference has been on the ropes for some time, especially following last year’s decision by USC and UCLA to head to the Big Ten beginning in 2024. In the wake of that, there’s been even more focus on just what the Pac-12’s next media deal would look like, and that led to more than half a year of conference officials saying it was coming and saying it would be incredibly good without providing much to support that. That then led to Colorado, featuring a coach in Deion Sanders who Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff claimed “absolutely adds value” for media rights, jumping to the Big 12

Since then, there have been many more reports on schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Oregon, and Washington in particular) potentially leaving for the Big 12 or Big Ten. There have also been reports on the actual proposed media deal (largely with Apple, starting at a very low figure of low $20 millions per school, but with the potential to rise based on subscription thresholds attained), and on the conference’s unsuccessful attempt to convince NBC to be their “savior.” We’ll see if the administered “last rites” prove to be necessary or not, but #PAC12AfterDark is still in overtime at the moment, even though it’s now the next day.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.