The Pac-12’s dissolving has been one of the focal storylines of the 2023 college football season. If nothing else because, the conference boasts some of the best teams in the nation. Case in point: Oregon and Washington will collide in Seattle this Saturday. The longtime rivals have met eight times previously as AP Top 25 opponents. But for the first time in each program’s illustrious history, they meet at Husky Stadium as AP Top 10 opponents. The visiting Ducks rank eighth, while the home-dwelling Huskies rank seventh.
Next year, this rivalry goes from one of the cornerstones of the Pac-12 to one of the Big Ten Conference’s new shiny additions. Oregon and Washington, along with UCLA and USC, fled the conference for the B1G. Similarly, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah will all escape to the Big 12 Conference.
Many have brought a lot of criticism for conference realignment to the table. Much of that has been levied towards ESPN. For good reason, as the Worldwide Leader is certainly not blameless. But there is plenty of blame to lay at the feet of Fox. Yahoo! Sports’ Ross Dellenger outlined the steps Oregon and Washington took to get over to the Big Ten. It might not surprise you that Fox played a crucial role in getting them over.
A reason for the Pac-12’s collapse has evolved into a finger-pointing, speculative blame game.
Those at Washington and Oregon believe they have unfairly been targeted as the culprits, as their decision that Friday morning set off a cascade of moves: Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to the Big 12; Stanford and Cal to the ACC; Oregon State and Washington State, for now, operating as a two-school conference starting next year.
However, without the additional money from Fox, the Big Ten does not have the cash to add the Huskies and Ducks, a nugget not lost on one Pac-12 administrator, who told Yahoo Sports,”Any way you cut it, Fox destroyed the Pac-12.”
While Dellenger writes that other administrators contended that Colorado and their suddenly lucrative football team could have played a pivotal role, but, naysayers, Dellenger says, argued that this all truly started when USC and UCLA fled the conference. And that is probably the right way to look at all of this. Southern Cal and UCLA are two of the biggest linchpins that the Pac-12 had. They were standard-bearers in football and men’s basketball, as well as a garden variety of others.
When they left, the writing was on the wall. And with Fox’s Big Ten connections, it’s clear whose penmanship that it was too.