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RIP Pac-12

On the eve of the start of the 2023 College Football season, I have decided to move into a different direction for this post.  I grew up around the Pac-8, then Pac-10, and then Pac-12.

After the debacle of media contract negotiations for the Pac-10, Colorado bolted for the Big 12.  That was soon followed by Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State joining Colorado by jumping to the Big 12.  Oregon and Washington are joining the two LA Universities and flipping to the Big 10.

But now we are down to the Pac-4.  Stanford, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State is all that is left of this once great great conference.  Football and basketball are the kingpins of any conference.  The Pac-12 wanted to promote the conference as an Olympic Sport conference and for the teams to share equally all of the TV money in a watered down TV contract.  With the conference de-emphasizing football and basketball in favor of Olympic Sports, the TV money was drying up.

The two top revenue producing universities in the conference, USC in football and UCLA in basketball were being shortchanged, and their once mighty programs were being relegated to second tier.  USC NEEDED to get away from the Pac-12 to reestablish themselves as a true football blueblood program.  With Lincoln Riley as the coach, that has happened far sooner than most of us thought was possible, and certainly to the chagrin of the conference’s hierarchy.

UCLA’s historic basketball program was being squeezed by a horrible Pac12 network that never showcased the top programs in their featured sports.  They continually pushed USC to horrible Thursday night and Friday night football games, but you could catch water polo, beach volleyball, tennis, soccer, golf…The conference did not care that UCLA was not getting showcased on national TV.  They did not want to deter from the worst TV network in the country, and it isn’t even close.

Don’t get me wrong, as a Trojan fan I am thrilled to watch USC teams dominate in water polo and beach volleyball.  But I love my Trojan football.  And I am sure that UCLA alums and fans love their football but need that dominating Bruin basketball program back at the top with the other blueblood basketball programs…Kansas, Duke, North Carolina.

As a state university, UCLA was not getting sufficient funding to provide the facilities upgrade needed to keep up with the SEC, and the necessary funding to keep the non-revenue sports programs more than competitive. The athletic department believed they were not getting their fair share of state funding. Fair being relative to how you believe state funds should be spent.  Football was supposed to do that, but they could not get the favorable national TV draws, and they almost always played on Saturday night, certainly not a time to get any kind of national exposure.

USC decided to finally fire Clay Helton, a very nice man but horrid coach for a major program, and that tapped into the alum wealth.  Hiring Riley was the first step.  The second step was getting out of the conference.  The Big 12 was losing their top draws, Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, so that left the Big 10.  At the same time, the Big10 was looking to expand to try and keep pace with the SEC.  Enter USC and UCLA.

USC is back on top in the national football picture.  They have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.  They have a top 10 recruiting class, and are looking at a top 5 for next year.  UCLA wins in this as well.  Their football program is not as highly regarded as USC, but they are a very formidable program, and they will garner a lot more national attention in the Big 10, and will grow their national pedigree. They also have their own highly regarded freshman QB (Dante Moore), that a Big 10 exposure will benefit the Bruins. While UCLA has its own wealthy donor base, it is not nearly as deep as USC’s.  But now with the Big 10 TV network deal, they will have the funds necessary to return a very proud athletic program to that elite level.

This was a move that the UCLA athletic department did on their own. The Board of Chancellors and the State of California did not want UCLA to move out of the Pac-12. The Big 10 wanted both LA based schools, but would have been okay with just USC.  The athletic department would have gone to the mat in their fight with the state if they got in the way of their realignment to the Big 10.

As a Trojan, I am extremely happy that UCLA was “permitted” to leave the Pac-12, and  join the Big 10.  I love rivalries, and there is no cross-town rivalry anywhere that matches USC and UCLA. NOWHERE!  I have been “hating UCLA” forever.  That will continue as will USC’s other bitter rivalry, Notre Dame football.

Unfortunately, that rivalry will no longer be in the Pac-12.  Of the four remaining Pac-4 universities, the only one with some degree of leverage is Stanford, an elite academic institution with a robust sports program in the Bay Area television market and none of the financial woes of Cal.  But they needed to be asked to join the Big 10, which was their preference.  The Big 10 does not want Cal, and they would need an ACC team to join.  The Big 10 is more likely to stay at 18 members.

What’s next for the Pac-4?  Stanford has advised the ACC and Pac-4 that they will accept an ACC invitation…for free.  They have agreed to forego any media rights funds from the ACC if they can get into the ACC and remain a Power 5 institution.  The ACC is a conference with high academic standards, and Stanford would be a welcome addition.

Why would Stanford make such a concession?  They have a $36.2 billion endowment they can tap into.  Like USC, Stanford has a national draw, except their national draw is for all of their sports programs.  That endowment is special for the Cardinal.

Cal is now being considered for the ACC as well as Stanford.  We should learn more next week.  What happens to Oregon State, and Washington State?  They will get absorbed into other conferences.

Besides this being my blog, and I can write whatever I want, there is a baseball purpose to the above.  There have been recent discussions about bullpen games and the use of an opener.  The reliance on the nerds to develop winning strategy.  The loss of the 300 inning pitcher.  The perceived over use of the platoon player.  All true transitions to the current game.

Scott stated that many of us Septuagenarians who grew up with Koufax, Drysdale, and Osteen have to miss those pitchers that could complete what they start.  I believe that most (if not each one) of us have said that we prefer the games in that era over the way the game is played today and the perceived reliance on metrics.

But I do believe that it was Badger who stated that if we are going to continue to enjoy the game we grew up loving, then we need to adapt. The game has changed.  We can adapt to the new thinking and strategies, or we can stubbornly move our focus to another endeavor.

With the transition to the Big-10 (Big-18?), USC’s relatively new President, Carol Folt, has embarked on an aggressive “moonshot” approach to multiple facets of the University.  Most of the “moonshots” are academically related.  However, one of those “moonshots” is to upgrade all facilities that will benefit all 21 sports programs at the University.  They will become state of the art facilities, and will not take a back seat to any Big-10 or SEC institution.

Folt understands how important and necessary sports in general and specifically football are for the funding of the overall University experience.  She could have stood ground and said no to the transition to the Big-10 under the guise that tradition is to remain in the Pac-12.  But she understood how important sports are to the students, the fans, and more importantly to the alums/donors.  So she eschewed tradition for the revamped look of college sports and the conference realignment.  She adapted.

One point the conference commissioners and presidents could not understand…

“The problem is not everybody’s going to get paid, and this is what we saw with the Pac-12,” one executive said. “That’s the next thing everybody’s going to have to face, whether it’s football or basketball or whatever: If you’ve got a bunch of weaklings you’ve been dragging along in your conference, at what point do you start eating your young?”

USC and UCLA realized this, and the conferences other institutions were not willing to give them a little more than the other member Universities.  Because of this short-sightedness, for all practical purposes, the Pac-8, Pac-10, and Pac 12 is no more. Thank you Larry Scott and George Kliavkoff, two incompetent commissioners who the Pac-12 Presidents can blame themselves for hiring.

 

Below is an excellent article on the demise of the Pac-12.

https://www.johncanzano.com/p/canzano-an-empty-gun-the-downfall

 

 

 

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Badger

My old stomping grounds. I lived in Napa for 5 years and Petaluma for 2 years. If I could do it, I’d go back to Napa in a heartbeat. I can’t. Priced out. Living outside California for so many years I’m priced out of damm near everywhere.

Pac 8-10-12-4. I’m once again reminded of what Michener said is 70s book “Sports in America”. 50 years ago he predicted an NFL-like college football setup. 60 teams in Divisions where anything goes. We’re just about there.

Didn’t see the game but followed it. Rough start, smooth finish. The questions in my mind remain the same. Pitching.

Oldbear48

Never went to college but have always been a Trojan fan. Started with McKay. Watched every Rose Bowl in the early 60’s. Still watch the Trojans when they are on the TV. Only college game I ever went to was USC-UCLA. I think it was in 1961. SC won. I almost forgot; I went to a Sun Bowl game in El Paso while I was in the Army. LSU vs Auburn. Could not watch last nights game, so I listened to the radio broadcast. Nice win and comeback.

Bumsrap

I used to be a big USC football fan but I ever so gradually started to instead root for the PAC 10 team with the best chance to win a National championship.

There is no longer a reason for me to root for USC. It’s like many have lost interest for Dodgers who have moved to another team.

Oldbear48

Amazed to read that the Angels had never sent Ohtani for imaging on his arm fatigue. Had they done that earlier, they could have shut him down from further injury to his arm. Just pure negligence.

Oldbear48

My thoughts exactly. And there is the legacy of Ichiro there.

Badger

Makes sense to me. As does SF.

In my opinion Ohtani owes Anaheim nothing. Shut it down. Get the surgery if that’s what is called for. He can pitch again, not as a top of the rotation starter but now and then. He could spot start, middle relief a couple of innings, maybe even be a 1 inning closer every other day. I also believe he’d make an excellent first baseman and that would be considerably less stress on his arm. It’s possible, even likely, his Major League career isn’t even half over yet.

Last edited 7 months ago by Badger
Bluto

Nightengale sucks.

Bumsrap

I feel bad for Oregon State and could care less about Washington state. It would be nice if there were still PAC 10 Baseball. If only there could be a doover and make all Pac 12 football day games and get rid of the revenue sharing.

Good Post Jeff.

Badger

Revenue sharing? Too late for that. The money is leaving.

Curaçao has something going on here.

Singing the Blue

Regarding where Ohtani signs next year, I don’t see any way he returns to Anaheim. They’ll be worse next year and they aren’t getting anywhere near the post season this year. Trout will be another year older and that much more injury prone. That franchise is in a death spiral and as long as Moreno owns it, players will hesitate to sign there. Certainly players of Ohtani’s caliber.

Yes, I mentioned Seattle, along with the Giants and Pads. As an outlier, I wouldn’t be shocked if he signed with Texas, although they’ll have to convince him that they aren’t as far from Japan as he might think.

Please archive this, Jeff, so I can take my bow or hang my head in shame.
Ohtani Free Agent Derby odds, as per STB:

Seattle – 25%
SF – 25%
LAD – 15%
SD – 10%
Tex – 7.5%
NYY – 5%
NYM – 5%
CHC – 3%
Toronto – 3%
LAA – 0.5%
All Others – 1%

Jeff

I’ve never been in for the Ohtani signing particularly the price tag that has been bandied about. However, there is only one team in Socal that is not a loser and I believe that because of his injury, his price tag will come rocketing down, and AF loves to take chances on players coming back from rehab. Add to that our need for a premiere starter who can also play a position and hit HRs. Seems like a dream come true for AF.

Singing the Blue

Gavin Stone is in Boston and will be added to the roster for tomorrow’s game. He’ll either start or be used at some other point during the game.

Bumsrap

I prefer he be the piggyback reliever to someone who can go 4 innings.

Scott Andes

Ughh, I saw that too. I dont understand why they just won’t let him start the game and then Yarbrough or someone can piggyback. Whats the point of using the opener?

Jeff

Insecurity.

Bumsrap

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-07-29/usc-president-carol-folt-pac-12-expansion

USC President Carol Folt ‘shut down’ potential Pac-12 expansion plans last year

Late last summer, opportunity knocked on the Pac-12’s door. Texas and Oklahoma were off to the Southeastern Conference, leaving the leftover Big 12 schools in the dust with no other choice but to gaze westward for what appeared to be an increasingly safe “Power Five” conference home.
Sure, the Pac-12’s football product had been down for a decade-plus, in large part because of USC’s decline. But the Trojans still represented a blue blood, flagship program located in the nation’s No. 2 media market. As it was for Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12, USC’s rooted presence equated to stability. And, in the formation of college sports conferences, such a tide can raise all boats.
First-year Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff was fielding calls from desperate Big 12 schools and had zeroed in on a few that he felt added enough value to strongly consider expanding the Pac-12 footprint into America’s Great Plains.

Kliavkoff assembled a committee of three presidents and three athletic directors to decide whether or not to recommend expansion to the larger group. The group met on a Zoom call to go over a 20-slide deck. But the Pac-12 was only about 15 minutes into its hour long presentation before USC President Carol Folt spoke up.

July 29, 2022
Folt told the group that she did not understand why the Pac-12 would expand and expressed surprise they were even talking about it, according to multiple sources who were familiar with the call but not authorized to speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“Carol shut it down,” one source said.
“She cooled the whole process,” another source said.
In late August, the Pac-12 announced it would not expand.
Ten months later on June 30, USC and UCLA announced they were leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten starting in August 2024, continuing college football’s movement toward two superpower conferences that Texas, Oklahoma and the SEC began the previous summer.

Now that USC and UCLA are headed for the Chicago-based Big Ten, Stanford, Washington and Oregon have been reported to be among the next wave of Big Ten targets after priority Notre Dame, placing the Pac-12 in further peril.

Badger

Sounds like maybe she had already made her mind up about following the money. This move appears to be very good for the schools doing it. Ef the conference.

Bluto

Kolten Wong making his first start tonight with OKC.

The Dodgers hitting guys had been working on swing changes, so let’s hope their magic continues.

Kendall George also getting a bump up to Rancho. Had 16 games in Rookie-Ball:
.451 OBP
.864 OPS
129 wRC+
11 SB.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bluto
Bobby

wow those are nice stats!

Badger

They are indeed. Things will get tougher fast.

Badger

Ump cost us a potentially big inning. How long does the league put up with this crap?

I had the LLWS bracket wrong. I believe California has a better chance against Curaçao.

Singing the Blue

If you’re speaking about Muncy’s at bat, Max was just as responsible, and I say that as a Muncy fan.

Martin throws nothing but strikes, but Max just had to let that center cut first pitch sail by. That was the best pitch he was going to see and Martin was very unlikely to walk him. He just doesn’t walk batters and the Dodgers certainly know that. I wonder if Max has swung at a first pitch strike at all this season. He seems to insist on getting to 2 strikes on every at bat. Then, when the ump blows the call (which happens on a regular basis), you’ve killed your at bat.

Bumsrap

His walk up song could be These Shoes Are Made For Walking.

Badger

Come on. He’s got 30 home runs, 82 RBI’s, he’s scored 71 and he’s OPSn .800. And there’s over a month to go.

Badger

I think you’re missing the point STB. It’s a ball or a strike. That one was a ball. What happened before that doesn’t matter. That missed call killed the inning, cost the team a run and Muncy an RBI.

Singing the Blue

I think we both agree that the system is flawed, because the umpires are flawed. Max went up there with the bases full against a pitcher he knows is going to throw strikes. When the first pitch is right over the plate, why not swing at it?

If you put yourself in a 2-strike situation, you’re going to have times like this where the umpire blows it and potentially costs you the game. Of course the umpire was at fault for not doing his job correctly, but Max had all the information he needed to stay out of that situation.

Badger

While I agree with your premise, I would love to see him look fastball and jump on it, he didn’t do that. What he did was take ball four to drive in a run. So I choose to point out what he did right. He didn’t chase strike 3, he took the walk to get the team closer and keep the rally alive. That pitch wasn’t that close. You just can’t swing at ball 4. And he didn’t.

The umpires in MLB are too often awful. They have the technology. Plays they miss on the field are overturned every night. Can we at least challenge Strike 3?

Jeff

Will they ever implement the electronic strike zone? What is the point of showing it? It will only corroborate the viewer’s view of umpire’s blowing too many pitches. At least introduce a challenge system ala tennis. It’s an embarassment at this point.

bluto

Frasso promoted to AAA

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