The Pac-12 Conference — And All Of College Football — Ain’t What It Used To Be

By 750 The Game Staff

Something doesn’t feel right about college football these days.

Transfer portal. NIL. Conference realignment. Media rights. Things that have their place individually, but collectively, with no checks and balances, send the sport into a seemingly endless state of instability.

Longtime sportswriter Ken Goe joined John Canzano on 750 The Game to iterate feelings that longtime college football fans have had for a while — the sport is changing, and not for the better.

“As I grew up, my formative years, what I loved about college football was the crisp Saturday afternoons, the rivalry games, the atmosphere of a college football campus, and none of that seems to matter anymore,” Goe said. “It’s all about a scramble for money and whose got the most television sets and who can control the most viewership on any given Saturday, and money. That’s all that seems to matter.”

Goe grew up in the state of Colorado and remembers Buffaloes football when they competed nationally at a high level. The Buffs are leaving the Pac-12 Conference in 2024 for the Big 12 after spending the past twelve seasons in the Pac.

“I never thought Colorado was a good fit in the Pac-12,” Goe said. “I think the Pac-12 reached out for the Denver T.V. market and Colorado was looking at a chance to get in a conference where they would visit Los Angeles regularly and that would enable their recruiting to be better in southern California. I don’t think either thing really happened. Colorado’s move to the Pac-12 happened at about the same point they fell off the map athletically from a team that really challenged for national championships for a while there to an also-ran.”

Now, the Pac-12 is left trying to stay together after the exit of a third school in the last 13 months.

“All the things that mattered for decades don’t matter anymore,” Goe said. “Geography is an afterthought. When USC and UCLA can leave and go to the Big Ten, geography has nothing to do with anything. Let’s face it, they were the lynchpin of the Pac-12. And with them gone – what is the Pac-12? Just a slightly better Mountain West conference.

“How are they going to replace those schools? Probably going to have to dig into the Mountain West. So you trade UCLA and USC for San Diego State or SMU or Fresno State or Boise State or Colorado State or whatever — that’s not a fair trade. And the conference is going to suffer athletically because of it.”

Where the sport goes from here, toeing the line of amateurism and professionalism, Goe said it needs to make up its mind.

“I think we’re still in a transition period, and I don’t know where it’s going to end up. I think at some point college football, at least at the Division 1 level and with the power conferences, has to get real about what it is. It’s not a co-curricular sport that’s part of the higher education system. It’s a minor league. The sooner they they understand that and come to terms with it and accept it and just be what they are — which is professional — then you’re going to have all these weird contortions, like we’re seeing now with the conference realignment.

“You got to get back to the things that made people love the sport originally. People get all jazzed for Texas-Oklahoma, or Ohio State and Michigan, or Oregon and Washington. Those are important games not because they’re the best games played but because of the passion the fans have and the players have for those games.”

Listen to the full conversation with longtime sportswriter Ken Goe and John Canzano at the podcast below. John Canzano delivers the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.