There is little denying the fact that the Pac-12 Conference is having it’s issues. They’ve had two appearances in the five years of the College Football Playoff and it was Oregon getting crushed by Florida State the first season of the Playoff and Washington getting blown out by Alabama during the 2016 campaign. The Pac-12’s basketball product isn’t much better, with just three teams making the NCAA Tournament this past year, that’s three fewer than any other Power 5 Conference.
On top of that, the Pac-12 Network has not come close to living up to the expectations and vision of Larry Scott nearly a decade ago. This week in The Athletic, David Ubben wrote about the history of the Pac-10 nearly becoming the Pac-16 with the help of Oklahoma, Texas and other Big 12 teams. It was a good piece, but also a solid reminder that the biggest mistake several Big 12 teams could have made was moving west.
Now, the Pac-12 finds itself in such a desperate situation, there are reports the conference is considering playing 9 a.m. Pacific Time games.
Here is the report: College Football Talk reported Wednesday that the Pac-12 has had discussions with league broadcaster Fox about the possibility of airing games on the network in the noon ET time slot, which of course would be 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT in the places the games are actually being played.
“We’ve discussed it recently,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said to CFT.
“That would be new and out of the box for our conference, but I’ve tried to put everything on the table. There’s a lot of frustration from fans in certain markets to the late night kicks. I’d like to see one or two games this season that are 12 noon (ET) kicks be Pac-12 games and see what markets might respond positively to that.”
The Pac-12 is so desperate for attention it may end up playing games at 9 a.m. to appease TV networks and get more national recognition. You want to talk about ruining the experience of college football for however many Pac-12 fans still attend games, this sounds like a great way to do it!
Here’s the problem the Pac-12 doesn’t realize: It doesn’t much matter if Utah vs. Oregon State, or Washington State vs. Arizona State, or Cal vs. Arizona is kicking off at 12 p.m. EST or 10 p.m. EST, folks in the Eastern time zone won’t care about these games, unless one, or both, of the teams are highly-ranked. The Eastern Time Zone has the SEC, Big Ten and ACC. The central time zone has the Big 12, Big Ten and SEC. Their premiere games like USC vs. Stanford will get attention in any time slot. The problem for the Pac-12 is that the fan bases and markets on the West Coast are lukewarm college football fans, at best. The Pac-12 can’t seem to fix that.
In fact, I would argue the die hard college football fan that watches #Pac12AfterDark will not choose that same Pac-12 game if it kicks off at Noon Eastern over another Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 or SEC game. The die hard enjoys that #Pac12AfterDark game because it’s typically the only Power 5 game left on TV at the time, although the Mountain West is closing the gap each year.
All in all, this is a total debacle for a conference that thought less than 10 years ago it was set to become the premiere conference in college football. Now? They’re considering forcing fans to tailgate by 5 a.m. just to get a decent buzz going before kick off. Good riddance!
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