It’s OSU-Arizona State week, so pour one out for the Pac-12

It’s OSU-Arizona State week, so pour one out for the Pac-12

Guerin Emig: We should feel something about this. Heartbreak, confusion, bitterness. I suggest we follow Mike Gundy and invoke sympathy.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Sep 5, 2023, 7:13am CDT

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Sep 5, 2023, 7:13am CDT

STILLWATER – Cal and Stanford joined the Atlantic Coast Conference last Friday. This moved the disintegration of the Pac-12 right along. 

Saturday, Pac-12 football teams won all eight of their nonconference games. The doomed league finished the weekend 12-0 to run its 2023 record to 13-0 since USC’s season-opening win Aug. 26. ESPN Stats & Info noted this marked the first time since 1932 that every Pac team opened its season victoriously. 

No other conference debuted so boldly. Colorado won at TCU. Utah popped Florida. Oregon rang up 81 points, USC 66. Cal, Washington and Washington State scored in the 50s.

The Big 12 debuted meekly. TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor and West Virginia lost while Oklahoma State, BYU and Houston won ugly. 

Brett Yormark and the suits at Big 12 HQ won’t care about any comparison, having decimated the Pac-12 by adding Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado on Aug. 4. OSU plays at Arizona State on Saturday night. That’s a conference game beginning next fall. 

Let’s stop, even for a moment, and ponder what’s going on here. It is madness, isn’t it? 

“It’s heartbreaking,” Mike Gundy said Monday. 

The Cowboys’ head coach also said: “I’m not a big fan of anything going on, but I don’t have anything to do with it. It’s gonna happen.”

Right. Conference realignment is so far beyond the control of coaches, players and general public that eventually all anyone asks is to remind us who’s where — Gundy admitted Monday he just forgot his Cowboys don’t play TCU this season, an aftershock from Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU joining the Big 12 last year —  and we’ll roll with the punches. 

We’ll keep watching next year when the Pac-12 has vanished and the Big 12 has reinvented itself with the Pac-12’s inadvertent help. We’ll reintroduce ourselves to Colorado, especially if Deion Sanders returns for a second season with the Buffs, and bone up on the Pac’s other three defectors.

We won’t feel much guilt or remorse because we have come to accept college sports’ sea change for exactly what it has become — business as usual. 

The week of last year’s OSU-Arizona State game, I asked Gundy about the potential of a Big 12 annexation of the Pac-12’s Four Corners schools ASU, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. 

If they pay us good media money, and budget-wise in the conference we don’t take cuts, and athletic directors can divvy up the money among their athletic departments and we can stay on the same curve, it is a good move,” Gundy answered. “That’s all it comes down to.”

We have absorbed that fact. It explains why every major conference realignment since Oklahoma and Texas decided to join the SEC two years ago hits us lighter and lighter. 

I don’t know how many of us even noticed Friday when Cal and Stanford made their ACC relocation official, never mind that their state borders the Pacific Ocean. 

How about we notice right now.

How about we stop and digest that Oregon State and Washington State are the only two schools signed onto the Pac-12, a league whose history dates back to 1915, a league that birthed UCLA’s basketball dynasty and all of those Heismans at USC, beyond the current college sports year. 

Breaks my heart for Oregon State and Washington State,” Gundy said.

We should all feel something about this. Heartbreak, confusion, bitterness. Even spite, I suppose, if you who feel the Pac-12 got what it deserved for administrative ignorance, academic arrogance or both. 

I suggest we follow Gundy and invoke some sympathy. I suggest we follow Gundy’s athletic director.

The day after the Big 12 announced Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado as new members, Chad Weiberg was asked about the Pac-12 and realized: “A couple years ago there was a lot of that same type of uncertainty here, among our membership in the Big 12. And so I know exactly what the thought process is they’re going through right now, the conversations they’re having. I have great sympathy for that… 

“I certainly hope what does play out is the best possible scenario for them.”

It has been the worst. Let’s pause before OSU plays Arizona State to acknowledge that.

Let’s acknowledge that the conference touting current USC quarterback Caleb Williams among its Heisman winners and Sanders as the sexiest story in college football is vanishing. That the conference that just went 12-0 over the weekend and should be celebrating an awakening is instead being read last rites. 

Forget the details of how or why, that we are either numb to them or have rationalized them or whatever defense mechanism we choose against the machinery of college sports anymore. Just stop and realize that this is happening and it is madness. We still see that. 

We still feel that, surely, if for a moment.  

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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