College Football: Pac-12 In Flux After Colorado Announces Departure for Big 12

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Michael Savio
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  • Colorado has officially gained approval to join the Big 12
  • USC & UCLA will be leaving the Pac-12 after this season
  • The Pac-12 has not been able to secure a TV deal

The Pac-12 took a big hit to their hopes of survival last week as Colorado announced they would be leaving to join the Big 12. The school initially left the Big 12 for the Pac 12 just over ten years ago, as many thought their former conference was about to collapse. The situation is now reversed, leading Colorado to return to its former home.

Pac-12 Exodus Began with USC & UCLA

While Colorado’s departure may be the final nail in the coffin for the Pac-12, their demise began with the departure of USC and UCLA. These two schools were two of the biggest brands in the conference and represented one of the biggest markets in sports. The move sent shockwaves across the league, kicking off a flurry of conference expansion around the country.

USC and UCLA blamed the Pac-12 for their decision to leave, and they saw the Big 10 as a way to escape the uncertainty of the conference’s future. Since the schools announced their intention to go, it has led to a new era of uncertainty for the Pac-12. The remaining schools now need to decide if they will stick together or begin making their own exit plans.

Colorado’s Exit Follows Long Line of Missteps by the Conference

While they left later than USC and UCLA, Colorado exited the conference for the same reasons. For well over a decade, the Pac-12 has been mismanaged, resulting in poor TV scheduling and Bowl game alliances. Most regular season games kicked off after 10 PM EST, meaning the teams and players were not getting the national exposure of their peers in the Big Ten and SEC.

On top of the lack of national exposure, the Pac-12 also made a crucial misstep by passing on a TV deal to launch their own network in 2012. The Pac-12 network underwhelmed as the conference failed to secure a deal with satellite providers to carry the new channel. Meanwhile, the rest of the country’s significant conferences signed lucrative TV deals with major networks. The lack of a major network deal played a substantial role in the decision for USC and UCLA to leave for the greener pastures of the Big 10.

Despite all their failings, the Pac-12 was able to hold the rest of the schools together immediately after the southern California schools left. They promised to secure a better TV deal to bring in money and allow them to better recruit schools to fill the void left by USC and UCLA. However, the Pac-12 has still been unable to live up to their pledge. This failure was enough to push Colorado to leave and will likely be a death blow for the floundering conference.

Odds for the Final Pac-12 Champion

With USC and UCLA set to leave after this season, this fall will mark the final year of the once-glorious Pac-12. NCAAF betting sites favor USC to take the conference crown once again, but they will be challenged by Oregon, Washington, and Utah. 

Here are the top five betting favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook: 

  • USC +190
  • Oregon +300
  • Washington +320
  • Utah +600
  • Oregon State +1100

Regardless of who hoists the Pac-12 trophy, it will mark the end of an ERA for the embattled conference.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.