Pac-12's Football Product Faces Questions After Record 1-8 Showing In Bowl Games
The bowl season "feels like the early stage of a crisis situation" for the Pac-12, after its teams went 1-8 in the college football postseason, according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. The "unprecedented postseason meltdown" comes after a "bad regular season on the field [and] a worse regular season off the field." The Pac-12 should be "inching toward the panic button" after the "worst postseason record ever produced by a conference." The bowl results "substantiate, if not bolster, the narrative that the Pac-12 was a second-rate conference during the regular season -- that it didn't deserve to sniff" the CFP. The conference "shouldn't make another public utterance of a successful business venture in China until it puts a team in the playoff." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is "perfectly capable of multitasking," but the situation is "entirely about perception at this point." Wilner: "The perception outside the walls of Pac-12 power is that the overseas endeavors are just as important as football to those inside the walls of Pac-12 power" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 1/1). In Salt Lake City, Kurt Kragthorpe writes the Pac-12's absence from the CFP for the second time in the event's four years "may be excusable, but a 1-8 record in other bowl games is disgraceful for a league that needs to accomplish something in flagship sports." The depth of the conference's football teams "partly explains ... not being represented in the Playoff," but "only excuses are available" for the bowl results. Kragthorpe: "That's not a good look for the Pac-12. ... When the Pac-12's bowl showing is the worst ever for a Power Five conference, that's a problem" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 1/2).
REASONS FOR THE DOWNTURN: In Portland, Ken Goe notes the Pac-12 Networks have been "over-promised and underdelivered from the start," as they are "unavailable in much of the country, and even to DirecTV customers inside the Pac-12's footprint." ESPN and Fox have been "allowed to dictate dates and start times" for football games, which has had a "disastrous impact on home attendance, actually hurt on-field performance and created student-welfare problems." Scott is a "convenient target of fan discontent," but he is "doing the bidding of the university presidents who hired him." The majority of the conference's schools are "sited in areas that don't have a single-minded devotion to college football the way many places in the SEC and Big Ten do." Cities like Seattle, Phoenix, Denver, L.A. and S.F. are "major, metropolitan areas" and "pro markets." Many people who live in those markets are "transplants whose college loyalties, if they have any, are elsewhere." Goe: "I don't think any of it means the conference can't be competitive on the field nationally. If Pac-12 schools don't have as much television money as those in the Big Ten or SEC, they have enough" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/2).