I all the time thought that historical past and geography would defend the Pac. By extension, I all the time thought that historical past and geography would defend Cal.
UCLA joined the Pacific Coast Convention in 1928, simply 9 years after the college was based. That put Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State all in the identical convention. And apart from a 5 yr hole from 1959 by way of 1964 following a number of pay-for-play scandals that led to the dissolution of the PCC, these eight colleges have been in the identical convention your complete time.
We’ve all watched infinite rounds of convention re-alignment through the years flip different conferences right into a revolving door of arrivals and departures, with no thought to something however the backside line. Blissfully, the Pac had primarily been immune.
When UCLA and USC depart the Pac-12 on the finish of the 2023-24 season, they’ll finish 96 years of continuous historical past between eight colleges that I actually didn’t assume would ever break up up. Positive, the Pac has modified through growth over time, including Arizona, ASU, Colorado, and Utah. However for Cal, the backbone of the unique PCC established within the 20s was all the time there so that you can schedule your fall round. Excepting the COVID season, Cal has performed each member of the unique Pac-12 from 2005 onward.
It’s not essentially the case that I believed this shared historical past would insulate the Pac (although I believed it could assist). Nebraska blew up their rivalry with Oklahoma for B1G $$$. Texas A&M blew up their rivalry with Texas for SEC $$$. Everyone and their brother left the Large Every or the AAC when an influence convention slot was supplied. If all issues have been equal, Pac colleges weren’t going to be any totally different.
However I’m nonetheless wrapping my head across the geography of UCLA and USC’s departure, the logistics of all of it.
Let’s put aside soccer for a second, the place USC and UCLA will probably be making at the very least 3-4 journeys between 1,500 to three,000 miles away every season. Soccer is at the very least in a category of its personal, with video games all the time on Saturday and chartered flights in every single place.
Final yr Large-10 basketball groups performed 20 convention video games, that means UCLA males’s and ladies’s basketball must play 9 street video games which can be every individually additional away than the longest Pac-12 street journey doable, to say nothing of a convention match.
It’s the identical story for each sport that UCLA and USC presently sponsor save M/W water polo and males’s volleyball (MPSF) and ladies’s seaside volleyball. Each baseball, soccer, subject hockey and lacrosse street sport would require a flight that’s 3 to 4 instances longer than a typical flight for a Pac-12 street journey.
You will have seen UCLA’s assertion* when requested about this new actuality:
Though this transfer will increase journey distances for groups, the sources supplied by Large Ten membership could enable for extra environment friendly transportation choices. We might additionally discover scheduling lodging with the Large Ten that finest help our student-athletes’ tutorial pursuits.
Perhaps the Large 10 will enable UCLA and USC to stack street video games on weekends, however I’m guessing this principally implies that the LA colleges assume they’re going to make a lot more cash that they will constitution flights for extra sports activities than earlier than.
I’ll be fascinated by what-ifs for a very long time. What if Larry Scott hadn’t royally screwed up the convention’s media rights? What if the pandemic hadn’t occurred and UCLA’s debt points hadn’t gone from dangerous to catastrophic? What if the UC regents have been prepared to do something to stop this from occurring?
Nevertheless it received’t do something helpful. Cal’s 2nd and third most necessary rivalries will die.
*You may be aware that I’m focusing far more on UCLA quite than USC. That’s as a result of there was by no means any doubt that USC would instantly abandon 100+ years of historical past for any quantity of further cash.
The monetary catastrophe of this shift is apparent; Cal has been struggling to pay the payments with out help from campus for many years WITH the LA colleges as a part of the Pac-12 media deal. Until Cal in some way will get a B1G invite, it’s exhausting to check how Cal can steadiness the books until both 1) Olympic sports activities are reduce or 2) campus agrees to perpetually finance a piece of athletics spending.
However quite than agonize over an existential menace to the athletic division (show me fallacious, Jim Knowlton) I need to as an alternative pour one out for the Pac-12, and significantly the Pac-8.
Talking just for myself, not competing with UCLA and USC in the identical convention, and never taking part in them yearly, goes to drastically impression my curiosity as a fan.
I’ve travelled right down to LA to look at Cal play UCLA or USC 4 instances, and not too long ago began factoring the annual journey into our plans. Annually I stay up for mocking Tribute to Troy and Sons of Westwood, and dreaming in regards to the lengthy wanted California sweep. That’s all gone.
One might argue that I can’t know for certain that my curiosity will diminish. I haven’t but skilled this courageous new world. However primarily based on how different followers have handled convention realignment, I doubt I’ll really feel any totally different.
My step-dad grew up a passionate Nebraska fan, and nonetheless mourns the lack of their rivalry with Oklahoma. West Virginia followers aren’t thrilled about having to cope with an ever-changing record of geographically random opponents. Followers of colleges that get a B1G or SEC golden ticket can dry their tears on greenback payments, however I feel the game as a complete is diminished as regional rivalries die.
Faculty soccer has all the time been an oligarchy on the prime, and I’ve come to phrases a very long time in the past that there’s a ceiling on what Cal can moderately obtain within the income sports activities. If you happen to take away video games towards our rivals, what precisely is left for us to root for annually? Rooting for UCLA and USC to get pantsed by their B1G schedule will get hole in a short time.
I suppose I’m speculated to root for Cal to get a B1G invite of our personal, in order that we are able to re-join the rivals who deserted us, and in order that Cal can get the chance to desert Wazzu and OSU in flip? Briefly, there are not any good outcomes, merely much less worse outcomes.
There have been loads of adjustments to school sports activities which have turned off some share of followers. I’ve largely argued that these adjustments have been good and vital, that change isn’t essentially dangerous. However we’ve discovered the bridge I’m unwilling to cross.