But the Conference of Champions has lost its swag to the SEC and Big 10, and it was there for the taking. Getting it back will be an overhaul. The answer lies in television money and big hires if they want to compete with the rest of the power 5. Unfortunately, their new answer is a long way off.
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff made a change to the football championship format. The north and south divisions are gone and instead of the winners of each division, the two teams with the best winning percentage will face off for the title.
Could this be the first step of the Pac-12 captains throwing a lifeline to its football constituents for some hope of keeping their boats from sinking?
The conference boat started as a small leak created by Larry Scott, and he kept chipping away at the hole until the hole started a long and slow sink.
So why the change? The bottom line is simple, create the best way for the conference to get a Pac-12 representative to get as close as they can to a Bowl Championship Series playoff spot. USC in 2003 and 2004, is the only school to even get close on a consistent basis since the system was created in 1998.
The playoff series started in 2014. Washington and Oregon have been the only programs to ever see the final four in that system.
Oregon made it to the final game until they met the ultimate national Champions, Cam Newton, and Auburn.
Sharing a ton of numbers and statistics to show why the P12 has not gotten close but it would be a waste of time. The facts are simple, poor leadership and poor hiring led to horrible recruiting. Those facts can be seen by all the top high school players on the west coast leaving for the SEC, ACC, and the rest of the other power five conferences.
When one of the best college recruiters in the country since Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, Pete Carroll left the Trojans amongst multiple player benefit violations. Since then, the Pac-12 has had only one coach with that kind of success and recruiting flare to keep western players in the west.
Chip Kelly was the man. When he left for the Eagles, the conference has taken a massive hit in recruiting. And the list is long in players moving east to play their college football.
So, what can Kliavkoff do to rebuild the conference of champions? He cannot really do much until the conference has a national visual presence in prime time on Saturdays. Not during twilight hours on the east coast.
The conference television deal made by Scott with Fox was a bad one. Fox is a college football broadcast player, but they are a mid-tier player. They are set up in individual regional networks that cut off interest from other regions not in the P12 line of sight.
ESPN stays national, broadcasts nationally, and has captured the monopoly on the best bowl games and the playoffs and the national championship.
Urban Meyer, Matt Leinert, Reggie Bush, and Brady Quinn are not enough to draw in the ‘recruit’ and college football die-hard crowd.
The television money for the Pac is nominal compared to the SEC and Big 10. It's like watching PBS versus Fox News. The news is there if you can find it.
The SEC Network, the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, and some of the best coaches and college recruiters in the world, make the Southeastern Conference untouchable right now.
The revenue generated by the conference, the schools, and the payroll of the head coaches in the SEC, keeps the Pac-12 as the lowly stepson of college football.
To fix recruiting, and make great hires, it all starts with money.
A couple of off-season and recent moves will help in the hiring of head coaches Lincoln Riley at USC and Arizona's Jedd Fisch. USC needed the exact and right guy in someone flashy, national championship-type pedigree.
Arizona needed to fix a train-wreck situation that former coach Kevin Sumlin created, but Fisch has taken one of the worst teams in college football and turned it into an 18th-ranked recruiting class.
Oregon had a real chance to do the same, but the hire of former defensive coordinator from Georgia and now first-year head coach Dan Lanning proved to be the typical shiny lure in the water at the time. Oregon lost a few top commits with that hire. Arizona turned one of those five-star players in their direction.
Big-time hires will help recruiting and recruiting will help win games. But the new Pac-12 football conference championship game format in choosing the best overall records has shown the big wigs are thinking about it.
The P12 crystal ball is very foggy, and it is not a real groundbreaking change that screams to the rest of the country that Pac is back. But it is a start.