No two ways about it, the Pac-12 wasn’t that great this year. Part of that perception is illusion brought on by late night programming via a terrible TV deal, a lack of big out of conference wins, and branding issues. All of these issues conspired to keep Washington State University out of the New Years 6 games.
Washington State University failed to be a part of the money grab that is the New Years 6 bowl event. Six bowl games are prestigious enough to be allotted to those who could not qualify for the NCAA playoffs. And this year, from the Pac-12, only the University of Washington was selected.
We will skip by the whole argument that the playoffs need to be extended to 16 games, because the powers that be are greedy and hate change. That said, how did the SEC get 3 teams and the Big 10 get two teams? Well, many of the issues are the Pac-12s own doing and some are not.
First, Larry Scott the Pac-12 commissioner, created a poorly conceived Pac-12 network and signed poor TV deals that basically make Pac-12 games hard to find on TV. Scott created a network to show off typically non-televised Pac-12 events. Football obviously being the money maker, would be the primary objective to show off. Unfortunately, Scott was unable to negotiate a deal with Direct TV who owns 26% of the market. And to make matters worse AT&T U-verse dropped Pac-12.
As of Dec. 2, AT&T @Uverse will no longer carry Pac-12 Networks.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 27, 2018
So, just go ahead and cross off half the country being able to view the Pac-12 games due to cable and satellite. To make matters worse, ESPN has taken very little interest in the Pac-12 in any time-slot other than 7pm on Saturday nights. FOX hasn’t been much better by relegating PAC-12 games to 5pm and 7pm slots. For many east coast viewers (yes 2/3rd of the country live in the eastern time zone) this translates to games that start at 10pm on a Saturday night. Why would a sports fan be watching football that late? College kids would be partying and older folks are already in bed.
OK so WSU was hardly ever on TV in a time-slot or channel that anyone could see them, they were not done any favors by a weak out of conference schedule and a Pac-12 conference that failed to win big games against conference foes. The strength of schedule is partly due to a failure by other leagues wanting to play on the west coast. That is a problem that needs intervention by the NCAA, but that isn’t coming anytime soon. However, other Pac-12 teams like Washington and USC could have done WSU a solid in winning high profile games.
Granted WSU did make it on ESPN Gameday; however, that came almost 2 decades after the Crimson flag was a staple on the pregame show. Whereas with other schools this would eschew a coming out of sorts, it turned into “a carrot” to dangle in front of a passionate community only for ESPN to turn their backs on them at a later time.
Worth. The. Wait. pic.twitter.com/XJRUQ5hqyM
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 20, 2018
Which leads us to branding. Right now USC is the only national brand on the west coast. It is a sad reality but it is true. 2nd level brands like Washington, Oregon, and UCLA failed to make an impact on the national stage and that severely pushed WSU to the background. WSU is in severe need of a makeover to at least get to the status of UW, Oregon, UCLA–and the only way that is going to happen is continued success.
The 2018 season was a great one. It was a story of the little engine that could and a team that had every right to recede to the background after a tragic offseason but didn’t. The team, the students, the fans coalesced into a juggernaught that will not get the recognition it deserved due to a cash grab.