The Pac-12 is barely a Power 5 conference at this point and on Monday made a decision that boggles the mind.
Washington's football team has suffered a serious COVID-19 outbreak that will keep the Huskies out of the Pac-12 title game against USC. Instead of doing the smart thing and just awarding the undefeated Trojans the conference title, the Pac-12 decided to crowbar unranked, 3-2 Oregon into the spot. Yes, the Ducks will now face the Trojans in LA on Friday having not earned the trip. Oregon has lost its last two games to bad teams after being taken down by Oregon State and Cal in back-to-back weeks and the Trojans are the Pac-12's only unbeaten team. But sure, this makes sense.
Manipulating things so the conference can actually keep a TV payday with Fox is one thing, but forcing USC to play on Friday night against a team that just had a week off is another. The Trojans aren't a great team, but they are 5-0 and remain the Pac-12's best chance of not being embarrassed in a New Year's Six bowl game. Any other major conference would cater to that team, as the Big Ten did by bending its rules to accommodate Ohio State. But that won't happen because the Pac-12 loves nothing more than to actively undermine itself.
Due to the conference's COVID-19 protocol rules, USC had to cancel its game against Colorado that was originally scheduled for November 28. Furthermore, its game against Washington State had to be moved to Sunday, December 6. The Trojans won 38-13, then beat UCLA on Saturday 43-38. If the Pac-12 insists on keeping its championship game on Friday night (December 18), the Trojans will be forced to play three times in 12 days. And they'll be facing an Oregon team that took last week off due to the Washington cancellation. Bravo, guys.
If Oregon wins Friday night, the Ducks would nominally be conference champions and be slated to go to a New Year's Six bowl without actually deserving it. Given how they've played this season, the likelihood they would get embarrassed on national television is pretty high. That'd be a great look for the conference, huh?
If the Pac-12 approached FOX and said the championship game had to be moved back, FOX could either not air it, or help agree to a time that would work for both parties. A negotiation could be had here, but Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is too spineless to actually do anything to make this situation equitable.
A few years ago, the Pac-12 moved its conference championship games to Friday night out of some misguided notion that more people would watch nationally. Raise your hand if you've watched more than five minutes of a Pac-12 title game since. That's what I thought. Scott is also the author of such wonderful ideas as Friday night regular season games no one watches, and moving some kickoffs to 9 a.m. PT to get more eyes on them. Those were all horrible ideas that consistently led to a bad product on the field because players weren't fully prepared to play at those times on those days. They're not professionals, giving them short weeks is and was a terrible idea.
The purported reason the Pac-12 didn't start on time this season was for the safety of student-athletes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if the safety of student-athletes was so wildly important, why would the conference allow nearly 100 of them to play three football games in 12 days? Either Scott is afraid of FOX or this has always been about perception and not player safety.
Under Larry Scott's leadership the Pac-12 has cratered. This is just the latest example of how he's set the conference up to fail.