Canzano: Oregon vs. Washington... for all the marbles
12 thoughts, facts and predictions for the Pac-12 title game.
LAS VEGAS — I walked around the exterior of Allegiant Stadium on Thursday afternoon, just to take in the scene.
A long, thin banner hung over the main stadium entrance announcing: “2023 PAC-12 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.” I’ve been in Las Vegas for several days and haven’t seen much else in the way of marketing or promotion of the event.
The title game is sold out. Maybe that explains it. Or perhaps the Pac-12 just didn’t see the point of a heavy marketing campaign given that there’s nothing beyond Friday’s Oregon-Washington meeting when it comes to football.
More than 54,000 fans will show up to watch the Ducks play the Huskies. The combined record this regular season: 23-1. Their College Football Playoff rankings: No. 3 and No. 5. Heisman candidates: 2. And ABC has its prime broadcast crew here to call the game.
Stupidity. Greed. Arrogance. Failed leadership. Pick your corporate sin. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the end of the Pac-12. The conference’s bumbling presidents and chancellors should have to stand at midfield before kickoff and face the scorn of the crowd. Executives from FOX and ABC television networks should be right there with them. And when Commissioner George Kliavkoff hands the trophy to the winning coach after the game I won’t be surprised if he’s booed off stage.
I can’t wait to see this football game. I counted the days to kick off. Simultaneously, I didn’t want this final game to ever get here. Does that make any sense? I didn’t want the season to end. And I haven’t even talked about the “other” people who are impacted by the death of the Pac-12.
Allegiant Stadium sat quiet on the eve of the title game. A handful of workers scurried about on forklifts behind the iron fence that surrounds the venue. At one point, a security cart circled the parking lot, reminding a TV crew that no “live shots” were permitted from the stadium property. And a few feet beyond Gate 15 there was a small, white tent with four Pac-12 Conference employees sitting inside it.
They were handing out media credentials.
As I checked in, the employees talked about how somber it felt to prepare for the final football game. Some of the conference’s 192 full-time employees will work through the end of the calendar year. Others will be terminated in the spring. Others yet will stay to turn the lights out in July.
It got quiet.
One of them broke the silence and said: “I love my job.”
I’ll just leave it there.
Here are a dozen thoughts for the final football game of the “Pac-12” as we knew it: