Arizona Athletics

Arizona bids adieu to the Pac-12 … in one more year

Arizona has left the building, well, is about to leave the building. Exit, stage left. Or was that right?

Heck, who knows what’s right anymore, but it was seeming the right decision and had been all along, well, since Colorado left and it became very apparent the Pac-12 – namely commissioner George Kliavkoff – couldn’t pull the trigger (or could get any viable and/or meaningful – media rights deal for the Pac-12.

What took so long? Well, that was the hold up, even if Kliavkoff famously said a couple of weeks ago “the long we wait for the media deal, the better our options get.”


It raised eyebrows then and since. Now, that’s all old news as Arizona and Arizona State (reluctantly?) and Utah are Big 12 bound.

That once-a-year jacket you bought for the trip to Pullman to face Washington State can now be used more often.

Hello Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and so many more. Now, there are 16 teams.

Jayhawks, Bears and Cougars, Oh My! Has a different ring to it, doesn’t it?

“As many of you know, athletics serves as the front porch for the University of Arizona, as it is a rallying point for alumni and fans and creates pride in our community both here in Arizona and around the world,” UA president Bobby Robbins said in a letter to students and colleagues and used as a press release. “Arizona Athletics is positioned well for long-term success, as our goal always was to secure a bright future for our student-athletes, fans and the entire university community.”

So, here we are with one season left in the Pac-12 and a 45-year history of the Pac-10 turned Pac-12. Enjoy.

Pac-12 After Dark will go dark in less than a year’s time.

Robbins praised UA athletic director Dave Heeke for his assistance and said “they share a deep sense of pride in the University of Arizona, with its national presence and championship legacy that resonates throughout college athletics, and I look forward to his continued leadership in the years to come.”

He then added, “Our move to the Big 12 Conference will continue to raise the university’s profile by increasing visibility, growing our reach across the country and around the globe, expanding our pool of prospective students, providing more resources to support our student-athletes, and presenting them with greater NIL prospects. We look forward to beginning a new era next year with fresh opportunities for athletics to fulfill its Wildcat Way mission to develop academic, athletic and life champions.”

Robbins thanked the Pac-12 “for being an excellent home for the University of Arizona for so many years and for reliably supporting our university.”

There had been speculation for days the news would finally break. Key word – finally, or more like eventually. Since Tuesday UA football coach Jedd Fisch joked there wasn’t much going on other than football. He joked – slightly – again Friday morning, before being asked about what he tells his players – just hours before it became official.

“These kids are going to play some teams maybe they haven’t played before,” he said. “They’re gonna see some things they maybe haven’t seen before. …

But that change was happening in so many ways in college athletics.

“I said you guys are literally living through history,” Fisch said. “If you think about the guys that (have) played college football from, let’s call it 2020 to 2025. You lived through a pandemic, and how that works in college football, the uniqueness of playing in front of no one. You went through transfer portal rules that no one really ever thought would ever happen that way, the amount of exchange of players. Then NIL, you started getting paid. And now you’re sitting there looking at conferences that were historically a group of 12, 10, 10, 12, whatever they were, turning into 16-team mega conferences.”

Change happens. And officially will. Until then, we have the memories of the great games between Stanford and Arizona (Mike Montgomery vs. Lute Olson), the trips to MacCourt and the great crowds in what was an understated rivalry during the Ernie Kent era vs. Olson, the scary road trips from Spokane, Washington to Pullman for a late-night hoops game under blizzard conditions. The great seafood in the Bay Area and Seattle. And, of course, the bouncy court at Stanford. The long drives on the 405 Freeway just to go 10 miles to get to UCLA. And, of course, Bill Walton. There will always be Bill Walton.

Oh, the memories. Treasures that will never go away!

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