Did you feel it this morning? A little rush? A little breeze as the calendar turned over to August? It felt like a burst of cold air in 122 degree heat. So, about half the United States should know how that feels.

We all know what it means, right? The college football season is almost upon us.

We’re about to smell the freshly cut grass and hear the crunch of a dozen helmets colliding. We’ll soon walk out of those familiar corridors into stadiums with seats so high we’ll have to crane our necks, praying the bathroom line isn’t too long. We’re ready to plunk down $15 for beers too watery, hot dogs too cold and pretzels not salty enough, and it’ll be worth every penny.

If anyone is ready, it’s the Pac-12.

The college football season can’t start a moment out too soon for the beleaguered conference out west, which has been picked and prodded and pulled apart like an Alaskan king crab.

Can we please just get to some football already?


The saddest thing about the plunder of the Pac-12 is the pallor it has cast over the 2023 campaign.

With the conference twisting in the wind and a media rights deal as of yet unconsummated as the calendar flips to August, what’s being lost is the fact that this might be the strongest on-field product in almost a decade.

We’ve got the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, USC quarterback Caleb Williams, ready to kick the season off early on Aug. 26 against San Jose State, as well as the nation’s leading passer from a year ago, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. Up in Oregon is one of the country’s top dual-threat QBs, Bo Nix, as well as the one who got away, Dante Moore, who is ready to kick off a new era for UCLA. And that’s not even mentioning the quarterback of the 2-time defending conference champions, Utah’s Cam Rising.

We’ve got one of college football’s best stories in Laiatu Latu, the UCLA defensive end who once had football taken away from him, only to return and blossom into a Pac-12 defensive player of the year candidate. We’ve got another great story up the road in Berkeley, where Jackson Sirmon returned to play one more year under defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon, his dad.

We’ve got Lincoln Riley ready to pounce in Year 2 and Coach Prime ready to get Ralphie rolling. We’ve got Dan Lanning coming into his own in Eugene and Kenny Dillingham shedding the training wheels in the desert. We’ve got Jedd Fisch trying to make Tucson relevant again and Troy Taylor bringing peace and love to Palo Alto.

In addition to some of the best individual talent that college football has to offer, the conference is coming off a season in which 5 programs won 10 games, the most in the country. Forget the 3 Heisman winners: those same 5 schools — USC, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State State and defending champion Utah — all think they can vie for the conference’s first College Football Playoff berth since 2016.

With all that good, how can we focus on the bad?


Well, because it’s that bad.

How is it possible that the Pac-12 enters August without a media rights deal presented to its members? The past 13 months have been one continuous comedy of errors for Pac-12 brass. George Kliavkoff is Sideshow Bob in a field of rakes.

The conference and its 9 remaining constituents have no one to blame but themselves for turning this whole thing into a mock-worthy farce. You don’t see people laughing at the ACC, and Florida State is ready to jump ship at a moment’s notice.

College football is an optics game, and the Pac-12’s glasses have been foggy for months.

It’s too late for the league to save face at this point. Now it’s just hoping to save itself.


Which makes August such an important month for the Pac-12.

As fall camps open across the conference this week, ironically the only thing that might save the Pac-12 is the Pac-9.

Of the 9 remaining teams, just under half enter the season with championship aspirations. Lord knows the conference has turned to the likes of Washington — the league’s last CFP squad — and Oregon — its best team since the end of the 2000s — in the past.

More than ever, the Ducks and Huskies must be on their games, and it wouldn’t hurt for Arizona to take the step that many are predicting this year.

If Nix and Penix and Co. keep the spotlight on themselves and not on the walls that are crumbling around them, the league might just save itself.

Of course, that’s a big if.

Only one thing is for certain. It’s time to get back to football, baby.