Pac-12 fans deserve better.

Unfortunately, the Pac-12 executive committee and two fumbling conference commissioners in a row, do not.

The proud Conference of Champions remains a college jewel, or does it?

And for how long?

When Colorado’s administration reportedly decided on Wednesday to pursue membership in the Big 12 and bolt the Pac-12, it signaled a puddle of chaos and fracture of unity for the league. The move became official on Thursday.

With USC and UCLA headed for the Big Ten after this coming season and Colorado reportedly returning to its roots in the Big 12, doors have been opened for other entities to become predators or members to shop around.

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With no apparent Pac-12 offer to San Diego State or SMU at the moment, and putting SDSU in a real pickle with the Mountain West, this is a league that is showing little creativity, backbone or leadership.

It couldn’t pull off adding Texas and Oklahoma in 2010.

The timeline that’s followed has been a disaster. 

It couldn’t keep USC and UCLA and the Los Angeles market, and now Colorado will take its 17th-largest TV market in the U.S. to its former haunts in the Midwest.

Failure to jump on TV rights, not negotiating early and having the Big 12’s rookie commissioner Brett Yormark jump the line and get a $2.3 billion media contract last October, checked more boxes of ineptitude.

It forced Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff to scramble as leads thinned out through a bad market for doing collegiate deals with ESPN, Fox and other linear platforms.

It forced the league into a defensive public relations posture, which led to failed promises and unmet deadlines all through the winter and spring.  

It forced the leaders at Pac-12 schools to release a pact of unity — promising fans a new media contract would be “consummated” soon. While it appears Colorado’s departure shattered that peace accord, it was a maneuver presidents had to do to keep media negotiations afloat and fans fed from a positive trough.

The past year of flailing around, losing several chief Pac-12 administrative deputies and paying back $50 million for overcharging Comcast during a COVID-19 cancellation season has been embarrassing. 

When UCLA pulled out of the 2021 Holiday Bowl five hours before kickoff, the bowl filed a $3 million suit against the Board of Regents. 

What kind of leadership allows this kind of malfeasance of a member when bowl contracts are in place?

Having to refit the expensive and overpriced league headquarters in downtown San Francisco and move to a more sane venue also hurt. Thanks, Larry Scott.

Most expert Pac-12 watchers declared the league must have a media contract deal to announce by last week at the league’s football media day in Las Vegas.

It didn’t come.

There were no numbers to share with folks like Colorado’s athletic director and president.

This all led to this week, where Colorado had had enough. After losing a reported $70 million since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs decided to graze in other pastures.

Sure, Colorado has not been a juggernaut in the Pac-12. The Buffs have struggled.

But the Colorado departure story is more about the big picture. It’s the sum of all events that really hurts. Colorado’s departure is a gateway event. 

It gives permission to other schools to seek expansion developments in or out of the Big 12 because they can no longer be blamed for the destabilization of the Pac-12.

Colorado’s departure, added to USC and UCLA leaving, becomes part of a bigger Pac-12 scene. 

Dwindling numbers in stadiums at Cal and Stanford is hard to offset with the packed and passionate fans at Rice-Eccles and Autzen.

By not being prepared to expand this summer, and being prevented from doing so by not having a TV deal in place, the Pac-12 literally stabbed San Diego State in the back and left a powerful potential TV market stranded and embarrassed.

If it’s been this hard to get a TV deal done since the Big 12 signed its new pact in October 2022 after four short months of negotiations, how tough will it be to get one with just nine teams left?

Try to figure out how any of this is the fault of Pac-12 fans and supporters.

You cannot.

It is all at the feet of the league’s leadership and executive council — commissioners, presidents and chancellors.

The arrogance, elitism and puffery have clouded common sense and wisdom in a profession that’s supposed to be led by leaders of education.  

Didn’t Stanford’s president just step down for failing to correct data manipulation in a published study?

Getting expansion candidates right, keeping members happy, managing bowl and TV contracts and real estate deals all seem to be extremely tough for Pac-12 brain trusts. 

Well, the league still has its “research institution” emphasis going for it.

Go figure.