By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: West Coast losing athletic traditions

The 2023 word for college athletics is realignment. Let’s start with some history of the Pac-12 Conference, now in final disintegration stages of a cultural embarrassment.

West Coast college athletics as we know them today started in 1915 when the Pacific Coast Conference was formed by the universities of California, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State. By 1928 they had been joined by Washington State, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Idaho and Montana.

The PCC was disbanded in 1959 due to pay-to-play scandals. After several years of turmoil and reorganization, all original PCC schools except Idaho and Montana had created the Pacific-8. That conference became the Pac-10 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State in 1978, and the Pac-12 when Colorado and Utah joined in 2010.

Thus, in the expansive world of West Coast college athletics, we’ve had four generations of commonalities in life experiences, local/regional loyalties, entertainment and lively lifelong rivalries. Since 1946, the season-long goal of those teams has been to represent the Pacific Coast against the Midwest (Big 10) in the Rose Bowl.

My own view of college sports is rooted in “good old days” mentality where vagaries of the heart are as important as the annual bottom line. As all can see, however, today’s only real driver of power-conference college athletics is money, and the Rose Bowl is just another venue in the Bowl Championship Series.

The irony of that reality drips heavily in this comment on

“A few short decades ago, TV money built the Power 5 as we know it. But by the time college football season kicks off in a few weeks, the obsessive pursuit of TV money will have driven Power 5 schools to destroy the current system altogether.”

This summer, after years of conference miscalculations, 10 Pac-12 schools decided to jump ship next year in search of some big-money lifeboats. Oregon, Washington, UCLA and USC are headed to the Big 10; Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado will join the Big 12; and most recently, California and Stanford signed on with the Atlantic Athletic Conference.

That leaves Oregon State and Washington State most likely having to step down in athletic stature to the Mountain West Conference, while other West Coast schools penalize their players’ families, students and fans with multi-thousand-mile trips required for away events.

It’s a damn shame. Here’s hoping OSU and WSU can maneuver a way to retain Pac-12 assets and rebuild a conference that can return region-based college athletics to the West Coast.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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