Despite Benefitting Big 12, Mike Gundy Says Pac-12’s Fall from Grace Is ‘Heartbreaking’

Mike Gundy might reap the benefits of the Pac-12’s demise, but it’s still a little upsetting for a football traditionalist to witness the collapse of a historical the conference.

Saturday night, Oklahoma State will travel to Tempe to play Arizona State, which will leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12 after this academic year. Colorado started the Pac-Big 12 pipeline June 27 by announcing its return to the Big 12 after 12 years in the Pac-12. Then the dominoes tumbled.

Within a week, Arizona State, Arizona and Utah followed Colorado from the Pac-12 to the Big 12. Within that timeframe, Washington and Oregon bolted for the Big Ten. After over two months of desperation, California and Stanford found a new home on the other side of the country with the ACC. This whole mess was ultimately prompted from USC and UCLA announcing last summer they were leaving the conference for the Big Ten in 2024.

After a summer of chaos, Washington State and Oregon State are the only members of the Pac-12 left, leaving the conference left for dead in 2024. With the Arizona State matchup on deck, Sellout Crowd’s Guerin Emig asked Gundy at Monday’s media luncheon about the dissolve of the Pac-12.

“I’m sympathetic,” Gundy said. “It breaks my heart for Oregon State and Washington State.

“Oregon State, that guy [Jonathan Smith] has done a good job. When we played them out there a few years ago, we could tell that they were getting better. And then, I think they’re ranked now. I don’t pay attention to it. And they built a new stadium or redid their stadium and all that. It’s just heartbreaking. But it’s a tough deal.”

The college football world already got a preview of what’s to come in the new Big 12 last week when TCU and Colorado competed in what is sure to be one of the most entertaining games of the year.

Saturday night will be the first taste of that Big 12 After Dark timeslot. It will be 9:30 p.m. in Stillwater when the Cowboys and Sun Devils kick off. The new Big 12 will span from the Mountain Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. That means if West Virginia or Cincinnati has to travel to Tempe and play in that late slot, it’ll be 10:30 p.m. back home for kickoff.

The pros outweigh the cons, though. Actually, that extra timeslot is a benefit for the Big 12 to look prettier for TV networks who pay the bills. Survival was the biggest thing for the Big 12, as it looked to be on life support like the current Pac-12 when Texas and OU announced their departures. Raiding the Pac-12 jolted the conference back to life and thriving.

These aren’t programs limping out of the Pac-12 for new homes either. Although the Pac-12 has been at the bottom of the Power 5 pecking order recently, it’s the only Power 5 conference without a loss after Week 1 this season. That included wins over TCU and Florida from future Big 12 members Colorado and Utah, respectively. Six Pac-12 teams were included in the most recent AP Top 25.

“We had a couple of teams that are coming into our league that had some pretty impressive wins,” Gundy said. “Good for the Big 12.”

Gundy has been a positive advocate for Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and how he’s transformed the conference.

So I guess a word for Gundy about the Pac-12’s fallout would be bittersweet. He insinuated he’s sad to see a conference with such rich tradition disappear, but he, OSU and the Big 12 are getting full from the carcass of the Pac-12.

“I guess the Rose Bowl is gonna go away, but it’s hard for me to not think the Rose Bowl is coming on at 4 o’clock (on New Year’s Day), and the Big Ten and Pac-12 is gonna play in the game and the sun’s gonna set,” Gundy said. “It’s hard for me to not feel that.

“I’m not a big fan of anything going on, but I don’t have anything to do with it. It’s gonna happen. It doesn’t make a difference what I think. But it is very unusual. It’s just hard to think that Stanford is gonna go play a league game in Miami at some point. It’s just hard. But it’s the way it is.”

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