The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

COMMENTARY: I’ll miss the Pac-12

Saying goodbye
Gesa Field at Martin Stadium ahead of WSU and Colorado’s bout, Nov. 17 in Pullman, Wash.

The final Pac-12 regular season games have been played. Rivalries are finished in their traditional sense. Most Pac-12 matchups do not have a clear path to happen outside of postseason play going forward. Pac-12 After Dark is not coming back, and I am sad. 

This season, the 2023 season, was my third watching WSU football as a student. I saw a perfectly average team over the past three seasons. In my time, the Cougs rocked a 19-19 record, made two bowl games and lost both. But I saw some great football. 

My favorite Pac-12 memory will stand the test of time. In 2021, my freshman year, I traveled to Seattle to watch the Apple Cup. I saw pure WSU domination. I still remember my pure elation after the third quarter ended. WSU held a 23-7 lead and I could feel it, I knew that Wazzu was going to walk out with the win. 

That was the first time I had rushed to the field. I had so many emotions and I would not trade the experience of an Apple Cup victory for anything. While the Apple Cup is set to continue, it will not be the same. 

In 2022, I saw an absolute thriller in Oregon vs. WSU. I watched from the press box, gearing up to write a column based on something that I picked out from the game. I thought I was going to write a piece about how the Cougs were here, a statement win. But in the last five minutes, it all fell apart.

As I look back in retrospect, it was a fantastic game. As a supporter of WSU it sucked, it sucked bad. But, as a fan of college football, it rocked. 

This season, I’ve been a part of every home game, taking photos on the sidelines. I saw fans rush the field twice, huge ranked wins against Oregon State and Wisconsin. It looked like a magical season was brewing. 

While that did not happen, traveling to Autzen Stadium and Husky Stadium to watch the Cougs take on the Ducks and Huskies has been fantastic despite losses. WSU fought in both those matches, with the final Apple Cup in Pac-12 play coming down to the final five seconds, the most stress-inducing, high-stakes game that the Pac-12 has been great for. 

But my history with the Pac-12 goes far beyond the past three seasons. 

I grew up in Vancouver, Washington. It is a perfect center point of a lot of Pac-12 action. It is close enough to Oregon State, Oregon, Washington and WSU to be a fan of any of those teams. While I had some fandom for the Cougs from the family legacy, I watched most of Oregon football.

If I grew up now, I would not be watching these four local schools duke it out. I would either need to being a fan of Big Ten football or a fan of a confusing future in terms of conference stability. 

Maybe I would not have the same positive memories of Marcus Mariota’s Heisman campaign. Maybe I would not remember watching College Gameday come to Pullman and wanting an absolute shootout from the two schools I rooted for. Maybe I would not fall in love with LaMichael James.

I would not come to love the history of Pac-12. I watched old highlights of the teams that I watched play the Cougs every year to get a better understanding of the stakes of each game. 

But one of the things I will miss the most is Pac-12 After Dark. Living on the West Coast, it was nice to watch late-night college football. It really helped me get through my homework in high school when I had something to watch while I worked. 

There was something about it, something about those late-night games that brought out the craziest situations. 

Since the beginning of the College Football Playoff era, every season it has felt like the Pac-12 has teams that could compete in the format and for the National Championship, but every season, they beat each other. They knocked each other out of the playoff. But that made it more special to me. 

From top to bottom, no other Conference had the parody the Pac-12 has. It has made every matchup interesting. Just look at this past week. UW came into the Apple Cup 11-0 and ranked in the top five. WSU came in 5-6, losers of six straight at some point. Still, the final score was 24-21 and it came down to the last play, which is special, and that is the Pac-12. 

To the Pac-12, I will miss you. I will miss the fun games that were always brought out by these schools, the locality of the teams and the fun rivalries. I will miss the good of the Conference, I will not miss the referees (man, they sucked). 

All this goodbye, but this is just Pac-12 football. I will also miss you, Pac-12 volleyball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, baseball and more, I will miss you all.

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.