KSL UNRIVALED

Should Utah Be The Face Of New Pac-12?

Dec 21, 2022, 9:47 AM | Updated: 9:47 am

Zemaiah Vaughn - Utah Utes vs. Oregon Ducks...

Oregon Ducks wide receiver Kris Hutson (14) loses his mouthguard as he is tackled by Utah Utes safety Zemaiah Vaughn (16) as Utah and Oregon play an NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Utah won 38-7. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Pac-12 is officially shrinking by two members now that it is official that UCLA and USC are going to the Big Ten after the 2024 season.

There is a lot that needs to be decided with the move like media rights and potential expansion now that the league has a more clear grasp on membership.

This now begs the question of who is the biggest brand within the Pac-12 – or will it be the Pac-10, again?

The easy answer seems to be the University of Utah since football is king and the Utes have been one of the most successful programs in the league. For starters, they are back-to-back conference champions and Rose Bowl participants and have been to four of the past five Pac-12 title games.

The one exception was the 2020 COVID-19 year when things were far from normal. Those four appearances are tied for second and behind Oregon’s five.

The Ducks do have four titles plus the Nike name behind them to help lead the charge, and then the Washington Huskies have the most recent playoff appearances within the conference. The Huskies did take a dip in the final year under Chris Petterson and the 2021 Jimmy Lake year was not great.

Will Utah Beat Out Oregon Or Washington?

Unrivaled’s Alex Kirry sways from the voting public and feels that it takes more than winning to be the future Pac-12 king.

“It is easy to say Utah, they won the past two Pac-12 championships in football and they are on this crazy trajectory,” Kirry said. “I just want to disagree with everyone who voted for Utah. Not because they don’t deserve it. Right now, they are the Pac-12 champion, but the face of the Pac-12 will not be Utah. The face of the Pac-12 will be Oregon or Washington.”

@kslsportscom #question from @kslsportscom Why #UtahFootball will NOT be the best in the #Pac12 once #USC and #UCLA leave. #GoUtes ♬ original sound – kslsportscom

Winning solves a lot and Utah has done that. However, it took the Utes years and years to get to this point where they are considered even fringe College Football Playoff contenders.

They still aren’t seen as this huge national brand, and in the Pac-12 it is a lot of flash with Oregon but the Utes have shown they are as good and at times better than the Ducks. Changing the narrative to be a big-time brand takes huge wins.

Utah has not won a New Year’s Six game in over a decade when they won the 2009 Sugar Bowl back in their Mountain West days. Just look at Clemson, they were nothing special until they broke through and started winning national titles under Dabo Swinney. Now, they get the utmost respect even in an ACC that isn’t all that great.

The Utes next step is to try to win the Rose Bowl against Penn State this season and build that into a playoff appearance. 

Until Utah does get a big-time win on the sport’s biggest stage, it just might be the flashy Oregon Duck uniforms from Nike that they change every week as the brand name team in the Pac-12.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p .m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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Should Utah Be The Face Of New Pac-12?