Media day is always an exciting time for fans of teams, conferences, and just sports in general, both professional and collegiate. This past Tuesday, the Pac-12 held their official 2021 Media day. And whereas every season has its storylines, transfers, suspensions, and other general questions. This year’s media day, in the fashion of the past 2 years, had a whole other level of interest and a new set of questions. Mainly focusing around the 2 biggest headlines in college sports, Oklahoma and Texas’s move to the SEC, and the College Football Expansion proposal.
New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff was asked about his goals for the upcoming year. He focused on the importance of both a successful Football and Men’s Basketball campaign. Especially important for the conference is getting a Football team into the College Football Playoffs. A feat that has not been achieved since Washington’s shocking campaign in 2016. Getting a Football team to play on the grand stage is vital to restoring greatness to the conference.
It is hard to find someone in College Football that is not talking about either expansion or realignment. When asked about the SEC expansion, Kliavkoff had a unique perspective, by stating he feels the move "strengthens our unique position as the only Power Five conference with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones." He continued with "we do not think expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive".
Realizing the implications of his last statement, Kliavkoff made sure to keep the door to expansion open for the Pac-12, "That said, the fallout from Texas and Oklahoma allows us to once again consider expansion, and we've already had significant inbound interest from many schools," Kliavkoff stated. "We will work with our presidents and chancellors
to evaluate these opportunities.
Another hot topic discussed this past Tuesday was vaccination. Particularly with the absence of Washington State Head Coach Nick Rolovich. Rolovich was not physically present this Tuesday after expressing his decision to not receive the Covid-19 vaccine, although he did attend the event remotely. When asked about his team's vaccination rate Rolovich said his team is at, “roughly at 75
The league has stated that all unvaccinated players will undergo regular testing for Covid-19, regardless of symptoms. Although an official forfeiture policy has not been announced, many within the organization believe that any team that can not put a full squad on the field will be forced to forfeit that game. A policy they hope will encourage more players, coaches, and staff to receive the vaccine.
The 2021-2022 College Athletics campaign will be full of many questions and storylines. Many of them are very similar to last year’s season, surrounding the pandemic and how it will affect the upcoming season. But with major realignment and expansion questions on everyone’s mind, it feels like this year will carry a little more controversy than last year’s.