UCLA's Chip Kelly says Pac-12’s realignment 'awkward'
August 24, 2022
UCLA coach Chip Kelly has said his program's plan to leave the Pac-12 by 2024 creates an "awkward" situation in the conference.
Other than UCLA, Southern California is also leaving the Pac-12 by the same year. The last time a major change occurred in the conference was in 2011 when Colorado and Utah joined in.
“It’s an awkward situation for everybody,” Kelly said.
It is unclear whether the Pac 12 will continue to lose its schools, expand, or remain with ten teams as college football realignment continue to take place. That said, the conference has made it clear it is still aiming for another College Football Playoff appearance.
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Aiming for another national title
The conference has so far only sent two teams through the CFP. It has not sent any since Washington lost to Alabama in the 2017 national semifinals. The last time the conference won a national title was in 2005 via USC.
The Pac-12 biggest chance to claim another national title would be through Utah, Oregon, and USC, who made it to the preseason AP Top 25. Utah is ranked seventh, Oregon 11th, and USC 14th.
“This conference has been really deep and it’s really hard to run the table in this conference,” Stanford coach David Shaw said.
“Maybe other conferences it’s easier playing eight conference games, maybe the conference is not quite as deep. You have three games to get up for every year. Our conference, if you slip up, you’re going to get beat.”
Utah is currently the fan favorite to win the Pac-12 championship, as they did one year ago. Among the reason is the return of quarterback Cameron Rising.
Rising recorded 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns with five interceptions as a sophomore. Rising almost led the Utes to defeat Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. Unfortunately, he was sidelined after being sacked too hard. The Buckeyes came out victorious 48-45.
Rising, who completed almost 64 percent of his passes last season, has been training to increase his arm strength to take more deep shots this season.
“Cam means so much to our football team,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Off the field, he’s the leader of the leaders, the alpha dog of our team, really sets the standard. You couldn’t ask for a better leader.”
The Pac-12's next best chance to snatch another national triumph is via the USC Trojans, who finished 4-8 last season when the program fired coach Clay Helton following an early-season loss to Stanford.
Replacing Helton is Lincoln Riley. To accompany him, USC has acquired 24 veteran transfers, including Pitt’s Jordan Addison and Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams,
“You don’t come to USC and you don’t come to Los Angeles to do things small. You got to set your sights big,” Riley said.
“I don’t think it’s too much. I don’t. I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in what we’re teaching. I believe in the people we have here.”
Lastly, the Pac-12 next best shot would be via the Oregon Ducks, who recently replaced coach Mario Cristobal with Dan Lanning. Cristobal departed from the team for Miami.
Oregon recently secured Bo Nix from Auburn. He is currently competing with redshirt freshmen Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield for the starting quarterback spot.
“I feel like we have the talent to be competitive in the games we’re going to play in,” said Lanning, who was a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Georgia.
“Doesn’t mean we have to play our best game every single week, but we want to improve. I want to see measured growth.”