Ray Anderson: Pac-12 must fight perception it doesn’t care about football
The Pac-12 became the last Power Five conference to flip the switch on a college football season in 2020 when it announced on Thursday a six-game regular season would begin on Nov. 6 and conclude with the Pac-12 Championship Game on Dec. 19.
Being the final Power Five conference to kick-off, the Pac-12 faced criticism about not being as committed to playing football as other conferences, a sentiment Arizona State’s Atheltic Director Ray Anderson strongly denied when he joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday.
“It’s frustrating for all of us who know that’s not the truth, and certainly our student-athletes and coaches want to get out there and compete,” Anderson said.
Anderson notes the Pac-12 had unique challenges, not only with local guidelines surrounding the coronavirus pandemic but also wildfires that impacted the coastal states.
“It’s not just the presidents, the chancellors or the governors saying ‘Hey, it’s ok, you’re free to go’,” Anderson said. “You got to go all the way down to county authorities, who are much more, very frankly, conservative in some cases or just much more difficult to deal with for reasons they believe are justified, and nobody is saying they are not.”
He also added the perception is unfairly used against Commissioner Larry Scott, who Anderson says has done a fine job leading the conference during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately it’s also used as a club against our sometimes-embattled Larry Scott, as if he has a conference that is made up of chancellors and presidents and administrators and leaderships that don’t care as much about football,” Anderson said. “That is not true, but that is kind of the general perception.”
So where does changing that perception start now that the season has a kick-off date?
For Anderson, it’s on the field.
The Pac-12 hasn’t had a participant in the College Football Playoff since Washington lost to Alabama in 2016. The conference’s record in bowl games over the past three seasons is 8-15, with a damaging 1-8 showing in 2018.
“We’ve got to fight our way through (that perception) and that will be accomplished once you start winning much more consistently on the football field,” Anderson said. “We think we have programs on the verge of doing that, very frankly, including our own.”
Anderson believes the schedule will be released within the next several days.