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The Last of the Pac-12: Episode One - Ode of Remembering

This is it. This is the last time. Generations after us will need us to remember what was and what will always be.

Washington v Cal
Don James studies his opponent
Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Bathed in the glow of stadium lights, amidst a setting sun and the pulse of heightened drama, a roaring tide of intoxicated football aficionados reverberates through the air. Whether it’s the deep hues of an Arizona sunset, the soft embrace of the Los Angeles zephyr, or the poetic touch of Seattle’s delicate mist, one is compelled to stand still and imagine what was once inconceivable.

The titans of the original Pac-8 are on the move, drifting away from the familiar shores of the Pac-12. And in their wake, they leave behind a legacy that was once synonymous with champions. Is it destined to be relegated to the annals of history, spoken of only in the past tense?

I was but a boy of seven when the Huskies of ‘09, rising from the ashes of the calamitous ‘08 season, tasted sweet victory against USC in the heart of Seattle. In the uncertain years of early high school, my heart raced as Kelsey Plum led the Huskies into the lion’s den in Maryland. There, right before my eyes sitting right next to a high school Senior named Marquelle Fultz at College Park, they clinched a monumental triumph over one of women’s basketball’s formidable giants, paving their path to the coveted Final Four.

NCAA BASKETBALL: DEC 18 Women’s - Savannah State at Washington
Washington’s #10 Kelsey Plum sets up on defense during an NCAA women’s basketball game between the Savannah State Tigers
Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Years earlier, in the comforting expanse of my great-grandparents’ home in Phoenix, a memory was etched into my soul. On their grand television screen, a young Jake Locker seemed to defy gravity, launching himself over a defender in a spectacle of sheer athleticism and audacity. Such moments are the legacy, the stories we carry, and the testament to the undying spirit of the game.

In the electric tapestry of collegiate sports, it isn’t just about the Huskies. Reminiscing about the year WSU recently stood at the precipice of being a one-loss sensation might age me squarely within the embrace of Generation Z. However, let our minds wander further back, to the vibrant canvas of 2003 in the Pac-10. A year when the Cougars roared in triumph, conquering an Oregon squad still basking in the afterglow of their mighty conquest over Michigan. And for those seasoned Arizona Wildcats enthusiasts, the memory of the 1994 Fiesta Bowl win against Miami is no fleeting moment. It wasn’t just a match; it was a declaration. A stinging reminder that the Pac-12 wasn’t just some middling assembly of sports teams. No, it was – and forever will be – the foundation upon which countless legacies have been built.

But that’s the essence of sports, isn’t it? Whether it’s football, volleyball, basketball, or beyond – they are not just games. They are sanctuaries. A refuge we dive into, and later, a treasure trove of tales we regale our offspring with. Wander past what once was your own sanctuary as though it were your old bedroom and let a soft chuckle escape as you share tales of glory and heartbreak with the next generation.

National Championship - Oregon v Ohio State Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

This series aims to be a testament to that very sentiment. A tangible homage to the breathtaking moments embedded in the annals of college sports. From the stoic resilience of Don James in Seattle, the electrifying prowess of Marcus Mariota in Oregon, to the relentless spirit of Utah continually outfoxing USC. Every fragment has a home here. Each article in this series is akin to that cherished bedroom, or a picture frame – a place where memories come alive, waiting to be showcased with pride.

It began as a personal journey, retracing the footsteps of my past, imbued with the indomitable spirit of Husky pride. Yet, no matter the storm, the Huskies remain steadfast, evergreen in spirit and determination; for that is the nature of our pack. However, as we stride forward, it’s imperative that we also clutch onto a fragment of the Pac-12 in the crevices of our hearts.

USC v California Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

This year, it’s the end of an era. The curtains are drawing to a close. A final bow on a stage that has witnessed legends, heartbreaks, triumphs, and tales of undying resolve. The air is thick with anticipation, with questions hanging in the balance. Who will etch their name as the final champion of this illustrious league? As the sun sets on the Pac-12 horizon, we brace ourselves for the grand finale. The last hurrah. The ultimate testament to a legacy that has shaped so many stories, including mine.

My chest swells with the raw emotion of the circumstance but will you join me in making it the best the world has ever seen? This is the Last of the Pac-12.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 22 Washington Spring Game Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images