What’s in a name? In college football, everything. Just ask the Buffs.

Colorado Buffaloes mascot Chip is run onto Folsom Field before a game against the Washington Huskies. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you thought the Pac-12 was slipping – like maybe it didn’t belong in the crème de la crème of college football elite – it’s about to do the most college football thing ever.

Decide its best team anywhere and everywhere but on the field.

In case you haven’t been following, CU and USC are both undefeated. They’ll both play this weekend, and even in the event they both win, it will be the Trojans who get to compete in the Pac-12 Championship Game, not the Buffs. There will be no decision to send the conference’s best two teams, only the call to play the North versus the South, per usual.

If you’re looking for logic, you won’t find any. The team from Southern California will advance and the one from Boulder won’t – on a technicality, some “policy” the conference decided before they actually started to play. If you want to skip all the research, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post wrote an excellent summation of this short-sighted decision.

Remember, the Pac-12 wasn’t going to play at all this season until it realized that everyone else was, and that they’d be missing out on a lot of dough. How in the world it took them until late September to change their mind is the stuff of legend.

Nonetheless, “Play on,” they said eventually. So much for taking the hard (see “safe”) stance as was originally planned. Since summer, the Pac-12 has waffled more than a Kellogg’s Eggo, but on this particular issue, they’ve decided to stick to their guns. Ironically, the lone reason the Buffs have become a victim of technicality, resides with USC, who couldn’t play CU as scheduled. Too many COVID cases for the Trojans and a willingness from the Buffs to pick up an out of conference game just to keep things moving along. So much for being the nice (and healthy) guy.

Throughout the pandemic, corporations and sports leagues alike have had to accept that what’s always been done will likely not be the way anyone gets through this mess. Concepts like “flexibility” and “fluidity” and “do-watch-a-gotta-do” have taken precedence over rules, tradition and structure. But for some reason, the Pac-12 would rather base it’s entire (pathetic) football season on a vote that took place months ago with absolutely no context.

That’s convenient, because what the conference is really doing is playing favorites. USC, with all its gameday pageantry, tradition and 17 national titles, is better for business. It’s one of, if not the, golden child of the conference. USC has been around – heck, it helped to build the Pac-12.

And CU? Well, thanks, Buffs, for bringing in the Denver television market (unless you have DirecTV, of course). And double thanks for being Utah’s travel partner.

The Buffs are getting buffaloed because they’re the Buffs. Any other excuse is buffalo sh**.

And with all due respect to everyone at the University of Colorado, the Buffs aren’t the Trojans. Not in the eyes of the conference, anyway.

But that’s college football in a nutshell. Just look at the current College Football Playoff Rankings – there’s no way in hell a no-name school, no matter what they’ve done in this maze of a season, will factor into the real playoffs. At best, they’ll get to go to one of those bowl games that nobody attends (hey, at least that won’t be a change this season).

If you’re Coastal Carolina, why even bother?

Cincinnati, a solid program, is getting shafted worse than the Buffs. They’ve been leapfrogged by Iowa State, a Big 12 school. The math that illustrates just how backwards this is can be learned in grade school; yet, the people who run college football refuse to use such simple calculations.

They’re not dumb. They’re just looking at numbers that have nothing to do with football and everything to do with ratings and, ultimately, revenue. It’s the same logic that’s preventing a CU-USC Pac-12 Championship Game, or that’s telling the conference to keep those “rivalry” games intact. You know how pumped you get to see the age-old battle between the Utes and Buffaloes; come to think of it, that’s been a rivalry before the West was even won. Or did you think I was talking about USC-UCLA?

And hey Buffs, how is it that you’re the only team without a loss outside the Top-15?

Simple. It’s all in a name.

Just as the Pac-12 doesn’t value yours, the rest of the college football world currently doesn’t value your conference either.

And when your conference makes decisions like the one they’ll likely make after you beat Utah, the Pac-12’s name might as well be Mud.

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