What does the future hold for the Pac-12 Conference?
As speculation and rumors about college conference realignment and expansion continue to swirl, take a look at some burning questions facing the Pac-12 Conference and potential answers to those questions from colleges and conferences.
Keep coming back as we update this story with more key questions about the future of the Pac-12.
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Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News answered a question about the chances of the Pac-12 collapsing if Stanford, Cal, Washington and Oregon left for the Big Ten.
He wrote: “100 percent. In this scenario, a total of six schools would head to the Big Ten, and the Four Corners (Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah) would undoubtedly leave for the Big 12. Certainly, the conference could reform with Oregon State, Washington State and a number of schools in the Mountain West, but it would be the Pac-12 in name only.”
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Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports wrote: Regardless of any talk of the Big Ten, ESPN now has a chance to become somewhat of a “king” regarding these leagues. Each conference is eyeing the other’s schools in what could become the next big realignment story. Without a Big Ten deal, ESPN has theoretically freed up money to spend, as both conferences are currently in flux. The Pac-12 is desirable because ESPN wouldn’t have different games in the valuable “fourth window” — after 10 p.m. ET. The “Pac-12 After Dark” tag has been derided by some, but would be valuable to ESPN. In the extreme, it’s worth asking: Would ESPN now have an influence on which league survives this round of realignment? Word is already circulating that the Pac-12 — in the midst of its own media rights negotiations — may have to agree to a media rights contract that allows Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington to “out” if accessed from another conference. “
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Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News wrote: “But the Pac-12 and the ACC are vulnerable to future poaching, the former more than the latter: With a franchise deal that stretches to the mid-2030s, the ACC is better defends against incursions from Big Ten and SEC; Pac-12 franchise deal expires in two years. (That said, we think North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech could be on the Big Ten’s radar in the future based on a combination of academic clout, media value and recruiting pipelines.) The current state is unprecedented. Any statement from the Big Ten regarding further expansion, whether it’s from commissioner Kevin Warren or an anonymous source, is taken as a direct threat to the survival of the Pac-12.”
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Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News wrote: “Most likely, a decision to extend and the act of signing a new media rights agreement will unfold simultaneously. In our estimation, events will go one of two ways: — The Pac-12 signs an exclusive deal with ESPN, as a 10-school conference, in the next two or three weeks.— The Pac-12 is negotiating with multiple bidders on the open market and is carefully considering expansion in a process that consumes six- to eight weeks, if not longer.”
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Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Borba included San Diego State SMU, UNLV, Fresno State, Boise State and Houston on his list.
He wrote: “Thus it is vital that the Pac-12 adds at least two more teams, but the optimal number would be six. Getting back to the 12 is a must, but the conference needs to be on the offensive side of things for once and catch up with the Big 12 and ACC when it comes to putting together bigger mega-conferences. The Big Ten and SEC are already destined and able to form their mega-conference, everyone else is playing catch-up. Now granted, there aren’t teams out there that will bring the value and prestige that the conference lost with USC and UCLA, but more teams equals more markets, which equals more money.”
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Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren recently told Action Network’s Brett McMurphy that besides Notre Dame there are “a few schools” that the conference could potentially expand to. Sources said Pac-12 schools Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Cal were among the schools being considered by the Big Ten.
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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd writes: “CBS Sports reported last month that the Big Ten was evaluating California, Oregon, Stanford and Washington as possible future members of the league. Rights holders rejected the idea as they did not believe that the current Pac-12 schools would bring equal value to the league as USC and UCLA did when they were added. CBS Sports then reported that interest in those four schools had waned. However, adding those four schools would was creating additional inventory for the Big Ten, which could lead to ESPN getting a piece of the action.”
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Ryan Ford of the Detroit Free Press wrote: “Just hours after the Big Ten inked a mega-deal Thursday for its television rights to CBS, Fox and NBC starting in 2023 (give or take a season), its Regents University of California realized they might have some say in what conference UCLA will compete in, or at least some say in how many PT home games they can handle.”
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Baylor coach Dave Aranda recently made some headlines when he told the Waco Rotary: “I know there are still opportunities in our league (to expand) and potential suitors,” Aranda said. “I think it’s quite real and that’s what’s happening right now. There are discussions going on right now.”
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Sports Illustrated’s Timm Hamm wrote, “If the Big Ten gets aggressive about triggering the escalator clause in its new deal, it could target teams like Oregon and Washington. And if they jump on board, it would be tantamount to pulling the plug on a PAC-12 already on life support. That would open the door for the Big 12 to come calling schools looking for a new home. Schools like Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. That would It was a huge win for a Big 12 struggling to stay relevant after Texas and Oklahoma leave in 2025.”
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Contact Jeremy Cluff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.
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This article originally appeared in The Arizona Republic: Pac-12 alignment, live expansion updates, rumors, burning questions