Is Doomsday Coming For The Pac-12?
Some recent stories paint a bleak picture of the conference’s future following reports that the Big Ten could pursue more Pac-12 schools for conference expansion and that other universities in the conference could leave for the Big 12 after realignment .
See what college writers are saying about the Pac-12 and its long-term viability as a conference.
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Pete Mundo of Heartland College Sports writes: “It’s over. The Pac-12 is over. And if you’re from Colorado, you should know that feeling all too well. One of the reasons the Buffaloes put the Big 12 on was because they were worried that if the Big 12 was collapsing, they had no league mates to go to. They were alone on an island. Well, Colorado is basically back there. And while some in Colorado’s administration may think of the Big 12 as a JUCO league, the reality is that they’d be lucky to get back into the conference at this point. I think we should welcome them back with open arms, and if Arizona, Arizona State and Utah are smart, they’ll start looking east as well. In that point, the only benefit for the four corner schools to not leave the Big 12 is to not be blamed for the Pac-12’s eventual demise.”
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Brett McMurphy told the Paul Finebaum Show: “It wasn’t long before we had six [automatic qualifying] conferences. The so-called conferences of power then. The Big East was one of those six and what happened, they got raided by the ACC and now we’re stuck in the Power Five. I think the same will unfortunately happen with the Pac-12. They will lose four schools from the Big Ten. And then I think four schools from the Pac-12, the Arizona, Utah and Colorado schools, get a lifeline to go to the Big 12. Then there will be no more Pac-12 and then we’ll be left with four power conferences. Although realistically there are only two.”
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Outkick’s David Hookstead writes: “Will the PAC-12 be around in a few years? That question is being asked more and more as reports mount that the Big Ten plans to chase many more teams and most survivors will flee for the Big 12. Currently, USC and UCLA are slated to join the B1G in 2024. At first, it looked like the PAC-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff had stopped the immediate bleeding and the conference could be held. Granted, it looked like it would hold as a feeble shell of himself but hold on nonetheless.’
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Pete Mundo of Heartland College Sports writes, “There are three parties responsible for the eventual collapse of the Pac-12: The Big Ten, USC and UCLA. That was it. His anger at the Big 12 was always misplaced and foolish. When the obituary As the Pac-12 is written, the Big 12 may have a footnote of being the final nail in the coffin, but the actual existence of the Pac-12 was dead long before that. And where Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah remain to be seen until the obituaries. But they will be able to write their own way if they choose to.”
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Pistols Firing’s Marshall Scott writes: “It’s hard to imagine, given the choice, Oregon choosing the Big 12 over the Big Ten (just look at that TV deal), but if the Ducks were to fly to the Big Ten, The domino effect could push Arizona, Utah and Colorado schools further into Big 12 discussions. … So while Oregon may be more likely to go to the Big Ten than the Big 12 it moment, the next set of dominoes may come soon.”
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Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Borba writes, “All of this is happening as the Pac-12 is still in the middle of their media rights negotiations, but if they lose one more school, you might as well kiss the conference goodbye. Not only is there the Pac-12 schools on the Big Ten’s radar, but schools like Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State have generated interest from the Big 12. The Big Ten continues to be on the offensive side and increases toward 20 teams, while the Pac-12 who are used to the position of the tail between their legs is on some kind of defense.”
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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 defended against Big Ten and SEC raids; Pac-12 franchise agreement 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 situation is unprecedented. Any statement from the Big Ten on further expansion, whether it’s from commissioner Kevin Warren or an anonymous source, is seen as a direct threat to the survival of the Pac-12.”
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Outkick’s David Hookstead writes: “If Oregon officially makes the jump to the Big Ten, the PAC-12 is in serious trouble. As I’ve speculated in the past, the only thing holding the conference together at this point is Washington and Oregon to hold firm. Once one or both of those programs are gone, the race will be on for the lifeboats. Schools will be jostling for a safe landing spot as the PAC-12 breaks up, and many of them will likely end up in the Big 12 as the top teams go to the Big Ten. Once the first domino falls, fans will almost certainly see the PAC-12 fall apart in a very short time. We are in a truly unprecedented era of college football, and anyone who says with absolute certainty that The all we know right now is that Oregon and the Big Ten are in serious discussions, and that should panic the rest of the PAC-12.”
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Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News writes: “Four things could be equally true: The Big Ten’s contract could contain a massive expansion escalator clause … And Oregon’s representatives could be in talks with the Big Ten … And the Four Corners schools may see the Big 12 as a viable option… And the Pac-12 may remain intact for the foreseeable future. From our vantage point, nothing has changed for the Pac-12 in the two weeks since news broke that ESPN would not be participating in the Big Ten’s next media rights deal, which begins the next summer. In theory, this was a positive development for the beleaguered conference: In the absence of Big Ten content on its networks, Disney would seem motivated to partner with the Pac-12.”
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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 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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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 collapse predicted amid Big Ten expansion, Big 12 realignment