Well that all happened fast...
As of Friday, ESPN is reporting that Oregon and Washington are both finalizing their moves to join the Big Ten, which would have them begin for the 2024 season as a full-time member. The addition of USC and UCLA prior to the group of Big Ten teams already should allow the mid-west(?) based conference to form it’s own mix of teams from the West Coast,
Of course, like anything else in the world, the motive behind this deal is the almighty dollar - and plenty of it - as the now eons long saga of the “Conference of Champions” - has ended with the Pac-12 showing it’s member schools a lackluster media streaming deal with Apple TV, a far cry from the ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN and FOX’s of the world.
It also seems that Arizona will be joining it’s friends over at Colorado and exit for the Big 12, and yes, while nothing it set in stone yet, there’s really not much reason for the Wildcats to return to the mix, with everyone but their old rival at Arizona State leaving them with ties to the conference. However, the Sun Devils, as well as Utah are also being linked to a potential move away from the league, but like all the rest, take those with a grain of salt until something real substantiates.
So what now for the Pac-12?
For once, it seems like the league can’t just walk this one off and they’ll have some real questions to answer as the programs left behind will not only need substantial income to continue to proceed at a high level, but also a commitment from both friends and foes to what the league can become. Is the easiest thought some sort of merger with the Mountain West? The second conference of choice that sits mostly past the Rocky Mountains? Possibly. But Mountain West schools will struggle to bolt with ESPN reporting a “$32 million exit fee per (MW) school to leave before the start of the 2025 football season”.
So scratch that idea for now. While we can guess and estimate and predict and lie to ourselves all we want, we don’t hold the cards for the future of the Pac-12 and we don’t dictate what comes next. However, is the Pac-12 as we know it officially dead?
So it seems, my friends. So it seems.