The Pac-12 in coming weeks is expected to decide on whether it wants to expand or not as realignment takes shape, a particularly meaningful decision for what’s left of the Big 12 as schools look to the future. But the eight left behind may be in a more perilous position than previously thought.
Jon Wilner of Mercury News, widely viewed as the foremost expert on all things Pac-12, reported on Monday that though the league is indeed exploring whether to expand and that no decision has yet been made, the belief is that the Pac-12 remaining at 12 schools is viewed as “the most likely outcome.”
“No schools really add value,” a source not affiliated with the Pac-12 told Wilner.
For Oklahoma State, a leap from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 — outside of joining the Big Ten or the SEC — seems to be the option that’s most realistic and most viable for the school’s long-term health. The Pac-12 standing pat would mean OSU needs to look elsewhere.
Remaining in the Big 12 continues to be at least one path if no other conferences are willing to expand in the power structure, but remaining at eight seems unlikely for what’s left of the league as it is currently constituted, meaning a merger with the AAC or adding schools from the AAC for when the TV rights deal is up in 2025 could be possible.
One reason to believe the Pac-12 could expand centers around the idea of the need for it to strengthen its standing in the hierarchy of college football. In television value it ranks last of the SEC/Big Ten/ACC. So expanding the league’s footprint and thus its visibility by adding Big 12 schools would at least address some of those concerns. However, that doesn’t appear to be a priority right now, and coupled with the likely formation of an alliance between the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC, the need to expand at least for now does not seem an urgent matter.
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