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College Football: The Pac-12 is dissolving. Where are the teams going?

College Football: The Pac-12 is dissolving. Where are the teams going?

For years, the conferences remained the same, and for decades the SEC dominated college football. But recently, things are shaking up. Many of the West Coast teams already left the Pac-12, and what remains of the conference is now on life support. So where are the teams going? And how will that play out in the standings among the remaining conferences? Will the SEC live on as the king of college football? Or will another conference emerge and create a new dynasty? Here’s where some of the teams have already landed, and our predictions for where the remaining programs will end up.

THE BIG TEN

USC and UCLA

USC and UCLA were the first teams to exit the Pac-12. Last summer, the two programs announced that they were moving to the Big Ten in 2024, sending shock waves through the NCAA. It’s clear that, for both schools, the move was based on money. USC and UCLA were unhappy with the payouts they were receiving from the Pac-12, and it’s rumored that they’ll get paid double that amount in the Big Ten — to the tune of around $60 million annually. It also helps that the Big Ten locked in a landmark TV deal in 2017 worth an estimated $2.65 billion over just six years. With this, the Big Ten is bringing in the most money overall – and that’s before they signed two new big-name teams. With so much cash to go around, the Midwestern conference has become a very tempting landing spot for future recruits.

University of Oregon and University of Washington

The University of Oregon and its rival, the University of Washington, are some of the most recent teams to jump ship. At the beginning of August, the schools announced they were both moving to the Big Ten, starting in the summer of 2024. Rob Mullens, UO’s director of intercollegiate athletics, said that the move will ensure “stability and exposure” for the universities. The instability of the Pac-12 that he’s referring to stems, in large part, from the Pac-12 commissioner’s inability to secure a viable TV deal. Another reason for the move is the exposure that it would provide both schools. The Big Ten is already a force to be reckoned with: It’s home to historic programs such as Michigan and Ohio State, as well as Oregon and Washington’s longtime rivals, USC and UCLA. With the addition of four premier west coast schools, the Big Ten is now the largest conference in the US with a monumental 18 total teams.

THE BIG 12

Colorado

In late July, Colorado was the first to follow USC and UCLA in announcing that it would be leaving the Pac-12 and moving to the Big 12 in 2024. The move comes after much concern about a lack of a new media contract or interest from broadcast networks. But the Big 12 welcomes back its former conference member; after losing Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, the Big 12 commissioner, Brett Yormark, has been very clear that his conference is ready to make offers.

Utah, Arizona and Arizona State

Hours after Oregon and Washington’s move to the Big Ten, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State were accepted into the Big 12. With the additions of these Four Corner schools, the Big 12 will now swell to 16 total teams in 2024. Like its Big Ten counterparts, the move was motivated by stability, exposure and money. With the Pac-12 proposed media deal with Apple, it’s said that the Four Corner schools would have received $20 million per year, compared with the Big 12’s offer of $32 million. The move is lucrative for the newcomers, but it’s believed that Utah’s program has the most to gain overall. With the Utes’ recent winning program, they could easily become the new face of the conference. And that’s nothing to sneeze at since the Big 12 seems to be keeping pace with the SEC and the Big Ten, membership-wise.

REMAINING TEAMS

Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State

With all this shuffling, that leaves just four schools still in the Pac-12. Of the remaining West Coast programs, Stanford has the best options. The ACC is said to be considering extending an offer, and it’s rumored that the school could also be waiting for an invitation to the Big Ten. But it’s also possible that Stanford could go independent. The biggest concern of course is the money factor — whereas the conferences are offering $30 million annually, Stanford must weigh if they could earn that on their own from TV deals. In terms of recruiting, it’s also helpful to be part of a conference to ensure that their brand is more established. Luckily for Cal, it seems that it’s been grouped with Stanford, so if a conference is interested in signing one of the schools, it’ll likely take both.

Oregon State and Washington State’s futures are a bit more unclear. It’s possible that they could join the Mountain West, or they could try to rally the remaining four teams and rebuild the Pac-12. It seems unlikely that the latter could happen though, with the daunting deadline of 2024 fast approaching. They would need to pull in a few more teams, perhaps from the Mountain West, and since there are exit fees to consider, it’s unlikely that moving to another conference on such short notice would be tempting. What will happen to these remaining Pac-12 teams? We’ll have to wait and see.

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