The Pac-12, once self-anointed as the “Conference of Champions,” has been reduced to just four teams due to the weekend exodus of five programs.
Oregon and Washington joined outgoing Pac-12 members USC and UCLA in the Big Ten, while Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah joined the Big 12.
The latest: The teams that remain in the Pac-12 for 2024 are Stanford, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State. The small number of remaining teams has led to questions about the future of the conference, such as whether the remaining teams will go independent or attempt to merge with another conference.
- Now, the status of the remaining four Pac-12 programs has opened the door to a potential merger between the reeling conference and the Mountain West, home of Fresno State.
- A report from the San Diego Union-Tribune asserts that preliminary talks between the two conferences about a possible merger have already begun. Sources told the paper that Mountain West could dissolve in name only to remove its exit fees, priced at $34 million per school, to join a new league for the 2024 season.
- This would allow for the Pac-12 to retain NCAA Tournament credits and secure a bump in College Football Playoff funds for being in an autonomous conference. For its members, the merged entity would retain the arguably more valuable name.
What’s not to like? Other than a serving as a face-saving move for the Pac-12, the Pac-12 and Mountain West are well-positioned geographically, which would make a merger between the two conferences logistically favorable. Adding competitive programs like Boise State, Fresno State, Utah State, and San Diego State could be a good move for the Pac-12.
- Hanging in the balance is Stanford’s status. Unlike the other remaining four, the private university could explore a move to the Big Ten or mull going independent.