Image Courtesy: Arizona Sports
Following Colorado’s exit from the Pac-12 to return to the Big 12 last Thursday, many anticipated Arizona to follow suit. The Wildcats sure did make their move to the Big 12 a week later. But, they were also joined by instate rival Arizona State and Pac-12 foe Utah. In addition, the Big Ten finally gave offers to Oregon and Washington to join UCLA and USC as travel mates. So, the Pac-12 is down to just California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.
California and Stanford can hope for Big Ten invites only because of their terrific academics but Oregon State and Washington State can only wish for Mountain West membership or some sort of it. If not, the Bears and Cardinal will likely go independent in football and find different conference homes in other sports. Or, the two could deemphasize athletics, which seems likelier than it did before the mass exodus this past week. Oregon State’s baseball program has and will continue to be fantastic but that does not matter to school presidents because it does not bring the same amount of revenue as football or even basketball. Washington State has not been great in many sports athletically since former football coach Mike Leach left the program a few years ago.
Oregon and Washington are huge additions for the Big Ten because of their football brands. Adding Nike’s premiere school in Oregon and Seattle with Washington are big moves for the conference going forward in its pursuit to continue competing with the SEC to be the top league in the country. Like I mentioned, bringing the two programs alongside UCLA and USC now helps the four not have to play every away game 3,000 miles away. However, regional rivalries are completely gone following this move. Despite Oregon and Washington saying they want to continue their instate rivalries with Oregon State and Washington State, those programs will not want to face them annually when they are Mountain West or Mountain West equivalent programs.
The Big Ten and Pac-12’s premiere Rose Bowl Game is completely gone with the Pac-12 turned into the Pac-4. The Big Ten and Big 12 completely swallowed up every valuable property in the conference. So, what’s next? Does another Power 5 conference send a representative to the game? What about the new 12-team College Football Playoff with automatic bids to the top six conference champions. However, with a weakened Pac-4, it makes no sense to give them out in the next College Football Playoff contract that is signed.
The Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC are poised to take over college sports with Florida State, Clemson, and others wanting out of the ACC with the conference being $30 million behind in revenue per school.