It’s starting to look like the demise of the Pac-12 may actually be on its way.
There has been talk for a while about more teams jumping ship after USC and UCLA decided to leave.
Colorado already recently decided they’d leave, but that was something the conference could survive.
Now there are expected to be two more departures that will be a whole lot more difficult for the conference to recover from.
Washington and Oregon heading to the Big Ten seems to be just about a done deal.
With those two schools gone, the conference’s media rights situation should get even worse than it already was as the Pac-12 becomes potentially the 6th best conference in the country in football.
With the situation worsening for the conference, it should be only a matter of time before Arizona State, Arizona, and Utah all join Colorado in the Big 12.
Once they’re gone, that would leave just Stanford, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State in the Pac-12.
Stanford and Cal have been linked to a move to the Big Ten, but there hasn’t been any report of an actual invitation for the two teams yet.
For now, that leaves them in a group of teams without many good options for their future.
If the Pac-12 falls apart, there will really only be one conference that can accommodate these schools in football and basketball.
That’s the Mountain West.
While it would be a step down for the Pac-12 teams, they would be a pretty nice addition for the Mountain West. Oregon State, Washington State, and Stanford would all help strengthen the conference in football.
The only other real option for them would be to become independents in football and head somewhere like the West Coast Conference in basketball.
It would probably be tough for anybody other than Stanford to pull that off. The Cardinal are still a big enough reputation that they’d probably be able to work out some kind of media deal for themselves and they’d still benefit from a yearly matchup against Notre Dame.
The other teams would struggle to get their games televised and would likely struggle in basketball with Gonzaga and St Mary’s reigning over the conference.
The only other option would be to latch on to a conference that is concentrated further east, but the money probably wouldn’t be good enough to offset the added travel expenses.
There still seems to be hope for Stanford that their brand is big enough to land with one of the big conferences and maybe Cal will be able to work their way into one too, but anybody left behind in the Pac-12 is probably looking at a future in the Mountain West.