Top Expansion Candidates For Big 12 From Pac-12 Conference
We are looking at another major change across college football as it was announced on Thursday that USC and UCLA are planning on leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten and could do so as early as 2024.
With two flagship programs leaving the conference, the Pac-12 is in a precarious position and the Big 12 is in a position to take advantage of the opportunity.
As Brett McMurphy reported on Thursday, the Big 12 could be “aggressive” and look to add Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado to their future roster of conference members. But what if the Big 12 could have their pick of the remaining Pac-12 teams? Who would they prefer to add? Let’s take a look.
First and foremost, the Oregon Ducks are the biggest remaining brand left in the Pac-12 after USC’s departure, and it’s not particularly close. The Ducks have some of the best athletic facilities in the nation thanks to Oregon grad and Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Oregon is a national brand, with top-tier programs in football, track and field, softball, and basketball and would be an excellent brand to add to the Big 12, particularly in football.
The Ducks were consistent under Mario Cristobal and they will likely continue their success under new head coach Dan Lanning. If Brett Yormark can convince the Ducks to become a part of the Big 12, it would be a massive victory for the conference as a whole.
The Utes are likely going to be a Top-10 team in 2022 and were dangerously close to taking out Ohio State in the Rose Bowl last year. Utah is also an above average softball program and has had success in the past in basketball as well. The biggest reason to add Utah though, is to pair them with their in-state rival, BYU.
Adding the Holy War to the slate of Big 12 rivalries would be a big win for Brett Yormark and the Big 12 and with what Brett McMurphy has said in the wake of USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12, there could be a good chance that we get to see this one actually happen.
I feel that Arizona to the Big 12 could be one of the best natural fits available for the conference, outside of Colorado for obvious reasons. However, I am taking the Wildcats in this scenario, based on the state of their athletic program right now.
Arizona is elite at basketball and softball, making the Elite Eight in the 2022 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, and making the 2022 Women’s College World Series. The Wildcats are good in baseball, and traveled to the Ole Miss regional this season and were bounced by the eventual national champions. Yes, football is in a dark time right now, but being out of the Pac-12 automatically helps that, right?
I’m going to take the Sun Devils here for a lot of the same reasons that I took Utah. Adding ASU gives Arizona a proper boarding partner and it adds another upper echelon athletic program to the conference. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a night game in Tempe, Arizona in October?
The football program is in a bit of turmoil right now with the NCAA investigation, which almost convinced me to leave them off this list, but adding the national runner-ups in Golf and a Top 10 softball program gives them the knod.
My how the times have changed. A little over a decade ago the Colorado Buffaloes left the Big 12 for their shiny new conference and look where it has led them: right back home to us. The Buffs have had little success since leaving the Big 12, although they weren’t world beaters in 2010-11 either.
Nonetheless, adding a regional opponent that borders Big 12 states is a win, and it also helps the conference bridge the gap between the heartland and Utah.
Plus, how funny would it be to welcome back the team that left not so long ago for greener pastures? Talk about ironic.