The Pac 12 Is Probably Dead: What does that Mean for Texas Tech?
This morning, the college football world was rocked with the news that USC and UCLA would be bolting to the Big Ten. After nearly 100 years in the Pac 12, the pair of Los Angeles schools were looking for a new home.
An emergency meeting later and the deal was done.
You might remember a similar scenario last year when Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to head to the SEC after reports surfaced that talks had taken place. The vote took longer, but the result was the same.
Four storied programs moving into the SEC and the Big Ten furthers the gap even further between the haves and the have-nots. The major difference here is that with a year's head start, the Big 12 was able to salvage Oklahoma and Texas leaving with the addition of the last true independent with no affiliation that needed a home in a power conference. BYU was joined by Houston, UFC, and Cincinnati. The latter went on to make the group of five's first appearance at the College Football Playoff.
The move of UT and OU sent shockwaves through the Big 12, AAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA and more as the absence at the top created holes in multiple universes.
Before adding schools the remaining eight Big 12 teams briefly considered splitting up and heading to different conferences, but when the Pac 12 refused to expand, it sealed its fate. USC and UCLA weren't going to sit idly by while schools like Rutgers were raking in the Big Ten cash while they were wasting away in the Pac 12, that's been a rudderless ship since the former commissioner Larry Scott took over the league.
Reports are also already surfacing that more teams want to join the Big Ten, like Oregon and Washington, who would leave behind Washington State and Oregon State like Oklahoma left behind Oklahoma State the previous year.
The teams looking to get out further proves the point that the Pac 12 is dead.
Stanford and Cal have completely given up on playing competitive Power Five athletics. They didn't want to expand the Pac 12, which ultimately led to its downfall. If Oregon and Washington are indeed heading to the Big Ten, and Notre Dame Football makes the leap as they should have twenty years ago, that puts the Big Ten at 19 schools. I think they'll try to get to 20 before 2024 when the Pac 12 Schools can join.
So what does the death of the Pac 12 mean for Tech and the Big 12?
It's very likely that Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado are looking for a new home now. The natural fit is with the Big 12. Utah joins BYU, who they wanted as partners in the Pac 12. Colorado rejoins the conference they were in a decade earlier. Arizona and Arizona State join their former Border Conference foe, Texas Tech.
The Big 12, would then have an accelerated timeline to get Texas and Oklahoma out of the conference by 2024, a year ahead of schedule, to have a 16-team league moving forward instead of having one awkward season of 18 teams before settling back down to 16.
Ultimately, getting to 16 schools heading into a media rights negotiation with eight new members and eight existing members will be an absolute whirlwind for new commissioner Brett Yormark, but a much better set of bargaining chips than the conference had the last time they sat at the table.
I can't pretend to know what's going to happen next, but I've got a guess.
All of the top "Blue Blood" teams will end up in the SEC and the Big Ten, let's say those conferences top out at 18 a piece. The ACC and Big 12 will take the rest of the previous iteration of the Power Five schools and the College Football Playoff will form its own subdivision outside of the NCAA. If all four conferences get to 18 teams that is 72 teams. The Current Power Five Landscape is 64 teams, with four teams joining the Big 12 soon and Notre Dame which is 69. That means adding three schools like Memphis, Coastal Carolina or San Diego State to the biggest division in College Football.
The CFP would naturally expand and the natural division would be to have the ESPN-backed conferences be in a division while the FOX-backed conferences will be in another. That puts the SEC and ACC together opposite the Big Ten and the Big 12.
For example from the ESPN Division:
And the FOX Division:
The Expanded playoff could offer one auto-qualifier with the rest at-large bids, or take it a step further and have the Fox side of the bracket meet the ESPN side of the bracket in a... (pulls out thesaurus) Sensational Bowl. We can workshop the name.
That's all the long-term.
In the short term, as in by 2024, the Big 12 needs to be as strong as possible with a new television deal on the horizon.
The worst-case scenario for Texas Tech and the Big 12, is if they respond and try to poach some Big 12 schools, there by weakening both conferences in the process. Which is what the conference's statement said the plan was.
To me, it's too little too late. I don't make the decisions though.
Hold on to your butts.