The Pac 12 has decided not to expand after announcing that they have joined an alliance with the Big 10 and the ACC. While many of the details about the alliance are unclear, we know that it will impact how these conferences will schedule their non-conference games. We know they will reportedly work together to keep the meld of college athletics successful.
The Pac 12 not expanding shouldn’t be crazy news, but given how the Big 12 is currently imploding, it was an idea that was certainly being tossed around. But I have a suspicion that the go-ahead to expand was never actually all that close to happening. I think it is in the best interest of the Pac 12 to keep the members it currently has and stick with 12 for the time being. My reasonings are because they just don’t need to right now based on the other conferences; the current teams have already caused enough headache for a College Football Playoff berth as is, travel restraints would suck, and there are questions about teams they could actually add. Let’s break all of these things down and examine why it is a good idea that the Pac 12 won’t expand right now.
Take a look around
The SEC will do what the SEC wants to do, and there is really no stopping that. But outside of that conference, the current conferences in the alliance and the Big 12 aren’t doing anything crazy that makes me think the Pac 12 is missing an opportunity to expand. The Big 10 and ACC are not looking to add members right now. If anything, they were more concerned that teams like Clemson, Ohio State, and Florida State would try to bolt to the SEC and create one massive power conference. Those schools look like they are certainly staying put, and I don’t see them poaching each other’s teams after they just created an alliance which made it clear that they aren’t to do that.
The Big 12, on the other hand, is sort of expanding, but can we really call it that when there are just eight members of the conference that will be left standing once UT and OU leave? The most teams the Big 12 can really bring in is 4, considering there aren’t that many great teams to choose from. They might take BYU, SMU, Houston, and Cincinnati, but that doesn’t really push the needle, and it certainly doesn’t make up for the fact that the two best brands in the conference are gone.
Pac 12 Cannibalism
If you know anything about the Pac 12, you know that the cannibalism is real. This conference has an extremely tough time getting a team to the College Football Playoff, and it’s because no one team has been dominant enough yet, consistently, not to be upset by a conference rival. We saw it happen to Oregon against Arizona State two years ago. We have seen it happen to Washington and USC, and ASU. The Pac 12 has enough competitive teams, and there is no one team out there that has the power actually to dominate the conference and go undefeated. The only teams they could currently add would just be a team that would trip another CFP hopeful up and spoils their season at the last minute. The Pac 12 has shot itself in the foot more times than I can remember in the last five years, and it is time that they elevate one program to the top. If that team happens to say be Oregon, the Pac 12 shouldn’t hurt them by bringing in a team like BYU that will make it more difficult for them down the stretch.
Frequent Miles Member
Let’s face it; the Pac 12 has it pretty good right now regarding their travel itinerary. Sure, it might suck to go from Seattle to Tucson or Utah to Los Angeles, but all in all, there are no major complaints with how far each team has to travel. The conference has done a nice job of putting multiple teams in the same state, so there are natural rivalries and less frequent travel. How would that work if the Pac 12 decided to add the three Texas Schools and say Oklahoma State? Are you telling me that the Washington State softball team will have to travel to Waco, Texas for a weekend series in a time zone that is a two-hour time difference? How about when you want to send Utah to Stillwater on a Thursday for a Pac-12 after dark basketball game.
These conferences claim that their players are student-athletes first. They absolutely will not be if they are regularly traveling more than 1000 miles away from their current schools to play mid-week games. These athletes still have school work and class and some semblance of a social life that is totally thrown out the window if they are doing tons of travel every single week to states that are half the country away.
Who do you know here?
Lastly, I am just not that impressed by the possible members that the Pac 12 can add. First off, there are no private religious institutions in the Pac 12 at the moment. Baylor and TCU would break that norm if they were to add in the Texas Big 12 burnouts. If they added those three, you’d have to consider that they would look into adding BYU, another religious institution. So there are questions right off the top.
But let’s look deeper. Baylor would bring a basketball powerhouse to the conference with one of the best coaches in the country. That’s a plus. But their football program is subpar, so is Texas Tech. TCU will put together winning seasons, but they will play in mediocre bowl games year in and year out. Outside of the Big 12, where are you looking to expand outside of that? BYU, Boise State, and Colorado State? Yawn. Fresno State isn’t going to do any damage, and neither is a team like San Jose State or UNLV.
The bottom line is that the Pac 12 is fine where it is, and expansion is not imminent, nor would it be beneficial.