Pac-12 expansion candidates: Where should the conference look first without USC and UCLA?

The Pac-12 initially chose to be patient with expansion. It figured it could wait and find the perfect fit or hold steady. continuously Big Ten departure of USC and UCLAThe convention has lost that luxury.

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met Friday morning and It authorized a conference to explore expansion. The conference’s future is at stake. A former executive of the conference said Athletic“I don’t know if they’ll ever recover from this.”

The obvious hurdle: The Pac-12’s expansion options aren’t huge. Despite the lack of football success and substandard media fees, the conference has always offered some degree of stability. Not so anymore. USC And UCLAThe discharges of have eroded the foundations.

Holding Commissioner George Kliavkoff’s first job Washington and in the Oregon location. Without the Trojans and Bruins, Pacific Northwest schools host the conference together. It won’t be easy. The second is not only to find the right schools that fit the Pac-12’s profile, but also to assist in the conference’s upcoming media rights negotiations. Bye.

First calls

San Diego State: Athletic The Pac-12 asked two industry sources about expansion candidates, each launched here. The Pac-12 doesn’t seem to take San Diego State seriously, mostly because it operates in the California State University system, but it’s time to give the Mountain West school a strong look. San Diego has the 28th largest television market, which isn’t ideal, but adding the Aztecs would give the Pac-12 a presence in some part of Southern California. This cannot be ignored. Athletically, San Diego State has recently outscored many Pac-12 schools in football and men’s basketball, so that’s not an issue. The football program has posted five seasons of 10-plus wins in the last seven years. The men’s basketball team has made the NCAA Tournament nine times since the 2009–10 season. More importantly, the Aztecs have shown commitment to taking the next step. This fall, they plan to open the $310 million Snapdragon Stadium as their next soccer home. There’s a bit of momentum here.

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Boise State: Another Mountain West program, Boise State, has always been a popular expansion candidate because of its football success. This is a good starting point. The Broncos will compete in the Pac-12. Additionally, the men’s basketball team won the Mountain West title and played in the NCAA Tournament. Geographically, Boise fits the Pac-12 footprint. (Geography no longer matters.) Biggest drawback: The Boise market doesn’t add much media value.

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Houston And TCU: Nine months on, the game is still in shock Texas And Oklahoma Announcing their SEC intentions, the Pac-12 considered expansion. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Houston and TCU were the conference’s top targets. Eventually, the Pac-12 stuck with 12, Houston settled in the Big 12 and all was well. Until Thursday. Location-wise, it works. Dallas-Fort Worth is the nation’s fifth largest media market. Houston is eighth. This will put the Pac-12 in the heart of Texas, which is rich in talent, which will help with recruiting.

Houston makes sense. TCU brings up an issue in that the Pac-12 generally doesn’t care much about religiously oriented schools. But over the past several years, TCU has distanced itself from those relationships. Not even the Pac-12 can take it.

Texas Tech: When it comes to Big 12 schools – you can add Baylor And here’s Oklahoma State — which ultimately comes down to this: With the Big 12 so stable, how much interest do they have in rescuing the floundering Pac-12? According to industry sources, Texas Tech has long favored a move west, but that may have changed recently. Like Houston and TCU, it would take the Pac-12 to Texas, but that might be the biggest upside.

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Worth checking out

SMU: If Big 12 schools aren’t an option, SMU is worth a look. The American Athletic Conference school lacks the football punch that San Diego State and Boise State can provide, but SMU brings media value to Dallas. Like Houston and TCU, the addition of the Mustangs will help with recruiting.

UNLV: Another Mountain West school, UNLV, offers little to improve the Pac-12 in terms of competitive balance, but the Las Vegas market is attractive. Additionally, the conference already has a presence in Sin City, hosting its football championship and postseason basketball tournaments.

— Max Olson, Christian Caple and Chris Vannini contributed reporting.

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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