One day after the Southern California and UCLA announced their departures to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 vowed that it will “explore all expansion options” to keep the league thriving.
The Pac-12 Board of Directors met Friday morning to discuss the options after the stunning exits by USC and UCLA delivered a major blow to the conference.
“The 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academics and athletic excellence on behalf of our student athletes,” the league said in a statement.
Also on Friday, reports circulated that Oregon and Washington conversed with the Big Ten and were told the conference was sticking at 16 members for now.
The two schools are on the backburner as the Big Ten makes another push at attracting Notre Dame, a football independent whose basketball programs along with other sports are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
If Oregon and Washington were to exit the Pac-12, that would rate as another huge blow. The other eight Pac-12 schools are Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah and Washington State.
There also is speculation that the two Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah could become a target for the Big 12.
As for the Pac-12, a bevy of Mountain West schools will be lining up hoping for an invitation.
UNLV features the world class Allegiant Stadium and the city of Las Vegas has exploded as a sports force in recent years.
San Diego State could fill the sudden Southern California void in the conference. San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country and the school is opening a new football stadium this season — though, at 35,000 seats, it is small for power conference standards. The facility does have room for expansion.
Boise State has enjoyed football success and is in close proximity to Washington State. However, the school’s football stadium of 36,387 seats isn’t a big-time facility. The school built a football operations facility directly behind the north end zone, limiting expansion opportunities.
Fresno State is another California possibility, while Colorado State (located an hour north of Denver) could merit a look.
There also could be the possibility of some Big 12 members looking westward. At this point, there are numerous schools who want to make sure they don’t get left behind in the current frenzy that began last year when Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Texas announced their upcoming departures to the SEC.