Even with the Pac-12 no longer a part of expansion, the latest realignment frenzy might end with a net-positive for the conference.
Over a week ago, the Pac-12 seemed like it was on the verge of becoming the Pac-16, when it's clear now that no such agreement was close to happening. The conference didn't want to expand and risk fracturing the crucial balance they'd put in place, and thus things stayed the way they are.
Balance might have been preserved in the Pac. But other football realities are spinning off their axes.
The Big 12 is a total mess. The raids by the Pac-12 (Colorado) and the Big 10 (Nebraska) had already weakened its vulnerable structure. Now it's down to nine teams with the departure of A&M. and Missouri will spend the next 25 years being invited to the SEC. Not exactly the model of stability you want. The Big 12 might have to build up walls to KEEP teams from leaving on schedule.
And even if the conference decides to rebuild itself and get back to 12? Jon Wilner reports the current Big 12 candidates for expansion: BYU, Boise, West Virginia and Louisville, possibly TCU. This conference would be good at football, but half the rivalries make no sense and West Virginia and Boise are thousands of miles away from the other schools. This is expansion that would not have long-term justifiable rewards. Expansion here is just going to cause issues.
The ACC might be moving to more teams, but there are no significant new football powers being added. Pitt and Syracuse plus Rutgers and UConn are primarily basketball-focused. Well, not Rutgers; they're big on the Giants or something. With these new additions, the ACC becomes primarily a college basketball conference, and even though it'll be nice in ensuring its long-term stability, its football product isn't terribly palatable.
The Pac-12 is in position to reap the rewards of their strong union in the years to come. They have their teams and their TV contract and they should all be alright for the near future. Everyone else seems to be falling in front of their face to try and keep up when they don't really need to keep up.
And if any of the other conferences fracture and Texas and Oklahoma are left in their dying Big 12? The Pac-12 could very well get back on the expansion wagon as the cosmic realignment dance spins back their way...