While conference realignment shakes up much of college football, the Pac-12 is comfortable standing pat at 12 teams.
Realignment is quaking through college football at this moment. The ACC and the Big Ten continue to expand, and the mid-major conferences seem to be switching it off.
The Pac-12 will stand pat. Bryan Fischer talked to Larry Scott on the subject.
Fan question from Kevin Luchansky (@kpLUCH on Twitter): With realignment shaking up again, does the Pac-12 stay put or look to expand?
SCOTT: We're not looking to expand. We intend to and hope to stay at 12 teams for the foreseeable future. I feel we've been at the forefront of expansion, at least the recent wave of it. Obviously realignment has been happening for decades but in the recent wave we were a very early mover. In 2011, we added Colorado and Utah and it was very strategic to get to a football championship game and in advance of our TV negotiations and in advance of possibly starting our own network. It turned out well.
We did have the opportunity last fall to evaluate further expansion opportunities. At that time it was clear to me and I told our athletic directors and presidents: We have to envision a world where peer conferences go to 14 or 16 teams. We saw that with the SEC adding Texas A&M and Missouri, the ACC was at 14. I had enough conversations with the Big Ten to know that they would at some stage likely expand. We evaluated not in the context of where the world was today but where the world is going to be five or 10 years ago and that's a world of 14 or 16-team conferences. We decided we wanted to stay at 12.
Especially after what the Big Ten has just done, our conference makes more sense than any other from a geographic standpoint. We have the logic of natural rivals in each of the markets we're in. We like playing each other; our schools don't want to play each other less. The departure from the round-robin and not playing each other has required some adjustments but our priority is keeping the nine-game schedule and playing each other often.
Frankly, you can never be complacent but there's a sense that we're right there with any conference in the country in terms of the caliber of our TV deal both financially and exposure-wise. We've kind of ticked the box in terms of things we wanted to achieve so there's no sense that we need to expand for expansion's sake. We're in great shape as a 12-team conference.
Indeed, it doesn't seem like the Pac-12 has any real expansion partners at this point. Colorado and Utah already met with quite a great deal of resistance, and it's unlikely that there's anyone out there in the West Coast that'll end up being a good match for the conference.
Boise State and San Diego State were mentioned as potential targets, which doesn't really make any sense. San Diego is a good geographical market and has decent academics and athletics, but there doesn't seem to be any real benefit to trying to build up the Southern California market when USC and UCLA cannibalize most of the market share. And Boise is just going to be a tough fit by any means; outside of football, there is no real added benefit to trying to bring the two.
Of course, these were just mentioned as potential regional targets. I doubt either is realistic.
If the Pac-12 is to expand, it'll have to be Texas and Oklahoma, and it's not clear either will be happening anytime soon. The Big 12 seems to be ready to cobble along as one of the big conferences, and Texas and Oklahoma are ready to move forward with their own television networks.
For now, the Pac-12 will stay the Pac-12. Seems like a nice arrangement.