It is tempting for Alabama football fans and fans of other SEC programs to ignore the current Pac-12 meltdown as trivial. It is and it isn’t at the same time. College Sports Management curriculums will study what happened to rapidly erode the Pac-12. For the rest of us, paying attention is more like fascination with a train wreck.
The realignment situation is rapidly evolving and remains somewhat fluid. Most college football pundits believe that soon, in days or hours, Oregon and Washington will join the Big Ten, and along with Colorado and Arizona, Arizona State and Utah will join the Big 12.
That will leave the Pac-12’s remaining four teams, Stanford, California, Washington State and Oregon State without a conference. Suddenly ‘west of the Pecos’ the most important person in college football is Gloria Nevarez. Nevarez is the Commissioner of the Moutain West Conference.
The Moutain West is headquartered in Colorado Springs. The phones in the Moutain West office must be slammed by unanswered phone calls from Pac-12 Commissioner, George Kliavkoff. The hopeless situation Kliavkoff is in can only be improved by a merger with another conference. The best fit is the Moutain West.
One reason Nevarez could be ignoring any calls from those in the crumbling Pac-12 is just weeks ago, the conference tried to pilfer San Diego State and was reportedly interested in UNLV as well. There is a bigger reason though. Why would the Mountain West merge, rather than just absorb the remaining four Pac-12 teams? Patience should pay off for the Moutain West, but these are not patient times. To Mountain West members San Diego State and San Jose State, adding California and Stanford must be very appealing.
If for no other reason, the Bears, Cardinal, Beavers, and Cougars should sprint to the Mountain West. Doing so would increase their chances of being a CFB Playoff team in 2024.
Alabama Football and the SEC have no concerns
Larry Stone writing for the Seattle Times described the situation for most Pac-12 programs as having reached an “every school for itself stage of preservation.” The demise of the Pac-12 could be blamed on the Big Ten and the Big 12, though it has been often (and apparently inaccurately) written that neither conference wanted to act until the Pac-12 crumbled on its own.
The real fault lies with Pac-12 executives, school administrators and presidents who blinded themselves to college football’s most powerful reality. The reality is money drives everything else and media deals are the fuel that feeds the engine. Out west, the latest reality is college football games don’t much matter, beyond small cores of fans.
What will happen next remains a big guess but a 16-team Moutain West, with additions of Cal, Stanford Washington State, and Oregon State is as good a guess as any.