In June 2010, the Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah to expand to 12 teams. Though the conference is only in its first year of play with that number, it could be adding more institutions in the near future.
For months, rumors have swirled concerning various conference expansion options.
Though several scenarios are currently being discussed, the most likely for the Pac-12, according to multiple reports, appears to be adding Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech to create a 16-team conference. As of right now, it is unclear how the divisions would shape up.
“It is my opinion that the case for the Big 12 Conference continues to be as strong today for all of our current members as it was last year, especially considering the welfare of those to whom we owe the greatest responsibility — the student-athletes,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement. “We continue to apply all effort and resources toward assuring our members that maintaining the Big 12 is in the best interest for their institutions.”
Regents from both Oklahoma and Texas met Monday to discuss conference realignment, where they cleared their respective schools to leave the Big 12 conference and explore other options.
“Beyond the Big 12, the principal focus for us is the Pac-12,” Oklahoma President David Boren told John Hoover of the Tulsa World on Wednesday.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has remained adamant, however, that the conference is not actively looking to expand.
“We don’t plan to expand,” Scott told the Daily Trojan before USC’s conference opener against Utah on Sept. 10. “What’s changed is what’s going on with the Big 12.”
Expansion is not imminent, though, as there are still issues to be worked out.
Primarily, Texas’s current contractual obligations to the Longhorn Network, which was launched in August, could complicate any scenario in which Texas leaves for the Pac-12.
Currently, the network earns approximately $11 million per year, and the extra revenue generated is likely to be a point of contention with current Pac-12 schools, which have adopted equal revenue sharing under the conference’s new TV deal beginning in 2012. Because of these complications, it is possible the Pac-12 would only add the Oklahoma schools.
Over the weekend, a huge domino in the college expansion game fell, when the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Sunday the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, formerly of the Big East, becoming the first 14-team football conference when the two schools begin play.
In the Big 12, Texas A&M is reportedly leaving the conference for the Southeastern Conference, which would reduce the number of member institutions to nine — threatening the viability of the league.
As a result, the rest of the members are searching for a soft landing spot should the conference collapse.
Last week, TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte, whose school will be heading to the Big East next year, commented on the situation.
“There are earthquakes going on all around us,” he told ESPN’s Joe Schad. “And we don’t know when they’ll settle.”