RIGHT NOW Is SDSU Aztecs Sports’ Defining Moment
Fall 2022 ignites Aztec football’s 100th anniversary and the opening of a new stadium. Neither milestone may be the biggest news.
San Diego, CA – Just when SDSU Athletic Director John David Wicker expected to enjoy a celebratory 100th milestone fall football season; one to exceed all others before it- while christening the new state-of-the-art Snapdragon Stadium mind you, ALL HELL has just broken loose.
Southern California sports titans UCLA and USC kicked off the Santa Ana winds three months ahead of schedule by going full-bore Jerry McGuire with the BIG 10. Los Angeles’ premier universities have exercised their best (financial) options for the future, even if it comes at the expense of student athletes who will be pushed to the limit to compete all over the country.
Now, the PAC-12 headquarters is proverbially on fire, black smoke billowing robustly from its roof. The ransacked conference now finds itself looking down the barrel of a gun, and facing a true existential threat. The possibility of going from “Hero” to “Zero” in record time is quite real.
PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff got caught flat-footed, and was clearly stunned by the news. He will not be able to follow in the footsteps of the Mountain West’s own Craig Thompson who quietly handed out trophies until all of last year’s realignment hullabaloo blew over. No: Kliavkoff has to apply a tourniquet on the now missing right leg of the conference body, and fend off a school of BIG 12 piranhas which have smelled the blood and now circle the conference in the red sea of chaos. Will Washington and Oregon jump ship next? What will Stanford and Cal do? What are UA and ASU contemplating?
It has been the dream of so many Aztecs fans and alumni to one day enter an expanded Pac-12, or even perhaps displace Washington State as a rising perennial Top-25-caliber football and basketball program complemented by record-setting olympic sports teams. SDSU is now a university that displays academic excellence; functions as a true research university, and exhibits Power Five competitiveness. SDSU is ready for primetime.
Yet with the PAC-12 at risk of utter collapse- or worse: finding itself populated with a bunch of second-rate wannabes, joining a gutted conference would be like starring in the film “Titanic 2.”
So, instead of enjoying summer, J.D. Wicker is playing conference chess.
Being celebrated for helping manage San Diego environmental politics to secure the property for Snapdragon Stadium (and a Mission Valley expanded campus) and then actually building the stadium on time will take the back burner. Toasting the 100th season will be eclipsed by a massive, glaring question.
That question will loom heavy. It cannot be ignored and it will indelibly define the future of all Aztecs sports, and potentially steal the thunder of a victory lap that Wicker and Co. earned. That question is EVERYTHING for the future of Aztecs sports:
Will SDSU rise in re-alignment to FINALLY enter the Power Five?
Nobody will condemn Wicker if he, like Craig Thompson, remains paralytic and in one year from now we’ve not moved up or down. That might mean the same teams in the same Mountain West Conference going through the same middling motions.
NOW is the time to strike while the iron is hot, if San Diego State wants to go to the next level. NOW is the time to go big or go home. NOW is the time for J.D. Wicker to make the moves that would cement him as SDSU’s all-time most successful and transformative Athletic Director. What an exciting exclamation point on an already historic fall season that could be.