Saving the PAC-12: One Interesting Possibility
Can the PAC-12 rebuild itself without lowering standards?
The PAC-12 has quality options for a post- UCLA and USC conference, if it permits itself to consider them.
San Francisco, CA – The PAC-12 is enduring the NCAA sports conference equivalent of a sudden prostate cancer diagnosis. The conference will be battling to survive with its dignity intact.
Vanity has been the PAC-12’s source of strength for decades. Righteousness meant that several qualified expansion candidates found themselves perennially on the outside, knocking on the conference’s door, to no avail, despite having worthy attributes.
Vanity, however, can also be an organization’s undoing.
Blockbuster Video, at its peak, boasted that 21% of revenues came from late fees. Out of vanity, it dismissed new competitor Netflix which didn’t charge late fees. It didn’t see the forest for the trees.
If the PAC-12 is not blinded by its own righteousness, it could recognize that there are a few truly worthy candidates that could augment the conference.
In the past 10 years, SDSU has emerged as true Power-Five material.
Among the CSU’s, San Diego State University is in a league of its own in academia, research and athletics. San Diego is a great So-Cal destination, and the university hosts excellent venues including Tony Gwynn Stadium, Viejas Arena, and now Snapdragon Stadium.
As a testament to its athletics progress, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Strasburg, and Xander Schauffele are all products of Aztecs sports.
Another Power Five emergent program (which recently got a break with the BIG-12) is Brigham Young University. BYU, like San Diego State, was never given a serious look by the PAC-12. Yet, the Cougars can compete; they have great venues, and their academics are solid.
If BYU were able to bid farewell to the BIG-12, the university could favor of a less hectic travel schedule and focus on the Western half of the United States. It would be far less stressful on student athletes. This last minute-move could be ideal for Brigham Young, and it’s probable that Athletic Director Tom Holmoe would favor the move.
San Diego State and Brigham Young University might just offer the PAC-12 the opportunity to maintain its high standards and dignity.
Both teams might be accepted by the rest of the conference, if a few matters could be tolerated.
SDSU is a C.S.U., and that might be hard for California snobs in the PAC-12 to accept. Nonetheless, SDSU is in line with- or superior to- Washington State and Oregon State, and it is on par with Arizona State. Surprising to some: SDSU now has stricter academics than several of the U.C. schools.
It might be prudent for the PAC-12 to invite the cream of the California State University crop, to join its ranks.
Under our hypothetical scenario, the PAC-12 would also need to exhibit tolerance toward Brigham Young University whose faith-based values might irk Cal and Stanford students, athletes and alumni. These universities are architecting a new woke world order. If the PAC-12 tolerated the Mormon university, it would make for excellent sports competition and quality rivalry.
With the Aztecs and Cougars, the PAC-12 could potentially tally similar NCAA Tournament seeds and AP-Top 25 results- or even improved results.
Now, if the PAC-12 wanted to further augment itself in a manner that might strengthen it: two more augmentations could help. The PAC-12 could choose a hybrid Gonzaga / Hawaii for basketball and olympic sports / football only. It could also select Air Force, whose values are in line with the PAC-12.
In this scenario, a new PAC-14 with SDSU, BYU, Air Force, and Gonzaga / Hawaii would make for an interesting, high quality conference.
It is not inconceivable that UCLA and USC could encounter hardship from traveling to the East Coast repeatedly, which may not be all it is cracked up to be. The Bruins and Trojans might also be surprised to discover that they may not be champions in a mega BIG-10, due to player fatigue and fiercer competition. They might struggle for middling status. In the case of a PAC reversion, a new PAC-16, with the aforementioned additions could be robust.
There is opportunity in times of chaos. The PAC-12, could maintain its strength, prestige and competitive spirit with these careful additions.