Stanford and Cal's bid to leave the Pac-12 for the Atlantic Coast Conference met an obstacle last week. The two universities could not get enough support for admission into the conference after four ACC schools reportedly voted against the potential expansion.
Despite the amount of lobbying that has gone on since the voting session, none of the four opposing schools in ACC is ready to change its stance. This potentially gives the Pac-12 expansion a lifeline as the remaining four teams hope to keep their Power Five status.
Unlike Oregon State and Washington State, Cal and Stanford have not been so open to the idea of a Pac-12 rebuild. However, with the route to the ACC almost closed, the two schools will have to reconsider their position and work toward the conference's survival.
With Oliver Luck still exploring the options to keep the conference alive in the college sports landscape, we examine what the structure of the Pac-12 could look like in 2024.
The ideal scenario for Pac-12 expansion
Following the mass exodus of its members a few weeks ago, expansion became the only option to keep the Pac-12 alive within college athletics. Teams from Group of Five conferences are the obvious targets in its expansion plan.
While a merger with the Mountain West Conference or American Athletic Conference has been muted, hand-picking schools from the two conferences is the best option. This helps the Pac-12 select teams with Power Five pedigree and preserves the legacy of MWC and AAC.
It could also create a scenario where the Pac-12 selects four top schools each from the MWC and ACC to create a 12-team conference. The Mountain West candidates will likely be San Diego State, Colorado State, Boise State and Fresno State. The American could also have SMU, Tulane, Memphis and USF join the Pac-12.
The obstacles ahead for the expansion
While the composition of 12 teams will effectively ensure the survival of the Pac-12, it won't come easy. The big challenge for the conference and Oliver Luck is readying the expansion teams to join before the 2024-25 academic year.
Getting the AAC teams into the Pac-12 is reportedly more straightforward. However, the MWC teams find themselves in a difficult position concerning making their exit in time for 2024. This would mean they would have to pay double the exit fee at a staggering $34 million.
With these challenges in existence, Oliver Luck's responsibility is to find a way to navigate the situation and ensure a successful Pac-12 expansion.