Stanford is reportedly the team that's crucial for the future Pac-12 expansion or a potential merger with the AAC.
Since eight of the 12 Pac-12 schools have left the conference, Stanford has been exploring its options. The school has reportedly talked to the Atlantic Coast Conference and hopes to join it.
However, at the moment, Stanford does not have enough support to join the ACC, so there's a chance that the school will have to remain with the Pac-12. CFB reporter Jim Williams claims that having Stanford remain in the Pac-12 is critical for the conference's expansion/merger talks.
"Expanding the PAC 4 or merging with either the American or Mountain depends Stanford. That puts @OregonState & @WSUCougarFB in a holding pattern. Meanwhile potential candidates for expansion are not rushing to talk the PAC about their future because there's way too many questions than answers."
If Stanford can't get into the ACC as they hope to, remaining with the four Pac-12 teams and merging with the MWC or American Athletic Conference would make sense.
Stanford gets creative in hopes of joining ACC
As Stanford has seen the Pac-12 go from 12 to four schools, it has been actively pursuing its next move.
Stanford released a statement saying that its focus is on looking into all possible options for its future in athletics:
"Our primary focus at this time is analyzing the available options and making the best decisions for Stanford and our student-athletes. We remain optimistic about Stanford's athletics future and remain committed to pursuing excellence in college athletics," Stanford's statement said.
After Stanford didn't get enough support to join the ACC, it was reported that the school would forgo media payouts for the first few years to entice the other schools to vote for them to join the conference. However, this has still not yielded results.
Stanford wants to continue playing Power 5 football
A big reason why Stanford is interested in the ACC is the fact that the school wants to keep playing Power 5 football, according to coach Troy Taylor.
"I think the players that committed to us and came here, they want to play Power 5 football, and that is what our intention is with this university," Taylor said. "I can't imagine anything else."
As of right now, it's uncertain if the Pac-12 and MWC or AAC merger would keep the conference as a Power 5 conference. With that said, Stanford is hoping it can eventually join the ACC despite the move necessitating more travel.