A lot can change in the world of college sports in a day. Just ask the Pac-12 Conference, which is going to explore expansion now that two of its most iconic members have decided to leave for the Big Ten.
On Thursday, the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins announced that they will be leaving to join the Big Ten in 2024. It was a shocking decision that is sure to send ripple effects throughout college football and the larger college athletics world. Once conference realignment gets rolling, it’s hard to stop.
As far as the Pac-12 is concerned, it has some big decisions to make. Should it try to go it as a ten-member conference again, should it try to expand to keep pace with the Big Ten and SEC, or should it wait out the inevitable as schools like Washington, Oregon, Stanford, and Cal explore their options?
It sounds like the conference is at least going to consider the possibility of expanding, per a new statement released on Friday.
The Pac-12 is open for expansion, one year after it decided not to expand. pic.twitter.com/8D2hw1cpce
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) July 1, 2022
“The Pac-12 Board of Directors met this morning and authorized the Conference to explore all expansion options,” said the statement. “The 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academic and athletic excellence on behalf of our student-athletes.”
The conference expanded from 10 teams to 12 back in 2011 when Colorado and Utah allowed them to become the Pac-12. Interestingly, they decided not to expand last year when there were reports that the conference was considering adding BYU and other schools.
As far as which schools the conference could consider adding by 2024, the list seems to include everyone from BYU to Boise State to Houston to Baylor to many others. It’s hard to imagine the Pac-12 will want to lose its place in the Los Angeles area, though it’s very unclear what other Southern California schools would qualify to join them.
The Pac 12 says it’s exploring expansion options (cue the not owned meme) pic.twitter.com/y35WCubR6X
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 1, 2022