Will the PAC-12 exist in a few years?
This question is being kicked around more and more as reports grow the Big Ten intends to poach many more teams and most survivors will flee for the Big 12.
Currently, USC and UCLA are set to join the B1G in 2024. Initially, it looked like the PAC-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff had stopped the immediate bleeding and the conference might hold. Granted, it looked like it would hold as a weak shell of itself but hold nonetheless.
Kliavkoff was so confident the PAC-12 would survive that he did his best Baghdad Bob impression and argued the conference was stable, in control and might end up raiding the Big 12.
For those of you don't know, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf - Baghdad Bob - was the laughable and comical Information Minister of Iraq when America rocked the nation in 2003. Despite American forces rolling Saddam's military, Baghdad Bob told viewers around the world America was losing and surrendering in the desert. His delusional statements made him a fan favorite.
Kliavkoff took that energy and spirit to a new level as he tried to convince people the Titanic hadn't hit an iceberg, but was just in some choppy water.
Now, it appears the PAC-12's day of reckoning is near, and it's time to ask whether or not the conference will exist when 2025 rolls around.
As an unbiased observer, I'd say things don't look good.
When USC and UCLA left for greener pastures in the Big Ten, there might have been a small window of opportunity for the PAC-12 to quickly try to add some new teams and stop the leaking.
However, with reports that Oregon's arrival to the B1G is inevitable, it appears that the window is officially closed. The belief is the Big Ten will take at least four more PAC-12 teams (Cal, Stanford, Oregon and Washington), and once that happens, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado will rush to safety in the Big 12.
That leaves Washington State and Oregon State as the sole remaining members. From there, there are really only two choices left on the table.
The PAC-12 will collapse or try to add MWC to survive. Kliavkoff's biggest bargaining chip a year ago might have been the prospect of a reasonable TV deal. That no longer exists. No network is going to hand the PAC-12 a fat TV deal when fans don't even know what teams will exist in the league on any given day.
What exactly is the pitch to the 12 teams in the MWC to leave? The MWC, while only a G5 conference, has stability. In fact, as of today, it has much more stability than the PAC-12.
Also, the MWC has no reason to play ball with a PAC-12 consisting of only Washington State and Oregon State. Plus, is it easier to move a dozen teams to the PAC-12 or just take the last two teams remaining into the MWC?
To put it as simply as possible, the PAC-12 has no leverage here, and that would seem to indicate collapse is the only realistic option.
Also, we have history to look at. The Big East used to exist as a football conference. When the ACC came calling, it was all over in the blink of an eye. Nobody in the Big East attempted to patch the holes as the ship sank.
The league just splintered and collapsed.
So, Kliavkoff can continue to act like he's Baghdad Bob and loudly shout that the American tanks have all been destroyed, but that's just not reality. Don't bank on the PAC-12 surviving any kind of serious exodus.