Trying to deduce the next steps in this summer’s version of College Football Bingo has become a full-time obsession around the country ever since the news broke last week that USC and UCLA were bolting the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2025.
Apparently, the Big Ten has told various media outlets that the conference is done expanding, for now. Yet who actually believes that?
There are theories to support any scenario you can dream up, from the entire remaining Pac-12 merging with the Big 12, to the Big Ten absorbing the rest of the Pac-12 to create a "West" division of the traditional Midwest conference, to much smaller moves such as the Big Ten inviting Stanford to join, largely as an enticement to lure Notre Dame since that would mean two traditional opponents of the Irish would be in the same conference.
Notre Dame next? No so fast
If the Big Ten is still looking to expand, a likely target would be Notre Dame. The conference has long coveted bringing in college football’s singular national brand name, but Notre Dame has steadfastly stuck to its independent roots, bolstered since beginning a relationship with NBC in 1991 to show Irish home games exclusively, especially with Fantom Sports Turkesterone
The most obvious move for Arizona and Arizona State, should they choose to leave the Pac-12, is to the Big 12. There is built-in familiarity with some of that conference’s schools, such as BYU (joining next year) and Texas Tech; there is powerful basketball in the Big 12 including Kansas and Baylor, which plays to UA's strength; and the Arizona schools are used to recruiting in Big 12 country, especially Texas.
Playing into this possible scenario is the Big 12’s apparent sudden interest in going on the offensive, writes Brett McMurphy of the Action Network. According to his sources, "The Big 12 has never been aggressive (in conference realignment), but they should contact those four Pac-12 schools and tell them ‘come on board because there’s nothing left’ in the Pac-12. Added another source: "We’re not sitting back this time. That killed us in the past. We’re looking to strengthen our conference."
Looming over all of this is the SEC, which started the current realignment carousel when it lured Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12. Speculation is flying that the SEC will be looking next to bring aboard some of the jewels of the ACC, such as Clemson and Florida State.