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Pac-12 Football: With the SEC Adding Teams, Should the Conference Expand?

Pac-12 Football: Parity After Dark and the Playoff Problem

With the SEC looking to expand to 16 teams, should the Pac-12 look to add as well?

With Oklahoma and Texas expected to leave the Big 12 in favor of the SEC, expansion or realignment could touch every conference in college football. The Pac-12 has a stable group of 12 teams in place, but the league may need to weigh additions if the Big Ten and ACC expand to 16 programs. Whether to add or not, it’s a tough question for new commissioner George Kliavkoff. The Pac-12 hopes to land a windfall of cash in the conference’s looming television deal, but are there any programs the league could add to actually help improve its financial standing and on-field product?

Realignment and expansion are hot topics once again in college football. Athlon Sports’ writers and editors debate whether or not the Pac-12 should expand to 14 or 16 teams: 

Pac-12 Football: With the SEC Adding Teams, Should the Conference Expand?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

It’s important to keep in mind any additions for a conference have to add value and not make the pie of revenue smaller for each of the 12 teams currently in the Pac-12. I’m not sure there’s a team that adds a ton of value and increases the revenue streams to the Pac-12 right now. The only move that makes sense is to add from the Big 12 if every conference shifts to 16 teams. Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas and Texas Tech could be solid additions if that scenario unfolds. And of course, television partners have to agree the addition of those four teams would increase the $$$ coming in the television deal. If I’m new commissioner George Kliavkoff, I would probably hold at 12 teams right now and survey the landscape once it’s time to sign a new media deal in 2023 or ’24.

Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)

If the SEC's power move presents the Pac-12 with a chance to make one of its own, I would strongly consider it. And while I may be fretting too much about geography, the top two targets for me would be BYU and Boise State. BYU has enjoyed its football independence but should the Cougars choose to return to a conference, they would be quite the pick-up for the Pac-12. I also think the Broncos have earned an opportunity to move up to a Power 5 conference. Now neither of these additions is close to the same level of significance as Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC (or if Notre Dame chose to join the ACC or Big Ten), but I don't think adding BYU or Boise State will do anything to hurt the Pac-12's reputation or knock the conference any lower down in the pecking order. And it's not like the current members have been doing gangbusters on the gridiron these past several seasons.

Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB)

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Of all of the conferences that could benefit the most from expansion after the SEC makes its move, it may be the Pac-12. Expanding its reach into Texas has more upside potential for the conference compared to any possible gains the Big Ten or ACC would benefit from. It may not be as sexy an expansion move as previous realignment changes around college football, but the Pac-12 would be wise to evaluate its options thoroughly as it lags behind every other conference significantly in revenue distribution.

Eric Sorenson (@Stitch_Head)

The Pac-12 has looked like a Toyota Yaris that is wearing slicks trying to climb up a mountain of mud. They almost had a “Pac 16” come about a decade ago when the conference expansion madness began, at one point looking like it was going to add Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. At that time, then-conference commissioner Larry Scott said, “The level of excitement and interest that happened around the superconference idea - the positive feedback I got from TV networks and others - suggests to me that at some point in the future the superconference will emerge. But I can’t predict when that will be.”

Guess what? That superconference idea needs to happen now. The Pac-12 can’t afford to let the poaching of the Big 12 pass them by. Adding OSU, TCU, Tech and Baylor seems almost vital to the Pac-12 beginning to restore its football legitimacy. After those four are in the fold, go ahead and add BYU and Boise State. Sure, that’d make the Pac-12 a three-time zone conference, but it needs to be proactive as hell. Sitting back and doing nothing will assure the college football world the Pac doesn’t care about pigskin.

And while you’re at it guys, can you go ahead and get the Pac 12 Network added to my DIRECTV subscription? Gah!

J.P. Scott (@TheJPScott)

Yes, the Pac-12 needs to move to 16 to preserve its status as the major power player on the West Coast and not leave the door open for another conference to encroach on such a title. You need schools with strong academics in markets that can produce the attendance in the revenue sports. For that reason, the Pac-12 should add Oklahoma State, giving them a foothold in the Oklahoma City market. After that, you move to add San Diego State, UNLV, and BYU.

Aaron Tallent (@AaronTallent)

Yes. The Pac-12 will likely pursue Oklahoma State, Houston, TCU, and BYU.