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The Pac-12 can be rebuilt with the Washington State Cougars as a conference cornerstone.
The once mighty Pac-12 is now the crumbling Pac-4. After raids by the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, they are down to Wazzu, Oregon State, Cal, and Stanford.
On Monday, San Diego State tried unsuccessfully to rally a few of their Mountain West Conference brethren to jump ship and join a revamped Pac-Whatever.
Unfortunately, they were shot down. A conference call with MWC presidents yielded a statement of solidarity.
Where have we heard that before? Washington State Cougars fans know all too well that today’s commitment can change in a matter of hours if the money is right.
In reality, San Diego State doesn’t need to spearhead a big breakaway. SDSU President Adela la Torre only needs to pry one or two of UNLV, Nevada, Colorado State, or Fresno State away.
While that might be hard for a school like Stanford to swallow, it’s a life raft for the Washington State Cougars et al. Besides, if the Cardinal are counting on the ACC to save them, another big reality check is headed to Northern California. With Florida State, Clemson, Miami, and a few others complaining about revenue distribution now, it’s hard to believe enough schools would vote to dilute the money pool further.
Here’s how it works
Start with the Pac-4 and San Diego State. In terms of media markets, that’s the Bay Area, Southern California, Portland, and Seattle. The latter two cities are where the alums live.
Colorado State adds Denver, UNLV, or Nevada brings in Las Vegas, and Fresno State is located in California’s Central Valley. Only two need to jump ship, but it can work with one.
Mountain West members currently get a distribution of about $4M per school from television revenue. Before the breakup, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff negotiated a streaming deal with Apple that would have paid each member about $20M plus incentives.
Obviously, that deal is off the table. But by making an offer, it shows Apple wants to get into the college football business and has the money to do so. How about half that amount for a remade Pac-12 plus subscriber incentives? More than doubling their revenue should entice one or two schools.
The final piece raids the American Athletic Conference of SMU (Dallas), Rice (Houston), and Tulane (New Orleans). Other contenders include New Mexico State, UTEP, and Texas-San Antonio from Conference USA.
That puts the Pac-10 (or so) back in business and, depending on who joins, should keep their Power Five status intact until the next big round of realignment somewhere around 2029 or 2030. More importantly, the conference champion goes to the BCS playoff with a chance to make some noise and prove their worth.
While it’s important for the Washington State Cougars to be affiliated with other top academic institutions, it isn’t a deal breaker. But for the ivory tower crowds in Berkeley and Palo Alto, Colorado State, UNLV, Nevada, Rice, Tulane, UTEP, and UTSA are all R1 research institutions. Additionally, SMU is ranked in the top 100 academically, and CSU is in the top third.
For now, the light that the Washington State Cougars see at the end of the tunnel isn’t necessarily an oncoming train.