USC and UCLA are joining the Big 10. The Pac-12 has now lost two of it’s three biggest brands. Oregon and Washington seem to be on the way out as well, and Utah/Stanford fans are hoping for a Big 10 invitation.
Conference expansion is back.
This time, BYU is not as much on the outside looking in. BYU is in a power conference, and the Pac-12, the conference who turned their noses up at BYU for decades, may be at the mercy of BYU’s new conference.
BYU has little to no say in the ultimate decision of if the Big XII expands. But that’s not to say there isn’t a best case scenario for BYU if the Big XII does choose to add new members.
Breaking: USC and UCLA are considering leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024, a source confirmed to ESPN.— ESPN (@espn) June 30, 2022
The news was first reported by San Jose Mercury News. https://t.co/Z3DXEqb5Em pic.twitter.com/Npm9pCuMLe
First, let’s quickly go over the worst case scenario. Worst case scenario for BYU would be a Big 10/Pac-12 joint raid of the Big XII with BYU being ignored. If the Big 10 added West Virginia, Kansas, Iowa State and Cincinnati, and the Pac-12 added Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and Houston/Texas Tech, BYU would be left in a conference with Kansas State, UCF, and either Houston or TTU. The Big XII would then have two options: raid the MWC, or disband. Neither option is good for BYU, but a MWC takeover, keeping the Big XII name and commissioner would probably be best.
Is any of this likely? Maybe not. The Big 10 is looking for major brands (think Notre Dame), and the Pac-12 is trying to stay alive. With over half of the remaining Pac-12 teams looking for greener pastures, the likelihood of the Pac-12’s demise (as currently constituted) is much higher.
With the doom and gloom out of the way, let’s look at BYU’s best case scenario, which is for the Big XII to raid the Pac-12.
With the Pac-12 in defense mode, the Big XII can play offense. We’ve already heard rumblings of the Arizona schools having reached out to the Big XII, as well as smoke regarding Utah and Colorado. If the Big XII does increase its membership, here’s who we can hope they add, and how it impacts BYU.
The obvious first choice is Oregon. The brass in Eugene have already reportedly been told by the Big 10 that they’re waiting on Notre Dame before making a decision on adding Oregon/Washington.
Sources: Oregon and Washington have been told by @bigten that it is standing pat for now. Waiting on a decision by Notre Dame.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 1, 2022
This would bring in one of college football’s largest and most recognizable brands, and would include benefits for many of the schools teamed up with Nike.
The other top choice would be Washington, who, as mentioned above, is in the same boat as Oregon. Seattle is the nation’s 14th largest TV market, and Washington is the most storied program remaining in the Pac-12.
The final ideal choices would be the Arizona schools. Phoenix is the 12th largest TV market in the country, and bringing the Wildcats along with ASU would give the Big XII another great rivalry to market.
After those four, you have Utah, Colorado, and Stanford. Many people would argue that adding Utah would be the best move for the Big XII. That may be true, but is it the best move for BYU? Throughout the last few decades, Utah has shown that they are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes, leaving everyone else behind them and abandoning decades of tradition, to find various amounts of success on the national stage. And hey, who can really blame them?
Imagine a scenario in five to 10 years where college football is undergoing another metamorphosis. Things are going back to the way they were, and conferences decide it’s time to downsize. The Big XII added Utah, ASU, UofA and Colorado to the conference in 2024, and the now 16 teams are meeting to decide how to proceed, and who to revoke league membership from. Would it not be in Utah’s best interest to elect BYU to be removed? Then, Utah could have more leverage in the TV market and in state recruiting. Utah has no loyalty to the rivalry or to BYU in general. If BYU advocates for Utah to join the Big XII, it will be detrimental to their program.
Outside of Utah, Colorado and Stanford are left. Stanford moves the needle academically, whereas Colorado brings a pro sports-saturated market. If I were Brett Yormark, I’d go for Stanford strictly due to them being an Ivy-League level school academically, and the potential for football excellence.
Best case after all is said and done: the Big XII adds Oregon, Washington and the Arizona schools. While this wouldn’t quite propel the Big XII to the same level as the Big 10 and SEC, it would clearly make them the third best conference. A “power 2” would likely be a power 3, and BYU would be in the middle of it all.