The four remaining Pac-12 schools still aboard for next season — California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State — have options if they are looking for another conference.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is exploring the possibility of adding the West Coast schools, with an emphasis on California and Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the ACC was not making its internal discussion public and the conversations were still in early stages.
The American Athletic Conference also has interest in expanding West and adding all four Pac-12 teams, a person with direct knowledge of that league’s internal discussion told AP on condition of anonymity. The AAC has schools as far West as the Dallas area.
The Pac-12 lost five members last week after a potential media rights contract with Apple left the schools seeking a better deal. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah announced they would join Colorado in the Big 12 next year while Oregon and Washington decided to follow USC and UCLA to the Big Ten, also next summer.
The abrupt departures have raised the possibility that the Pac-12, which dates to 1916, will completey dissolve sooner rather than later.
The Mountain West is the most logical spot for the Pac-12 schools to land geographically if they wanted to leave their former conference behind altogether. A person familiar with discussions in that league told AP that its leaders have been strategizing the possibility of trying to add Pac-12 schools since last week.
The MWC and the AAC are so-called Group of Five conferences, where adding Power Five schools would be considered an upgrade in most cases.
The ACC, however, is a fellow Power Five conference that seems like a strange option for the Pac-12 orphans. It has 14 members, none farther West than Louisville. But while the cross-country travel would be challenging, Stanford and Cal do fit the profile of a league that has the likes of Duke, Wake Forest and Boston College.
The ACC has been exploring ways to bring in more revenue to keep up with the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference and Florida State leaders have insisted the ACC must do something because of what they say is an unfavorable media rights contract. Adding the Northern California schools could extend the footprint of the ACC Network and possibly increase its value.
As for Cal and Stanford, with the Big Ten and Big 12 seemingly done expanding, they don’t appear to have another Power Five option.