PAC 12

Are Pac-12 schools ASU, Arizona a package deal in college conference realignment?

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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Could Wilbur (University of Arizona) and Sparky (Arizona State University) end up in different conferences?

As college conference realignment speculation runs rampant, questions continue to surround the future of Arizona State and Arizona Athletics.

One question that could add to the intrigue surrounding fans of the Arizona schools: Could ASU and Arizona end up in different conferences as a result of college realignment?

247 Sports' Jason Scheer recently tackled that question in an interview with 365 Sports.

When he was asked about Arizona and ASU being tied together in the same conference, Scheer said: "I haven't been able to get a clear answer about that. Every time I asked, it's kind of, 'We're gonna do what's best for ourselves.' My gut tells me that they are tied. I would be really surprised if Arizona moves without ASU or vice versa. It feels like Arizona is kind of driving the train a little bit by being a little more aggressive than ASU, but I would be really surprised that there's a scenario where they don't move together. You got to think, also, once a couple of these schools move in the Pac-12, let's say it's just Arizona and Colorado that decide to move, the other schools have to follow. They'll have no choice. And even if ASU wants to look around or kind of see the landscape or wait a bit, they really won't have that option. And so to me, these schools are pretty tied together. I'd be surprised if they broke up."

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Both schools fall under the purview of the Arizona Board or Regents, the governing body of Arizona's public university system, along with Northern Arizona University.

Both schools have traditionally played in the same conference throughout the years, with heated rivalries developing in many sports.

Big 12 speculation has surrounded both schools, as has talk that they could both remain in the Pac-12.

But could either ASU or Arizona end up joining a different conference from the other, such as the Big Ten, if the situation presented itself?

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It wouldn't be the first time traditional rivals have been in different conferences, should ASU and Arizona somehow go separate ways, as unlikely as that may be.

One example close to Arizona?

Utah is currently in the Pac-12 and in-state rival BYU is in the West Coast Conference (and is independent in football), but is in the process of transitioning to the Big 12.

Utah is a public university, however. BYU is a private university.

The teams still meet often in athletic events in non-conference games.

Interestingly, Utah has often been linked to the Big 12 to potentially join BYU there, along with Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State.

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Nov 27, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch greets Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards after ASU won the 95th Territorial Cup game at Sun Devil Stadium.

Scheer said things could get interesting for the Arizona schools in conference realignment.

"It's tough to say. I don't think so," he told 365 Sports about Arizona moving without ASU. " I really don't, because football kind of rules the decision-making process, and the reality is Arizona football hasn't been attractive in quite a while. And, it's not like ASU football is super attractive, but it's kind of the deal where, similar to the Big Ten wanting USC and UCLA, you want those together to get the whole L.A. market. If you're the big 12 you want those Arizona schools together, and that's why I think it'd be difficult for Arizona to move. Now, if ASU puts its foot down and says, 'We're not going anywhere,' it could get really interesting. I feel confident in saying that if it was totally up to UofA, and what they want, to do with no outside forces, it would be the Big 12 all the way."

Where will the Arizona schools end up in conference realignment, if they leave the Pac-12?

Will they go together?

The speculation surrounding ASU, Arizona and the future of the Pac-12 Conference is bound to continue to swirl in the days ahead.

More:In their words: What athletes, coaches, alumni, have to say about status of Pac-12

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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