PAC 12

Ranking Pac-12 expansion candidates: Best fits to join conference amid college realignment

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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Who should the Pac-12 add in conference expansion amid college realignment? College writers have suggestions.

The Pac-12 is losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten as college conference realignment continues.

Will it add any teams in college conference expansion?

Speculation and rumors surrounding the future of the conference continues to swirl after Pac-12 Football Media Day last week.

Several sites have ranked potential candidates to join the conference, should it decide to expand.

Take a look at who those sites say are the best options to join the Pac-12.

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Fansided: San Diego State, Boise State, SMU best options for Pac-12 in conference expansion

The site ranked San Diego State No. 1, Boise State No. 2 and SMU No. 3 in its rankings of the ten best expansion candidates for the conference.

Of San Diego State, John Scimeca wrote: "This one is the obvious choice. Don’t overthink it, Pac-12 schools. The Aztecs are a solid football program that thrives in southern California, where the conference is about to lose its two cash cows. San Diego County is home to 3.3 million people, and the university is building a brand-new football stadium. The Aztecs just completed one of the best seasons in school history in 2021, winning 12 games. That marks four of the last six years in which San Diego State has won 10 or more games. This addition feels like an eventuality… unless another power conference pulls a surprise move and scoops up the Aztecs from the Mountain West before the Pac-12 does."

It had Hawaii ranked as the Pac-12's fourth-best option, followed by Air Force, Gonzaga, North Dakota State, Fresno State, UC Davis and UNLV.

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Athlon Sports: San Diego State No. 1 fit for Pac-12's next school,  Big 12 options next

Steven Lassan wrote of the Big 12 possibility: "Although it's a longshot for Big 12 teams to leave for the Pac-12 (10 now), television dollars and stability will play a huge role in this. If the money and stability are better in the Pac-12, teams from the Big 12 will at least have something to think about. This could be any of the top teams in lucrative markets or with competitive products for television purposes (potentially Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Houston and TCU). Considering the stability the Big 12 will possess once Oklahoma and Texas depart, along with the fact these programs were passed over by the Pac-12 last fall, there doesn't seem to be a huge rush to exit the conference to go West. However, Kliavkoff has to at least inquire about their interest."

The site also ranked Boise State, Fresno State, SMU and UNLV as potential schools for the conference to target.

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Buffaloes Wire: Texas schools a possibility for Pac-12 expansion

The site included some other schools as possibilities for the conference. Its list included TCU, Texas Tech and Houston.

Jack Carlough wrote of TCU's potential fit: "While TCU’s religious history may not be attractive for the Pac-12, the Horned Frogs would be a valuable first footprint in Texas."

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College Football News: Nevada, Boise State, Fresno State, UNLV, San Diego State ranked among options for Pac-12

Pete Fiutak wrote of the Broncos' potential fit in the Pac-12: "For football fans this is an easy fit. Business-wise, this is tough without a whole lot of eyeballs, and with the region already partly taken up already by Washington State and Oregon State."

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Trojans Wire: Fresno State, San Diego State easy choices as primary Pac-12 expansion candidates

Matt Wadleigh writes: "Fresno State and San Diego State are easy choices as primary candidates, and a lot of other Mountain West teams would be interested in moving to the Pac-12. SMU has also emerged in some conversations and industry evaluations. Poaching Houston from the Big 12 isn’t likely, but George Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 hasn’t decided whether to go after a Big 12 school as an expansion possibility."

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The Athletic: San Diego State, Boise State first calls for Pac-12, Houston, TCU, Texas Tech next

On Houston and TCU, Doug Haller wrote: Nine months ago, with the sport still in shock after Texas and Oklahoma announced their SEC intentions, the Pac-12 considered expansion. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Houston and TCU were the conference’s top targets. Ultimately, the Pac-12 stuck with 12, Houston settled into the Big 12 and everything looked fine. Until Thursday. Location-wise, this works. Dallas-Fort Worth is the nation’s fifth-largest media market. Houston is eighth. This would also put the Pac-12 into the heart of talent-rich Texas, which would help with recruiting. Houston makes sense. TCU brings one issue in that the Pac-12 typically has had little interest in schools with religious affiliations. But over the past several years, TCU has distanced itself from those ties. The Pac-12 is also in no position to be picky."

The site also listed SMU and UNLV as potential options for the conference to consider in expansion.

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

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