The Big 12 notched a coup this week when it plucked Deion Sanders and Colorado from the Pac-12 — starting in 2024 — in the latest round of realignment in college athletics.
And while Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark will look to continue to expand with the addition of more schools, the Pac-12 is in deep trouble and on the brink of becoming irrelevant in the college landscape.
“It’s really good news for the Big 12, but the bigger story is what happens to the Pac-12,” ESPN college football insider Paul Finebaum said Thursday. “It was already a challenge losing USC and UCLA but with this departure, I think you have to honestly look at the Pac-12 no longer as a Power Five conference. It’s a train wreck. … This league is slowly coming undone and might as well be pushed into the Pacific because it is no longer doing anything relevant.”
The Pac-12 will now lose UCLA, USC and Colorado next year when the league’s media rights deal is up. Yormark, meantime, was able to land a rights deal with ESPN and Fox that will pay Colorado $32 million per year, while Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff is still seeking a new rights deal.
Arizona and Arizona may now decide the fate of the Pac-12, as Arizona president Robert C. Robbins told reporters he’s simply waiting to see the Pac-12’s media deal. As of now, there is none.
For those keeping track, the Big 12 will have 14 schools this season before losing Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC next year. With the addition of Colorado in 2024, the league would be at 13. Brett McMurphy of the Action Network reported the league is looking to add 1-3 teams for 2024, which would bring the league to 14 or 16.
“The dream scenario for the Big 12 would be to get the ‘Four Corner’ schools,” a source told McMurphy, referring to Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.
UConn, Memphis, San Diego State and UNLV have also been linked to the Big 12, per McMurphy. UConn is the reigning NCAA champion in basketball but their football team is independent and subpar.
“The odds of remaining at 13 schools in 2024 is slim,” a source told McMurphy. “We need to get to an even number for 2024, and our long-term vision is 16.”
In Colorado, the Big 12 regains a team with regional rivalries that hopes to be ascendant under Sanders, the colorful coach and former NFL star known as “Prime Time.”
“This move is a game changer and we plan on changing the game,” Sanders told 247Sports.com.
Colorado was initially a Big 12 member before leaving (along with Nebraska) in 2012.
A year later, Missouri and Texas A&M also departed the Big 12 for the SEC.
This year, the Big 12 officially added BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in anticipation of Texas and Oklahoma splitting for the SEC next year.
Now Colorado is on the move again, bolstering the Big 12 in an atmosphere where the SEC and the Big Ten are also making big moves and look like the dominant conferences.
The Pac-12, meantime, is on the defensive and on the brink of becoming irrelevant.