As the calendar flips to July, the Big Ten and Big 12 expand and the Pac-12 is officially down to two teams


The Pac-12 era is now over.

Oregon, Washington, UCLA and USC are officially Big Ten teams as of Monday, while Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are heading to the Big 12. Cal and Stanford are now also somehow members of the ACC, and Oregon State and Washington State are the last two teams standing.

July 1 is yet another milestone in the massively shifting college sports landscape. We’ve all known for months that the Pac-12 as we know it was disintegrating. But there’s still something profoundly sad about that finally becoming a reality.

The league that billed itself the “Conference of Champions” was an incredibly fun league even if it was marred by dysfunction and a lack of College Football Playoff appearances. After Oregon made the inaugural four-team playoff, Washington was the only other program to make the CFP over the past decade. Overall, the Pac-12 appeared in the playoff just three times in 10 years.

We could always count on “Pac-12 After Dark” to produce magical and chaotic moments at the end of marathon college football Saturdays. Who can forget UCLA beating Washington State 67-63 in 2019 with 50 second-half points? The Bruins trailed by 32 at one point, yet won despite WSU QB Anthony Gordon’s nine TD passes because the Cougars turned the ball over six times.

Or what about in 2014, when Arizona State capped a big comeback with a Hail Mary from Mike Bercovici to Jaelen Strong that beat USC?

All 12 of the teams that called the old Pac-12 home for years will still be playing nightcaps on a regular basis in 2024 and beyond. But it’s just simply not going to feel the same when UCLA is hosting Minnesota and Rutgers is visiting USC.

We can blame greediness and capitalism in “amateur” athletics for the conference’s demise. As it became clear that the dozen schools weren’t going to get the media rights deal they wanted for the 2024 football season and beyond, UCLA and USC mortally wounded the conference when they announced they were heading to the Big Ten and its land of TV riches in the summer of 2022.

A year later, the Pac-12 was put in hospice when it became clear that it couldn’t survive without its Los Angeles schools. As no suitable new media deal could be agreed upon, Colorado left for the Big 12 and other defections followed out of necessity.

The losers in all of this are Oregon State and Washington State. The two schools are left to play a schedule consisting of mostly Mountain West opponents in 2024, and they’ll continue to fly the Pac-12 banner as long as they can. But a two-team conference isn’t tenable for very long.

Who knows, maybe the Pac-12 will be reborn with Mountain West schools joining OSU and WSU as part of a Pac-12 Part Deux. But if that happens, it’ll feel even weirder than a Big Ten with 18 schools and a Big 12 with 16.

But that’s the new reality in college athletics. After all, Cal and Stanford are now playing in a conference that boasts the name of the ocean on the opposite side of the country. Whatever makes the most cents makes the most sense, even if it’s not logical or well thought-out.

  • Arizona: Pac-12 to Big 12

  • Arizona State: Pac-12 to Big 12

  • Army: Independent to AAC (Football only)

  • Cal: Pac-12 to ACC

  • Colorado: Pac-12 to Big 12

  • Kennesaw State: FCS to Conference USA

  • Oklahoma: Big 12 to SEC

  • Oregon: Pac-12 to Big Ten

  • SMU: AAC to ACC

  • Stanford: Pac-12 to ACC

  • Texas: Big 12 to SEC

  • UCLA: Pac-12 to Big Ten

  • USC: Pac-12 to Big Ten

  • Utah: Pac-12 to Big 12

  • Washington: Pac-12 to Big Ten



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