Realignment Today: All eyes on the Pac-12 for the rest of the week, even if the conference deciding to expand is highly unlikely
From the moment Oklahoma and Texas first announced that they were leaving the Big 12 Conference for the greener bank accounts, I mean pastures, of the SEC, a huge chunk of the Kansas fan base immediately put its focus on KU’s chances of joining the Big Ten.
While that may still be the most desired outcome — if it’s even possible — it’s another of the remaining power five conferences that bears watching this week.
Shortly after yesterday’s groundbreaking announcement of the alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff told multiple media outlets that the Pac-12 would announce by the end of the week whether it intends to expand.
The fact that there’s such a quick turnaround on that answer leads me to believe that we’re simply waiting for a no.
But in these uncertain times, the mere fact that one of the conferences out there that could provide a lifeline to at least some of the remaining eight Big 12 schools who have no idea what their future holds means it’s worth tracking.
Shortly before the newly announced three-way alliance became a thing, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Kliavkoff met to discuss the current landscape of college athletics. The hope then, among fans of the Big 12, was that those two conferences would form some kind of partnership. It never happened. And now the Big 12 has been left out of the alliance altogether.
Still, Kliavkoff seems like a leader who has his head on straight and he also appears to be genuinely exploring all kinds of options for the good of the Pac-12, possible expansion being one of them.
Earlier this month, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the following:
“I am not actively poaching any school or convincing anyone to leave their existing conference, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I wasn't listening to schools that wanted to go in the Pac-12. And we've had a lot of them reach out. Probably all of the ones you would expect and several you'd be surprised by."
As already mentioned, the smart money this week is on hearing that the Pac-12 has no intention of adding any schools to its conference at this time. Saying anything else would seem to run counter to the whole point of announcing the big alliance on Tuesday.
But just because the Pac-12 says no today — if that’s in fact how it goes down — does not mean it is etched in stone forever and can never change. Same goes for the Big Ten or the ACC, for that matter.
If we’ve learned anything during the past decade, and, more specifically in the past couple of years and months, it’s that things are ever-changing in the world of college athletics and today’s stability is only as good as tomorrow’s actions.
Kansas to the Pac-12 remains way far down on my list of likely outcomes for the Jayhawks when all of this is settled. But it certainly doesn’t hurt any of the Big 12 schools searching for hope to know that at least one of the power conferences is entertaining the idea of expansion as we speak.