Big 12 Bolsters Expansion with Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah from Struggling Pac-12

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Big 12 Bolsters Expansion with Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah from Struggling Pac-12

In a groundbreaking development that is reshaping the landscape of college sports, the Big 12 conference announced on Friday night that Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah will be joining its ranks in 2024. This move comes as a significant blow to the Pac-12, which is witnessing the departure of key members to other conferences. The Big 12 commissioner, Brett Yormark, expressed excitement about the inclusion of these premier academic and athletic institutions, while the Pac-12 faces an uncertain future with just four schools remaining after this season.

A Historic Transformation

The Pac-12, with a storied history dating back to 1915 as the Pacific Coast Conference, has experienced numerous transformations over the years. It evolved into the Pac-8 in 1968 and later became the Pac-10 in 1978 after welcoming Arizona and Arizona State. In 2011, Utah and Colorado joined the conference amid significant realignments in the Football Bowl Subdivision. However, with recent departures and impending exits, the Pac-12 now finds itself with a dwindling lineup of California, Oregon State, Stanford, and Washington State.

The Pac-12’s Dilemma

The departure of key schools to other conferences has raised concerns about the Pac-12’s viability as an FBS conference. With only four schools remaining, the future of the conference is uncertain. UCLA and Southern California have already announced their move to the Big Ten next year, leaving the Pac-12 with a diminished roster. The conference expressed disappointment over the situation and is actively seeking the best possible future for its remaining member universities.

The Big 12’s Gains

In contrast, the Big 12 emerges from the past year-plus of realignments in a strong position. Adding Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah brings the conference’s total teams to 16 after the forthcoming departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. Unlike the Pac-12, the Big 12 has successfully replaced national brands with a more diverse and deeper roster. Earlier this summer, the Big 12 welcomed Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston into its fold.

A Closer Look at the Incoming Members: Arizona and Arizona State, former members of the Border Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, joined the Pac-12 in 1978. The Wildcats have been a powerhouse in college basketball and achieved football success in the 1980s and 1990s. However, recent years have seen football struggles, with only one winning season since 2016. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils have been less successful in men’s basketball but have had notable moments in football, including a Rose Bowl appearance in 1997 and four recent bowl appearances.

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Utah, formerly part of the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences, became a part of the Pac-12 in 2011. Since then, they have established themselves as one of the conference’s top football programs, securing the past two conference championships. Their return to in-state rivalry with BYU, who left the Mountain West in 2010 and played as an independent, adds excitement to the conference.

Big 12 Bolsters Expansion with Arizona
Big 12 Bolsters Expansion with Arizona

The addition of Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah to the Big 12 signifies a transformative shift in college sports. While the Big 12 gains strength with an expanded and geographically diverse roster, the Pac-12 faces challenges with diminishing numbers. As these changes unfold, the college sports landscape continues to evolve, promising new rivalries and exciting matchups for fans across the nation.

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