Eight potential candidates should the Pac-12 look to expand


The idea of conference realignment and expansion is not new in the world of college football. After the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners announced that they would be going from the Big 12 to the SEC a few years ago, it opened the door for both the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins to jump ship and leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten last summer. Both of those moves are yet to officially take place, but with those moves on the horizon, it has led to speculation of more realignment in the future.

For the Oregon Ducks, there is a belief that they may end up moving to the Big Ten in the coming years, along with another school like Washington, or Utah. However, before that happens, the Pac-12 appears to be making a last-ditch effort to try and expand itself, working to get back to 12 teams after losing the Los Angeles schools.

According to a report from Brett McMurphy on Tuesday night, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff will be taking a visit to SMU on Wednesday, with the potential goal of adding the Mustangs to the conference in an expansion move. SMU would likely not be the only team that the conference adds, but could be the first major domino to fall.

Even if the Pac-12 were to add a couple of these teams, it's hard to see them leveling up enough to be seen as one of the major conferences in college football. A lot of the candidates for expansion are typically smaller schools from non-Power 5 conferences. For example, you aren't going to convince a school like Oklahoma State or Texas Tech to move to the Pac-12, with the Big-12 sitting pretty at the moment. You also have ACC schools that would be good candidates, but they're locked into a TV deal that makes realignment infeasible for the time being.

So who could Kliavkoff look to add to the conference to bring it up to full strength? We've got a few candidates in mind.

SMU Mustangs


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: AAC

Media Market: Dallas, Texas (No. 5)


Obviously, SMU is near the top of the list of potential candidates for Pac-12 expansion, with Kliavkoff heading to Dallas this week for potential talks. The media market in Dallas is among the biggest in the nation, and SMU has a large alumnus base and solid athletics.

San Diego State Aztecs


Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: San Diego, California (No. 27)


San Diego State is up there with SMU as one of the top options for the Pac-12. While they don't have as big of a media market as SMU, the athletics are far better at SDSU, with both football and basketball growing into nationally recognized programs.

UNLV Rebels


Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: Las Vegas, Nevada (No. 40)


UNLV doesn't quite have the football team that would compete regularly in the Pac-12, but they do have a relatively large Las Vegas media market that could keep them in the mix with potential expansion.

Fresno State Bulldogs


Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: Fresno, California (No. 55)


Fresno State seems like a football program that would be able to compete and thrive in a bigger conference. They also bring a sizeable media market in California, but outside of football and baseball, there isn't much to offer for the Bulldogs.

Boise State Broncos


Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: Boise, Idaho (No. 101)


Much like Fresno State, I think that Boise State would be served well by moving to a Power 5 conference, with their football team continually competing at a high level among G5 schools. The media market in Boise isn't huge, but the Broncos have a loyal fanbase that they'd bring along.

UTSA Roadrunners


John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Current Conference: Conference USA

Media Market: San Antonio, Texas (No. 31)


I think that UTSA makes a lot more sense in conference expansion than a lot of people may think. Their football program is on the rise, with a great season in 2022, and they bring a sizeable San Antonio market to the table as well.

Nevada Wolfpack


(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: Reno, Nevada (No. 104)


Nevada is certainly lower down on the list of potential expansion teams for me. They are not quite up to the level of competition in football with other Pac-12 teams, and the Reno media market is decent, but nothing that will make them a must-add.

Colorado State Rams


Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics

Current Conference: Mountain West

Media Market: Denver/Fort Collins, Colorado (No. 16)


Much like Nevada, Colorado State could be an add if you really need schools, but their athletics have really been lacking as of late. They do bring a nice media market to the table, though.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire


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