The college sports offseason has no interest in playing second fiddle to just about anything this year, with Jon Wilner delivering an absolute bombshell that will completely shake everything up.
Source: USC and UCLA are planning to leave for the Big Ten as early as 2024. Move *has not been finalized* at the highest levels of power.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 30, 2022
The Pac 12, which used to be the Pac 8, then the Pac 10, then the Pac 12, is losing two of its marquee programs to the Big Ten, the Big Ten’s answer to the SEC poaching Oklahoma and Texas.
Now, when viewing all of these conference changes, it is important to essentially completely view the situation entirely from the prospect of college football, because that is the driving force here.
So the question, naturally, for Gonzaga fans who have been clamoring for something other than the West Coast Conference for years is: Does that suddenly mean a move to the “Pac 12” is on the table?
Yes, pack your bags, we are on the way out.
The Zags seriously looked at the Mountain West Conference a few years ago, which would be a slight upgrade, but ultimately stuck around the WCC while extracting some concessions, including a changed league schedule and non-conference requirements for the other WCC schools.
However, with the departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, that trickled down to BYU leaving the WCC for the Big 12. The WCC just lost one of its marquee sports schools, and for the Zags, that is a big blow.
The issue with going to the Pac 12 was always the college football part of the coin. The idea of the Pac 12 accepting the Zags men’s and women’s programs (and maybe everything else), without a college football team was always nonsense. At the end of the day, college football is what rules the overall college conference landscape. It was an absolute pipe dream to think the Pac 12 would turn into the Pac 13 for basketball and remain at 12 schools for football.
But that was yesterday. And today, the Pac 12 just took a seismic hit. The conversation has immediately shifted, and although, again, college football is the name of the game, Gonzaga is a program that instantaneously brings money into the conference. And let’s be honest, like all things in life, these moves are about nothing but money.
Absolutely not, stay away with a ten foot pole.
But, again, college football. And this:
Source: Don't assume the Big Ten is done.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 30, 2022
If the Big Ten isn’t done, there are still the very nationally high-profile football schools of Washington and Oregon to take a look at. Don’t think that Stanford, Cal, Arizona, and Arizona State are going to sit idly twiddling their thumbs as well. If the Pac 12 is on the verge of imploding, probably the worst idea possible is to hitch yourself to that wagon.
As wacky as the travel would be for the Big East, that is an exponentially better idea than joining the Pac 8, or Pac 6, or whatever fragile shell of a previous life is left remaining.
Much of this is the Pac 12 policies finally coming home to roost after getting outpaced years ago. The Pac 12 Network is an unmitigated disaster that isn’t even available across the entire country easily. Gonzaga’s current media deal is arguably better exposure than what the Pac 12 gets for basketball.
So should Gonzaga move? Absolutely not.