Within hours, the rumor that USC and UCLA would leave the Pacific conference their brands helped establish to join the BIG 10 was confirmed with the t’s all crossed and the i’s sufficiently dotted. The dramatic move wasn’t too different from what we saw last year when flagship programs BIG XII announced their sudden intention to join their old enemies Missouri and Texas A&M in joining the almighty SEC. The difference is that the college football landscape is dramatically different now than it was just 12 months ago. There are no more “free agents” like BYU who can be scooped up and housed in a Power Five (probably being the operative word here, as Notre Dame is definitely not going to accept an offer to join the ranks of Colorado and the United States). State of Oregon when the BIG 10 sit there in all their glory, just waiting to give them an invite). Sure, there are a handful of Mountain West teams that could be brought in to fill the Los Angeles-sized hole, but Boise and San Diego did little to recoup the loss of the city’s second-largest market. television in the United States and two of the most famous programs in college sports.
This level of corporate backstabbing is usually reserved for HBO dramas. Rarely does one of America’s greatest pastimes get and your Brute?‘d on such a seismic level that a bastion of the sport, known simply as ‘The Conference of Champions’ with a history that is intertwined with that of college athletics itself, is left bleeding and on life support . Needless to say, it’s fair to assume that Utah will undoubtedly be impacted, and it’s time to unveil what’s next for Ute athletics.
At present, the PAC-12, and the University for that matter, have been relatively silent outside of boilerplate press releases that described the shock and disappointment we all feel, but the general consensus is that the conference is on fragile foundations. It’s an incredibly fluid situation with conflicting reports left and right, but as of this writing, credible reports suggest the BIG 10 has informed Oregon and Washington, the next two programs most precious of the west coast, that their considerations are on hold until Our Lady clarifies their intentions. Once the Notre Dame domino falls, the future will likely become a little clearer.
The reality is that Salt Lake is one of the top 30 (and growing) TV markets and one of the few markets nationwide that attracts over 1,000,000 viewers. The University of Utah is AAU-accredited with world-class research facilities, and the athletic department has top-notch facilities and for-profit programs in football and gymnastics, as well as a historically strong basketball program that is currently working on what a successful rebuild could be. Whether or not all of that is enough to warrant a lucrative Big 10 invite is debatable, but that doesn’t exactly mean Utah is left out. We now know that 20+ super team conferences are the inevitable future, and the BIG 10 and SEC are already in charge. Utah is not Notre Dame and therefore cannot control its own destiny. They are precious, but not precious sufficient. Being aggressive here won’t make any difference. Ute fans have to accept a “wait and see” approach because eventually one of two scenarios is more than likely to play out at this point: Utah, along with other PAC-12 schools, become members of the BIG 10 and live happily ever after. . Alternatively, the SEC and the BIG 10 decimate the ACC, choosing the most profitable programs, leaving the second-tier teams no choice but to form a new conference alongside the remnants of the PAC-12, and ultimately merge with the Big rebuilt. 12 to form a third super conference to rival the BIG 10 and the SEC.
It can take days, weeks, months, or even a year, so buckle up and do what you can to enjoy the ride. We will inform you of the final destination once there.