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Weekly Six Pac: Conference Teeters as Arizona Deliberates

Pac-12 leaders hope long-awaited media deal coheres remaining teams

Arizona State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1. The very fate of this weekly post may hang in the balance as the Pac-12 (10? 8?) teeters on the brink of extinction. Here are the latest updates: George Kliavkoff will present a media rights deal to the Pac-12 presidents, likely at a meeting on Tuesday. The details of the media rights deal are mostly speculation at this point, but the whispers have been for a deal that focuses primarily on steaming TV and might guarantee as little as $20m per school, per year, with the potential for ratings escalators. Meanwhile, Arizona is meeting to decide on their own next steps and it seems very possible that they will announce their departure for the Big 12 in the next few days. Where does that leave UW? A conference with the eight remaining teams- or perhaps 10-12 with further expansion- would be feasible with a media rights deal that earns each school north of $30m per year, in the ballpark of what teams in the Big 12 are getting. If the $20m baseline is accurate and UW and Oregon are stuck with the leftovers, the PNW schools will immediately look for a lifeboat for the Big 10 or another creative solution. Here is more detail from Jon Canzano’s paid blog.

Washington v Arizona State Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

2. While Arizona has been at the center of the storm, Arizona State’s future has not come up nearly as often. The Sun Devils’ fans have many of the same questions as UW’s followers. Will their long-term conference still be around for them in the coming years? If not, will there be room for them in a conference that generates enough revenue to allow them to stay competitive?

3. Regardless of where Arizona plays their games in the coming years, their roster appears to be on the up-swing. In recent weeks, they received a commitment from the top in-state player, Elijah Rushing, who is also one of the bets defensive prospects in the country. This week, they paired Rushing with QB Demond Williams, the top offensive high schooler in the state. Williams chose Jedd Fisch’s program over offers from several SEC teams, including Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Auburn.

4. The topic of Pac-12 expansion was mostly a fun diversion over the past few years. It took on a bit more relevance when USC and UCLA announced their pending departure. Even at that point, it was debatable whether expansion offered a better future than a 10-team conference. With another school on its way out and a fourth potentially looming, expansion has become an existential requirement. SI’s All Utes looks again at the likeliest expansion candidates who are interested in making the jump. One name on the list that I like is Tulane, which has not been discussed much.

5. One of the likely victims of whirlwind conference realignment is the traditional rivalry game. With so many new scheduling requirements, it’s hard to lock in certain opponents or dates. USC is facing that dilemma already in its departure to the Big 10. The Trojans’ annual matchup with Notre Dame late in the season has been a staple for my football watching life. It sounds like the matchup is likely to continue, but the date might not be sacrosanct as the school looks for solutions that converge with Big 10 scheduling needs.

USC Trojans play Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a storied football rivalry, held in 2022 at the Los Angeles Memorial Colisum on Saturday night, Nov. 26, 2022. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

6. In the interest of talking about at least one thing that isn’t conference realignment, here’s a story from Addicted to Quack about the Oregon volleyball team’s upcoming season.