The Pac-12 is in shambles. Years of hubris, mismanagement, and a bad television contract have led to USC and UCLA leaving the conference. When you let an egotistical moron like Larry Scott run things to the ground, you'll lose your top two revenue producers to the Big Ten. Without the largest market in college sports, the "Conference of Champions" has become the Mountain West.
Speaking of which, many people speculate that getting Boise State and San Diego State sounds like a plausible move. Both have been respectable football powerhouses in their conference and have even had a presence in college basketball. However, that isn't the best move for the Pac-12 going forward. After all, they won't bring in the money the conference needs to thrive.
The funny thing is that the best move was actually proposed by a fellow Power Five conference. This was after Texas and Oklahoma (two schools that the Pac-12 tried to get themselves) left for the SEC. However, the Pac-12 did what Nintendo executives would've been proud of back in the day: laugh off the proposal and think that they're in a good position when they're actually not.
I'm talking about merging with the Big 12. The conference is likely to lose Oregon, Washington, and even Stanford to the Big Ten in the future. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah are also on the chopping block, potentially as targets of the aforementioned Big 12. Why not just get the merger done and swallow your pride, Pac-12?
Let's get a couple of facts straight: you're not replacing the revenue that both USC and UCLA bring, nor are you replacing their history. You're not going to go toe-to-toe with the Big Ten or SEC in your current state, either. But you will get great football schools like Baylor and Oklahoma State. Both schools have seen a pigskin uprising in recent years, even going against each other in the Big 12 Championship this year.
But the big prize can be found on the basketball side, both for men and women. For the men's side, the Big 12 has produced the last two champions (Baylor and Kansas). In fact, Texas Tech was in the 2019 men's championship before bowing out to Virginia. You'd be replacing one blueblood in UCLA with another in the Jayhawks, too. Keep in mind that Bill Self does an excellent job recruiting and Kansas brings in solid basketball revenue. Rock, chalk, Jayhawk!
Think about how much better Oregon has been on the basketball side, along with the newly revamped Arizona Wildcats. Both schools have made significant leaps in recruiting and have made Pac-12 basketball matter again. The "Conference of Champions" will become a basketball juggernaut with the Ducks, Wildcats, Jayhawks, and Bears fighting for supremacy.
As for the women's side, Baylor has been a powerhouse. For years, Kim Mulkey built the program into a championship college. Even after she left for LSU, the school remains strong in the sport.
You're also getting great colleges in other sports, too. For example, Oklahoma State and Iowa State are strong wrestling programs, with the Cowboys winning 34 national championships. Baylor has a great tennis program for both men and women, winning a combined 18 Big 12 postseason championships.
Merging with the Big 12 also addresses a major issue for the conference: recruiting in high school hotbeds. For the past decade, the Pac-12 has had problems with recruiting in the state of Texas. They failed to pull in four-star recruits or even five-star talent. Then, Lincoln Riley arrives on the scene at USC and makes it look effortless. Unfortunately, USC is on the way out, leaving another void. But schools like Oregon and Baylor can pull in the best talent without any issues.
It's going to be hard to replicate the revenue that the Trojans and Bruins brought in for the Pac-12. This is especially true in football, which has been a sport the conference has neglected for years. With their cash cows leaving for the Big Ten, it's time for George Klivakoff and the remaining Pac-12 athletic directors to face reality and swallow their pride. Otherwise, they'll be talking about who's having the eulogy for the "Conference of Champions."