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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    The Future of the Pac-12

    The Pac-12 conference has dropped to two teams as Stanford and California will be heading cross country to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) next season. With Arizona State and Stanford’s departure, the Pac-12 wrestling conference is down to four teams next season.

    In order to receive allocations as a conference, the Pac-12 would need to add two new teams to it. Although it sounds easy, it is not. Therefore, let’s look at all the potential options that can happen next season with the four teams remaining.


    Hybrid Conference

    Since it seems no Pac-12 teams will be wrestling in the conference next season, the affiliates can create a hybrid conference. Currently, California Baptist and Utah Valley are the only wrestling teams in the Western Athletic Conference. 

    The WAC can also try to bring in the other California schools, Cal Poly and Cal State Bakersfield. In addition, the conference can try to recruit Air Force and Northern Colorado. Both, along with Wyoming, are current affiliate members for other sports. 


    Pac-12 turns to Mountain West

    The most recent news states the Mountain West Conference has reached out to Oregon State and Washington State at the end of August. If the two teams move to the conference, it can be a great way to create wrestling in that conference. Similar to the WAC, the Mountain West can revamp former programs and attempt to bring a program to Washington State.

    Plus, they can extend invitations to the current Pac-12 affiliates to join the conference.


    Go Independent

    If the four Pac-12 teams remaining went independent, their programs would head in separate directions. Oregon State’s funding, prominence, and history can keep them afloat. The Beavers would most likely be able to retain a status in the West, compete in large tournaments and get bids into the NCAA tournament. However, the recruiting pool can become smaller and the schedule can become lighter than before.

    Cal Poly has been trending upwards. The Mustangs could find themselves in a similar situation as Cal Baptist. The Mustangs can pickup an invitation to another program or compete by creating their own schedule.

    The reason why the Mustangs can survive is they raise funds, the consistency within the program, stability and recent success under Jon Sioredas. Therefore, Cal Poly can find itself in a decent spot as an independent.

     Cal State Bakersfield would be on the low end of the stick. The Roadrunners could see its wrestling program dwindle as the recruiting pool falls, funds drop and the competition is scarce. Therefore, an independent route for CSUB can hurt them tremendously.

    Little Rock is questionable. The Trojans can try and sneak into the Big 12 or SoCon as an affiliate since it's rising each season. However, Little Rock’s short-term history hurts them as a strong provider for a conference. If they remained independent, it can be tough to get recruits, draw funds and competition too.


    Big Ten becomes 14 (or whatever number we’re at)

    The Big 10 is the top NCAA wrestling conference in the country. Although the Big 10 has no plans to reach out to the Beavers or Cougars, it could make the four Pac-12 teams become affiliates. 

    Although the travel will be painful and the programs stand little chance for similar success as the Pac-12, it provides short-term stability for the programs. If it happens, it will come with many hurdles and potentially starting new or resurrecting old programs.

    This idea doesn’t seem as likely as the Big Ten doesn’t currently have any affiliate members for wrestling. 

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