As the dust continues to settle on talks of a Big 12 expansion, it is likely that the league will stand pat and the University of Texas will get its way.
If the Big 12 decides to remain a conference of 10, other leagues can swoop in and claim rising group-of-five schools, like the University of Houston.
Although unlikely, a Pac-12 expansion could be mutually beneficial to the conference and the candidate from Texas.
Before the Power Five conferences finished realignment in 2012, the Pac-12 was ready to switch to a 14-team format. Plans, however, fell through when several schools chose not to make the move.
Currently, the Pac-12 does not have the zest to lure schools from the Big Ten or the South Eastern Conference. Big 12 schools are also locked into the conference due to a grant of rights, so a realistic expansion leaves the group of five.
A Pac-12 expansion to Houston would benefit the league as it would further open recruiting doors to a talent-rich state like Texas.
There were 20 players from the Houston area among the top-50 recruits in Texas this year, and none were recruited by a Pac-12 school. Only four players in the top 50 in the entire state were recruited by the Pac-12.
On the flip side, an eastward Pac-12 move would assist the Cougars out west. UH only has three players on the roster that are from the Pac-12 region and a merger would add a new pipeline for talent, especially in a state like California.
The move will also make the Pac-12 an even more competitive conference. The change wouldn’t put the Pac-12 on par with the SEC in terms of football, but an argument could be made that the conference would surpass the Big 12 and Big Ten.
Last season, the Pac-12 tied with the Big Ten, sending 10 schools to bowl games, despite the fact that the Big Ten has 14 schools. The Pac-12 also had one more win than the Big Ten although they were 1-2 in head-to-head games against the Big Ten.
In the Big 12, only seven schools qualified for a bowl game and they finished 3-4.
Recent events put the University of Baylor’s program in a flux and are probably headed for a down year. UT, meanwhile, is still looking to return to the national scene, which means there is a chance that only six teams or fewer will be eligible for a post-season game.
Adding UH and a similar school could send more Pac-12 teams to bowl games, which would result in more money. It all comes down to money in the NCAA.
Having UH in the Pac-12 would also bring the conference’s network to a top-ten television market in Houston, giving them an incentive to subscribe to the network and make future TV deals more lucrative.
The Big 12 will likely have an answer to expansion before the University of Oklahoma and UH meet at NRG Stadium on Sept. 2. If they choose to reject the idea, a UH win should pique the interest of the conference on the Pacific Coast and benefit both sides.