If you missed it last week/over the weekend, the presumable final nail was put in the Pac-12 coffin when Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah were admitted to the Big 12, joining fellow defector Colorado.

It brings the Big 12 to 16 schools, beginning in 2024, in a conference that will look like this following the departure of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arizona State
  3. Baylor
  4. BYU
  5. Colorado
  6. UCF
  7. Cincy
  8. Houston
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas
  11. Kansas State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. TCU
  14. Texas Tech
  15. Utah
  16. West Virginia

That’s a pretty good conference. Losing Oklahoma and Texas hurts, but you look at that list and see football parity, which is much better than OU trampling the competition with regularity. And in basketball, you bolster an already fantastic conference with Zona, Houston, and the other new schools coming in. Should be enjoyable over the next few years.

So what then with the Pac-12? It’s now the Pac-4, with Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford, and Cal remaining. USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington are departing for the Big 10, which will have 18 teams and feature lovely in-conference games with schools that are on opposite coasts and separated by 3,000 miles. Can’t wait for that crucial Big 10 tilt between Rutgers and UCLA. A classic geographic rivalry right there!

But on a more serious note, the solution is right in front of our faces. The remaining Pac-12 schools should simply join up with the Mountain West, or vice versa. Whatever has to be done procedurally. Let’s git r done because a merger of the two would create a 16-team conference of:

  1. Air Force
  2. Boise State
  3. Cal
  4. Fresno State
  5. Colorado State
  6. Hawai’i
  7. Nevada
  8. UNLV
  9. New Mexico
  10. Oregon State
  11. San Diego State
  12. San Jose State
  13. Stanford
  14. Utah State
  15. Washington State
  16. Wyoming

That’s not a horrible football conference. Oregon State is turning a corner. Stanford is usually good. Fresno, SDSU, and Boise are legit. Utah State, Wyoming, and Air Force have respectable programs.

There isn’t much of an option, is there? You’ve got New Mexico State out there as a football independent. Maybe you can look to Conference USA for UTEP or one of the other Texas schools, but that seems geographically funky and less interesting than a merger. The only other way for the four Pac-12 holdovers to go is the indy route, along with the likes of Notre Dame, Army, UConn, and UMass.

Unless this happens, as noted by Jon Gold at our sister site Saturday Out West:

Cal and Stanford have to hope that their academic reputations — and, in Stanford’s case, at least semi-recent success on the football field — make them attractive expansion candidates once the Big 3 (sorry ACC, there is no longer a Power 5, and that includes you) decides to go to 20 or 24 teams.

The Bay Area media market is sizeable, even if turnout for home games is not, and that makes those schools more attractive than the Cougars and Beavers, who boast better fan bases.

With ESPN currently having little presence on the West Coast, maybe Wazzu and OSU are thrown a bone by the Big 12 at lesser shares.

Are we destined for a 20 team conference? Forget the 16-team super-conference. There may be more to this in the coming years, and that’s the problem. College football and basketball realignment never stops.