The Pac-12 originally chose to be patient with expansion. It figured it could wait and find the perfect fit or hold steady. In the wake of USC and UCLA’s departure to the Big Ten, the conference has lost that luxury.

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met Friday morning and authorized the conference to explore expansion. The future of the conference is at stake. Said a former conference administrator to The Athletic, “I don’t know if they recover from this.”

The obvious hurdle: The Pac-12’s expansion options are not great. Despite its lack of football success and substandard media payouts, the conference always has offered some level of stability. That is no longer the case. USC and UCLA’s exits have cracked the foundation.

Commissioner George Kliavkoff’s first task is to keep Washington and Oregon in place. Without the Trojans and Bruins, the Pacific Northwest schools are holding the conference together. This won’t be easy. The second is to find the right schools that not only fit the Pac-12’s profile but also help the conference in its upcoming media rights negotiations. Let’s take a look.


The first calls

San Diego State: The Athletic asked a couple of industry sources about Pac-12 expansion candidates, and each one started here. The Pac-12 has never seemed to take San Diego State seriously, mostly because it operates in the California State University system, but it’s time to give the Mountain West school a strong look. San Diego has the 28th largest television market, which is not ideal, but adding the Aztecs would give the Pac-12 a presence in some part of Southern California