The Pac-12 has been devastated by college football realignment, with 10 teams leaving the conference in 2024. However, fresh reports have emerged that would still tie those teams to the conference for a little longer.
The departed schools are now likely to compete in their postseason contests in Pac-12-affiliated bowl games, complicating the selections until the conference/bowl game contracts are renegotiated in 2026.
Why Do Departing Pac-12 Teams Have To Play in Pac-12-Affiliated Bowl Games?
The Oregon Ducks, UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans, and Washington Huskies from the Big Ten, Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, Colorado Buffaloes, and Utah Utes from the Big 12, and Cal Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal from the ACC are likely to have to play their bowl games Pac-12 affiliate games, if they qualify, new reports claim.
Brett McMurphy from Action Network reported on February 13 that “the 10 schools leaving Pac-12 likely will still play in Pac-12 affiliated bowls next two years & not in bowls tied to their new leagues.”
That means that teams who have departed the Pac-12 for a new conference will have to play in bowl games associated with their previous conference if they don’t reach the revamped 12-team college football playoffs.
With contracts between bowl games and the conference set to expire after the 2025 season, the Pac-12 wouldn’t be able to fill their allocation with only Oregon State and Washington State remaining in the now Pac-2 conference.
However, there are also reports that “some stakeholders [are] pushing back for various reasons.”
Sources told Action Network that “out of a series of not-great options, the most workable — short of blowing up the bowl system and the (35 non-playoff) bowl contracts — is to have the former Pac-12 schools sent to Pac-12 bowls for two more years.”
In 2024, the bowl games lined to the Pac-12 are the Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Sun Bowl, Los Angeles Bowl, and Independence Bowl.
The Rose Bowl was previously a Pac-12-affiliated bowl game, but it is now included in the college football playoff schedule.
While this solution does solve the immediate issues for the affiliated bowl games, there will be some matchups that will need managing.
For example, the Alamo Bowl plays a Pac-12 team against a Big 12 team, and with former Pac-12 teams in the Big 12, organizers will want to make sure that the bowl game isn’t played between conference rivals.
While talks are ongoing, “how the Pac-12 bowls would be filled remains unknown,” Action Network reports. However, given the situation’s complexities, it is unlikely that the selection based on conference records will be so linear.
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