Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke made an appearance on the Sirius XM Pac-12 radio show Wednesday wherein he told hosts Ryan Leaf and Guy Haberman he thinks the Pac-12 still has quite a bit to offer even without USC and UCLA.

The impending departures of the two Los Angeles schools in 2024 has thrust the Pac-12 out onto a frozen lake where the ice is quickly thawing under its feet. Does the league fall apart and the 10 remaining schools have to find new homes amid the wreckage? Does it partner with another league? A Big 12 partnership was discussed but those discussions ended this week with the Big 12 saying “thanks but no thanks.” An ACC partnership is another option that has been speculated about, but there are a number of roadblocks that make it seem unlikely. Does the rest of the Pac-12 hold together and add a few new members to rebuild the league?

The future is murky. Heeke thinks the Pac-12 still has plenty to offer, though.

“We’ve got two more years, it appears, where the other institutions will be part of it. We’ll still compete. We’ll still do the things we’ve traditionally become accustomed to,” he said. “I’m sure all of us have a little bit of a competitive flare—we wouldn’t be in it if we didn’t—to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward in the last moments of the league as it’s comprised right now to try to, again, show the competitiveness from top to bottom.

“This isn’t a conference built on two. And in recent past here, those aren’t institutions that have dominated this league either in sports across the board. They certainly have had their challenges in some of our flagship sports, too. Again, it’s a super-competitive league. And that’s not discrediting them, (but) I think it does show how powerful and how strong this league is. This is one of the best leagues out there. Are we looking to do different things? Absolutely. We’ve talked about considering expansion. We just don’t put a ‘for sale’ sign out, we just don’t start running around doing crazy things.”

Interpret Heeke’s comments however you see fit. Arizona is a rumored target of the Big 12. Have conversations gone on between the two? We’ll see.

His point about recent success is interesting. On the football field, USC has one conference title since 2009. UCLA hasn’t won the Pac-12 since the turn of the century. On the basketball court, USC has one regular-season conference title in the last 50 years. UCLA won three straight regular-season crowns from 2005-08 but has claimed only one since.

The athletic prowess of both programs is undeniable—USC is a football blue blood, UCLA a basketball blue blood—and the Pac-12 is absolutely hurt by losing them.

But Heeke is smart to focus on the fact the Pac-12 still has valuable programs in Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The regular-season basketball crown has gone to one of those teams in 12 of the last 14 seasons. The football title has gone to one of them in six of the last eight seasons. That serves as an “everything is fine” kind of message from the Pac-12’s point of view while also sneakily being a pretty good sales pitch to other leagues who might have interest in the individual schools.

“We’ve got a good brand, we’re going to do things the right way as a group, and I think we can bring value,” Heeke said. “Competitively, people will see that. I think it’s going to be a good year in football for us as well.”