Oregon would be better served long-term in a conference that wasn’t the Pac-12, 247Sports national analyst Brandon Marcello said during a recent appearance on the Autzen Audibles podcast.

Whether that league was the Big Ten, the SEC, or even the Big 12, Marcello said the Ducks’ brand has outgrown the Pac-12 and though the money might be competitive on the Pac-12’s next immediate media rights deal, things could look much different in 10 years.

“If there was an opportunity for Oregon to join the Big Ten or to join the SEC, they should jump at it immediately,” Marcello said. “Don’t sit there and think, ‘We want to stay in the Pac-12 and be dominant potentially year-to-year in football,’ because in the future, being dominant in the Pac-12, maybe that gets you into the Playoff but does so as a lower seed — whether you’re the champion or not.”

The College Football Playoff is expanding to 12 teams beginning with the 2024 Playoff. It’ll feature guaranteed access for the six highest-ranked conference champions, and then six at-large bids.

Around the same time the CFP expands, USC and UCLA will be playing in the Big Ten while Texas and Oklahoma will be playing in the SEC. There’s a chance both leagues continue to gobble up premier programs in pursuit of bloated TV agreements. Oregon and Washington have already had preliminary discussions with the Big Ten.

Though conference expansion in the Big Ten may have cooled, the Big 12 spent most of last summer — as Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff put it — lobbing grenades at the Pac-12. That league wants to poach Pac-12 schools.

If the conference continues to be picked off, Marcello points out there’s little to stop the Playoff leadership from changing its criteria.

“Who is to say that the playoff committee doesn’t change their criteria? We talk about getting the six highest conference champions now, maybe at some point the AAC and the Pac-12 are so much weaker than we thought, that they might change it to the four highest or the five highest,” Marcello said. “They will change criteria as they see how this new system goes along, and also what college football looks like conference to conference.”

Given the investment in and resources available to the Oregon football program, no one wants to be left on the outside looking in.