In mid-June,’s Adam Thompson posted odds on the likeliest Pac-12 expansion candidates, both to replace the already leaving UCLA and USC and to potentially fill the shoes of the would-be departing corner schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — some of whom are reportedly flirting with the Big-12.

But how do Thompson’s eight candidates stack up? Each has one a unique pitch, with some more compelling than others.

There are some important things to consider here, particularly market size, academics including research tiers and Association of American Universities status and, of course, on-field play.

Here’s a look at Thompson’s eight potential new Pac-12 programs, including their odds to join the conference…

San Diego State, +200

As far as pitches go, the Aztecs are firing a 102-mile per hour fastball.

San Diego State is climbing quickly in just about every category, and with the school essentially telling the Mountain West that it was ready to bounce, odds are even greater now that SDSU will become Southern California’s Pac-12 representative. No, San Diego is not Los Angeles in terms of eyeballs or media, but it’s not a bad consolation prize, especially when you consider the success the school has had athletically.

Coming off an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish that has alumni fired up and applications through the roof, the men’s basketball program ranks among the best in the country. The football team, once a complete embarrassment, now regularly finishes with double-digit wins and debuted a gorgeous new Mission Valley stadium last year. SDSU has a relatively competitive athletic department across the board, along with improved facilities. It is the school’s growing commitment to research — including vaunted R1 status by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education — that might be most attractive to Pac-12 schools, as each other school is on the list.

SMU, +400

The Mustangs have an even stronger academic profile and offer what would be the league’s largest market in Dallas-Fort Worth, along with a football program that is just bursting at the seams to be nationally relevant. SMU has made it to 9 bowl games since 2009 following a funk that lasted more than 2 decades after the program received the so-called “Death Penalty” in 1987. In 2019 under Sonny Dykes — who would go on to leave SMU for TCU, leading the Horned Frogs to a title-game appearance in 2022 — the Mustangs won 10 games for the 1st time in 35 years.

While the men’s basketball program is not particularly marquee, the Mustangs have had regular success in other high-profile sports, including men’s soccer. It is SMU’s No. 72 overall ranking in U.S. News and World Report college rankings that is most alluring. No, scratch that: It’s access to big pocketbooks and bigger eyeballs of DFW and its nearly 3 million residents.

UNLV, +700

The Sin City school does not boast prime-time athletics, with a football team that has just one bowl appearance this millennium and a men’s basketball program far from its Running Rebels heyday. UNLV also does not have academics that rival some of the Pac-12’s best — or even some of its worst.

So what does it offer? Proximity. The league has unofficially made Las Vegas its second home, and sometime soon, maybe its primary home. The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament has long been held in Vegas, and now the football title game is in the desert, as well. Even Pac-12 football media day has shifted to Sin City. That says something.

Colorado State, +750

This one particularly makes sense if Colorado absconds back to the Big-12. The Pac-12 would surely like to stay in the Denver media market, and CSU is also an R1 research institution, which lends to its credibility.

You can overlook the uninspiring play in the revenue sports. The Rams have had some nice stretches on the football field, and sure, they have not made a bowl game since 2017, and, yeah, the men’s basketball team regressed in a big way this year after winning 25 games in 2021-22. But Fort Collins is beautiful in the winter.

Tulane, +800

Now it starts to get interesting. Tulane is ranked No. 44 by USNWR and is both an RI institution and a member of the AAU. Plus, coming off a top-10 finish on the football and the status as the Group of Five’s top team, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. The Green Wave have not made a big splash on the national scene in other sports, but getting a foothold in SEC country is kind of cool.

If the Pac-12 decides to go big — and it should — it could extend an offer to Tulane along with SMU as a natural travel partner.

Hawaii, +950

Look, you can either go far east or you can go far west. Hawaii has solid academics and impressive status as an R1 research institution. Now, the athletic profile is not particularly strong, but can you beat the pina coladas?

Boise State, +1400

Here’s where it starts getting a little hairy. As much as we all love the blue turf — and we do all love the blue turf — it’s a bit silly to compare Boise State with the rest of the conference academically. That’s the blue elephant in the room here, with a 331-440 ranking by USNWR and no R1 or AAU standings.

But then again, don’t ignore that field and #Pac12AfterDark. That could be electric.

Fresno State, +1400

OK, so hear me out. San Diego State indeed leaves the Mountain West, but instead of zigging to the Pac-12, it somehow zags to the Big-12. The league would still want another California representative, and while Fresno State isn’t exactly the hotbed of Los Angeles, there are eyeballs and a decent fan base.