After reports of Big 12 meeting, Utah comes out on defensive
Reports both over the weekend and on Tuesday morning suggested that Utah was engaged in talks with the Big 12 over a possible jump to that league alongside Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado.
The Utes, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Josh Newman, have now called those reports “blatantly false” and reiterated that Utah leadership remained in alignment with Pac-12 leadership.
High-level Utah source tells @sltrib that a report over the weekend of Utah, CU, UA, ASU meeting w/Big 12 today is "blatantly false"
Furthermore, Utah remains in strong alignment with Pac-12 leadership, league insitutions.
"Tethered together" used to describe the suitauton
— Josh Newman (@Joshua_Newman) July 5, 2022
A report from CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd on Tuesday suggested the Big 12 was targeting the ‘four corners’ in the Pac-12—the Arizona schools, Utah, and Colorado—as well as Oregon and Washington in a bid to push that league to 18 members.
Dodd also reported that a merger between the Pac-12 and the Big 12 remained a possibility.
It’s worth pointing out here that another high-ranking official from one of the Arizona/Utah/Colorado bunch—though it’s not immediately clear which—told Pac-12 insider John Canzano that no such meeting with the Big 12 was on the books.
Since news broke last week that USC and UCLA were leaving the league to join the Big Ten in 2024, conference realignment chaos has picked up in a major way and a number of Pac-12 teams have been linked to other conferences.
In an attempt to tamp down the angst, the Pac-12 has released a pair of statements saying the league’s Board of Directors has both authorized commissioner George Kliavkoff to explore all expansion opportunities and immediately move into the formal negotiating phase for the league’s next media rights deal.
There are a number of paths this could take—a merger of some sort with the Big 12 or even the ACC, a splintering of the conference with schools like Oregon and Washington heading to the Big Ten or SEC and the likes of Oregon State and Washington State being left to the Mountain West, or even an aggressive expansion that could see the Pac-12 poach Big 12 members rather than the other way around to pair with MWC schools like Fresno State and San Diego State. We discussed those possibilities here.