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Opinion: Realistic (and not) realignment possibilities for CSU after USC, UCLA shakeup

·5 min read
The Pac-12 is in flux after USC and UCLA bolted for the Big Ten.
The Pac-12 is in flux after USC and UCLA bolted for the Big Ten.

Colorado State to the Pac-12?

That, of course, is the first thing Rams fans thought Thursday when the shocking news of USC and UCLA bolting the Pac-12 for the Big Ten hit.

It's almost surely the first set of moves as another massive shift happens in college sports, just a year after the huge Texas-Oklahoma-to-the SEC move.

So how about CSU? The Rams were a complete nonfactor when the Big 12 looked to expand last year. The AAC was interested in CSU after losing some of its top members.

While the Jay Norvell hire has the football needle moving in the right direction, it's still been half a decade (or more, really) of mediocre to flat-out poor football. The Rams have been bad at football at the worst possible time. Just like the last round, you have to search very hard to find a mention of CSU as a potential addition to a big league right now.

Also, don't forget that CSU doesn't have leadership right now. Joyce McConnell was paid to go away and there's an interim president in place. It's a safe bet that Tony Frank, who made a hard sell to the Big 12 years ago, is back working behind the scenes on realignment.

Here's a look at some scenarios that could be in play. These range from fairly plausible to not so much, but hey, who even knows what is and isn't realistic these days?

Scenario 1: Pac-12 poaches Mountain West

The league is on life support after its two anchors (and biggest media market), USC and UCLA, bolted for the Big Ten.

A year ago everyone thought the Big 12 was dead when Oklahoma and Texas left for the SEC, but that league scrambled together expansion out of the AAC (plus BYU). Could the Pac-12 do the same? The league released a statement Friday saying it would "explore all expansion options."

The Mountain West is the logical (and probably only) place to go outside of trying to raid the Big 12. San Diego State is a basketball power with a new football stadium and would help regain some Southern California stability.

UNLV doesn't have the sporting success but hey, it's Vegas. Boise State, of course, always shoots its hand up for attention. And how about CSU? Is there value in pairing CSU and CU together? CSU should be making a hard sales pitch right now

Plausibility: Not unrealistic. Not sure the Mountain West schools move the needle much, but weird things happen in desperation. Unfortunately for CSU, the Rams wouldn't be first on the call list for the Pac-12.

FOOTBALL NEWS: ABC will televise Colorado State's 2022 football opener at Michigan

Scenario 2: While Pac-12 implodes, others gather leftovers

Jaws were still on the floor Thursday with the shocking news of the USC and UCLA departures when rumblings started that the Big 12 might move to grab some of the Pac-12 to A) boost the Big 12 and B) land the KO on the Pac-12.

Could Colorado go back and bring Utah along? Maybe the Arizona schools would be in play? Surely someone is interested in the prestige of Stanford. It's also being reported that Oregon and Washington are trying to get out.

The Pac-12 could die. That could leave some leftovers for someone to grab (think: Oregon State and Washington State types). That someone could be the Mountain West.

Plausibility: Again, not unrealistic. Oregon and Washington are the kingpins of the Pac-12 now. If they find an exit, it's curtains.

Scenario 3: CSU to Big 12, again?

Could the "CSU to the Big 12" talk start a third time? It seems we're headed for megaconferences with the Big Ten and SEC possibly (probably?) adding more.

Could the Big 12 decide it needs even more? If so, would the Rams be back in the mix?

Plausibility: Unlikely. If the Big 12 moves again, there's little reason to think CSU will be firmly in the mix after being ignored a year ago.

More: CSU football recruiting rankings: Where do the Rams stack up in the Mountain West?

Scenario 4: Does Gonzaga play a role?

Now we're venturing into abstract theory. Bear with me on this one. Let's say the Mountain West can keep its current group together. Could the league make a play to add Gonzaga and Saint Mary's?

Of course, they're nonfootball members. But with the Pac-12 as is, the Mountain West is probably close to on par as a football league and adding those teams would make it dwarf the Pac-12 as a basketball league. The MW could be the premier "western" conference. It's possible the Pac-12 could be thinking the same and go for a Gonzaga swoop.

Plausibility: Doesn't feel very likely. But hey, we can dream about a basketball league with CSU, San Diego State, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, New Mexico and UNLV.

Scenario 5: CU to the Mountain West?

This one's mostly for fun. Let's say the Pac-12 does implode and the Big 12 says, "nah, we're good," to Colorado. Well, not many other options for those Buffs unless the Big Ten for some reason wants them. They would have to go to the little Mountain West and be forced to play CSU every year.

Wouldn't that be fun?

Plausibility: Unlikely but very amusing.

More: CSU football recruiting tracker: George Washington receiver Silas Evans picks Rams over Colorado

Follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle. Coloradoan sports can also be followed on Twitter. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Could Pac 12 look to Colorado State, Mountain West after Big Ten raid?