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How a Pac-12/Big 12 Merger Might Look

This idea might be the best way for Cal to survive the conference maneuvering.

Reports are running rampant regarding what the Pac-12 or its members might or should do now. Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado officials reportedly will talk to Big 12 Conference officials this week about joining that conference. Oregon and Washington, the two most attractive Pac-12 programs, seem to be itching to leave. The Pac-12 is looking to add schools. It’s been reported that all 10 remaining Pac-12 schools have reached out to other conferences to see whether they would be accepted.

None of this looks good for Cal.

One option being reported that could save the Golden Bears is a merger of the Pac-12 and Big 12, which presumably has been considered by both conferences and could be discussed further this week along with the possible move of Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado to the Big 12.

Bill Moos, a now-retired former athletic director at Washington State, Oregon and Nebraska, told 247 Sports a Pac-12/Big 12 merger makes sense.

Third, barring a deeper dive into the pros and cons, he believes a merger of the Pac-12 and Big XII holds tremendous intrigue as long as it's not a cherry-pick approach that might leave a school like Washington State on the sidelines.

It should be noted that Fox and ESPN will ultimately determine if the conferences can merge and the how the teams in such a combined conference would be arranged.

So what would a Pac-12/Big 12 merger look like?

We offer three possible formats.

Format No. 1 -- Two eight-team divisions

This would give the Pac-12/Big 12 conference (the Western 16 Conference?) 16 teams, like the SEC and Big Ten will have eventually. 

The shortcoming is that six of the 22 members of the two conferences would be left out. Cal would be in jeopardy of being omitted, but Oregon State and Washington State are more likely to be the Pac-12 castoffs, while Central Florida, Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia might bite the dust in the Big 12. Kansas and Arizona would be kept for basketball reasons. Rivalries between Cal and Stanford and Utah and BYU would be preserved by putting them in the same division, but some rivalries, such as Kansas-Kansas State would have to be scheduled as nonconference contests.

Some of these schools might not meet the standards that the Pac-12 has espoused, but this is a new world where ideologies may have to be modified to survive.

Here’s a look at what it might look like:

West Division

Arizona

Arizona State

BYU

Cal

Oregon

Stanford

Utah

Washington

.

Midwest Division

Baylor

Cincinnati

Colorado

Houston

Kansas

Oklahoma State

TCU

Texas Tech

Each team would play its seven division opponents, two rotating opponents from the other division and three nonconference games. Division winners would face each other in the Western 16 Conference title game.

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Format Option No. 2 – Three seven-team divisions

Three six-team divisions or three eight-team divisions are also possible, but seven-team divisions seem to solve the most issues, although it would still eliminate one school (sorry Washington State)..

West Division

Arizona

Arizona State

Cal

Oregon

Oregon State

Stanford

Washington

.

Mountain Division

Baylor

BYU

Colorado

Utah

Houston

Texas Tech

TCU

.

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Midwest Division

Cincinnati

Iowa State

Kansas

Kansas State

Oklahoma State

Iowa State

UCF

Each team would play all six opponents in its division, three rotating opponents in the other divisions and three nonconference foes. The two division winners with the best record or the two teams with the best CFP ranking would meet for the conference title. A radical idea would have three division winners and a second-place team with the highest CFP ranking compete in a four-team playoff. It would require an extra game, but nearly everything could be pushed through with the NCAA’s power dwindling by the day.

The big question: Is 21 teams simply too many? All rules about conference size seem to have been tossed aside.

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Format Option No. 3 – Four six-team divisions.

This would include all 10 remaining Pac-12 members, all 12 eventual Big 12 members and two additional schools that would be invited to join – say, SMU and Memphis.

West Division

Cal

Oregon

Oregon State

Stanford

Washington

Washington State

.

Mountain Division

Arizona

Arizona State

BYU

Colorado

Texas Tech

Utah

.

Midwest Division

Baylor

Houston

Kansas

Kansas State

Iowa State

Oklahoma State

.

Mideast Division

Cincinnati

SMU

TCU

UCF

West Virginia

Memphis

Each team would play its five division opponents, four rotating opponents from the other divisions and three nonconference games. The winners of the four divisions would play semifinal games, with the winners of those games playing a championship game.

The obvious problem is that 24 teams may create a logistical nightmare for many sports, including football, and may be too many members to create any kind of conference unity. Formulating a basketball schedule may be difficult and would require playing each conference opponent just once.

It would be interesting though.

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Cover photo by Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports

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