Where Will Washington State End Up?

Photo from Washington State Athletic’s Football Homepage

The Restructuring of the Pac-12 Conference

Washington State, in the wake of recent developments, is now facing a trilemma in regard to its conference alignment. Insider Brett McMurphy points to three potential directions: stick with the remaining members of the Pac-12 in an attempt at rebuilding or migrate to another conference such as the AAC or Mountain West.

Challenges of Pac-12 Rebuilding

With the present scenario, the Pac-12 as it was known stands on shaky grounds. With only Oregon St, Washington St, Cal, and Stanford left to hold the fort, resurrection to past glory appears daunting. The addition of Mountain West schools further complicates the picture, potentially lowering the standing of the original four. It is uncertain at this point if any schools would even entertain joining a new-to-form Pac-12.

The Mountain West Option

While geographically sensible, Washington State’s inclusion to the Mountain West presents both opportunities and hazards. On the plus side, the Cougars could potentially boost the reputation of the conference, significantly aiding the forthcoming TV rights negotiations. The down side, however, is the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming TV deal which is due to expire in three years. This makes the decision to join Mountain West somewhat of a risk.

The Case for AAC

Aligning with the AAC, while geographically more scattered, presents a robust business argument for Washington State. The blow to the Pac-12 may have already tipped the scales in AAC’s favor. The AAC’s TV deal promises a consistent revenue stream for the Cougars, a lure impossible to ignore in these uncertain times. Additional perks include the absence of a grant of rights clause, and the potential for Washington State to find its way back into a Power Conference if it spends consistent time as one of the premier programs in the AAC.

Having weighed the merits and disadvantages of each option, it’s safe to say the path forward for Washington St is still shrouded in ambiguity. But regardless of the decision, it will undoubtedly impact not just the school but the larger landscape of college sports.

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