Could Utah Be Heading To the Big XII?

Jul 4, 2022, 7:30 AM | Updated: Jul 5, 2022, 11:25 am
Big 12 Conference Championship...
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 4: The Big 12 logo is seen on a pylon before the game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Baylor Bears in the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 4, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. Baylor won 21-16.(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Still reeling after the bombshell news that USC and UCLA will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, many of the other remaining Pac-12 schools are left to figure out what they are going to do. There are rumors abound that it is only a matter of time before Oregon and Washington become Big Ten members, but what about Utah?

There has been some speculation that Fox/the Big Ten like Utah generally speaking, but are concerned about the market size they bring. It’s not a “no” and it’s not a “yes”. The prospect of Utah joining that league in the here and now is still conditional on what happens with other schools first, namely Notre Dame and that is still murky.

There have also been some rumors, though much quieter, that Utah could land with the SEC if they truly are threatened by the move FOX and the Big Ten just made, and feel like they need to move out west too. Even the remaining 10 Pac-12 members put out a statement about their intent to keep the conference intact and expand, but that is very conditional on what happens with Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten.

Big XII Still Feels Most Likely

While there are several options that could (could being the key word) come about for the Utes, right now it is still feeling most likely they are heading toward the Big XII. Jason Scheer with the Arizona 247 Sports board reported Sunday afternoon that four current remaining Pac-12 schools will be in talks with the Big XII on Tuesday, July 5th. Those schools appear to be Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. Scheer also noted this was not the first time these schools have talked with the Big XII, though this particular meeting may be the most significant.

Utah to the Big XII makes sense from a few standpoints and could be a secure move- at least immediately speaking with how in-flux conference realignment currently feels.

First, the Big XII is in a much more stable position than the Pac-12 both member-wise and money-wise. There has been talk that the Pac-12 could poach teams from the Big XII, but it just doesn’t seem likely with questions about Oregon and Washington’s loyalty to the conference along with money questions that come with whatever new TV that could be conjured up. It doesn’t seem like the Pac-12 currently has anything they could offer a current Big XII school that would move the needle so to speak to make that jump.

Second, Utah has done really well over the last 20 or so years, proving to be a steady presence in college football. The Big XII as it’s looked to replace both Texas and Oklahoma needs that kind of presence in it’s lineup along with newcomers BYU, Houston, UCF and Cincinnati. Utah could very well fit the bill in helping the Big XII continue to hit at a high level.

Third, is the revival of interesting rivalries. Obviously, the big one would be rekindling regularly the big rivalry game between Utah and BYU. Regardless of what your feelings are about the game since both schools went their separate ways (sort of) in 2011, there is no doubt there is a fire there waiting to be stoked there. Being together in the Big XII has the opportunity to bring more national attention and relevance to the game, and could be a good replacement for the Red River Rivalry that Texas and Oklahoma are taking to the SEC.

The other rivalry that could be revived is the one between Utah and TCU. This was a game that often, along with BYU, determined who was taking the crown in the Mountain West Conference. Granted, Gary Patterson is now gone, but it’s hard to believe it would take too much to get both sides fired up again about that game.

What Happens Now?

It is still anyone’s guess what ultimately happens. Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC was a surprise and USC and UCLA to the Big Ten was SHOCKING. What happens from here on out is hard to ultimately predict, even when signs may be pointing in a particular direction. College football is the wild, wild west right now and we are all just along for the ride until the ink dries- even then it may not be fully over.


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