Sampath: With the Pac-12 in free-fall, how will convention realignment work for Stanford?

When Stanford gained the Rose Bowl, it turned a dream faculty for 12-year-old me. What distinguished it from the Ivy League and different colleges, for me, was its willingness to pursue each tutorial and athletic excellence. Now, as a Stanford fan and scholar, I wish to see this faculty proceed to compete on the highest athletic degree doable. Protecting one in every of this nation’s most profitable athletic departments has been one of many highlights of my time right here, however latest Pac-12 crises are making me notice that I cannot take with no consideration the power to see your alma mater play on an vital stage. 

Final Friday, 5 packages determined to go away the Pac-12 for conferences with extra profitable futures. After we heard the horrible news of Oregon’s and Washington’s departures, reports that Utah, Arizona and Arizona State would observe escalated a putrid scenario to a firestorm. Now the one groups left are Stanford, Cal, Washington State and Oregon State. The latter two, overshadowed by bigger packages inside their states, are unanimously agreed to be the odd males out in relation to energy convention enlargement — leaving the ball in Stanford’s and Cal’s court docket. 

The power that aggressive collegiate athletics deliver to a campus is unparalleled. The solar appears to shine brighter, lessons really feel much less of a slog and folks typically appear extra upbeat. 

There are actually solely two convention choices that may evoke this degree of aggressive spirit: the Large Ten (B1G) and Large 12. There haven’t been many reviews about Large 12 negotiations with Stanford, however latest reviews advised the Cardinal might be a main candidate to maneuver to the B1G. This, together with Cal becoming a member of the B1G, might preserve alive a few of the West Coast rivalries that we all know and love. The Cardinal might proceed their rivalries with Cal, Oregon, UCLA and USC, whereas additionally rotating matchups with different B1G foes to spice issues up. 

That might be the optimum situation. However what concerning the situation the place the Large Ten Convention fails to select Stanford up? With the information of Utah, Arizona and Arizona State transferring to the Large 12, this will make it simpler for Stanford to hitch, since there might be a “Western pod” that decreases journey instances for athletes. Add in Cal and that wouldn’t be a horrible plan. 

Some reviews floated the potential for the remaining Pac-12 colleges becoming a member of the ACC. However how lengthy will or not it’s till high groups like Clemson, Florida State and others determine to take off for greener pastures? Plus, the journey instances could be much more of a nightmare than the opposite energy conferences. 

Whereas the facility convention eventualities above are the very best potentialities for the Cardinal, there’s a very actual probability that Stanford might want to accept a second-tier convention. This might comprise these at present within the Mountain West like San Jose State, San Diego State, Boise State and others. Whereas I’d be deeply dissatisfied if this had been the end result, it might be the truth we’ve got to accept. With income sports activities performing poorly the previous few years, I’m not positive how enticing Stanford is in comparison with a decade in the past. And with the relative reluctance to dive head-first into NIL like different big-name packages, some athletic administrators and commissioners might not consider Stanford as a worthwhile program long-term.

Don’t get me unsuitable: I feel these presumptions are incorrect. Simply have a look at the 2024 soccer recruiting class and the basketball recruiting lessons of the previous few years. Stanford can positively appeal to a ton of proficient scholar-athletes. However the exterior narratives might not work to our benefit as a lot as we’d hope.

I feel I’m scripting this all to say that within the midst of this uncertainty inside faculty athletics, Stanford actually stands out as a program teetering on the sting of enjoying with the massive boys or being overlooked. However as a fan and scholar, I do know that Stanford boasts a few of the most spectacular student-athletes within the nation and I really feel anyone could be fortunate to have them in a convention.