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Report: Two Schools Emerge As 'Top Candidates' To Join Pac-12

Athlon Sports 2/8/2023 Mitchell Forde
© Provided by Athlon Sports

The college sports landscape may not be changing as rapidly as some predicted following the shocking news last summer that USC and UCLA would leave the Pac-12 conference to join the Big Ten. But the aftershocks of that seismic shift are still being felt.

Most notably, the Pac-12 has two empty spots to fill. The league has generally been expected to add a pair of schools to replace the departing duo, but it has not moved quickly in doing so.

Tuesday, a report emerged from Brett McMurphy of Stadium about who could fill those spots. The top contenders, according to McMurphy, are San Diego State and SMU.

San Diego State has long been considered the most likely candidate to join the Pac-12. SMU is a bit more a surprise. But McMurphy tweeted that conference commissioner George Kliavkoff is slated to visit the school on Wednesday.

"Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff visiting SMU Wednesday," McMurphy tweeted. "San Diego State & SMU are top Pac-12 expansion candidates. Pac-12 needs more members & more inventory for new media rights deal, which is expected to rely heavily on digital streaming services."

SMU has spent the past decade as part of the American Athletics Conference after making the move from Conference USA. The primary appeal of adding the Mustangs would likely be due to its location, as the school would provide television sets and a recruiting foothold for the league in Dallas.

The SMU football program has never returned to its heights during the 1980s, when it contended for national championships. However, the Mustangs have been solid in recent seasons, winning at least seven games in each of the past four years.

The Pac-12 has been in the process of negotiating a new media rights deal for several months. Given the timing of Kliavkoff's visit to SMU and the language of McMurphy's tweet, it sure sounds like an announcement that two more schools are joining the league could come prior to the end of those negotiations.

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