When I say college football landscape is nonstop changing. I mean it. On the morning of June 30th, I woke up at 9 am and USC and UCLA were still apart of the PAC-12. I take a shower and a nap and all of a sudden they’re joining the Big-10 with an official announcement supposedly coming tomorrow. What does this mean for UNM, UTEP, and NMSU? I’m glad you asked.
In the big scale of things and the hypotheticals still to come I have made up situations in my head to what I think may happen. First I believe the PAC-12 will be scavenged by the Big 12 as speculation already sits that they’ll send invites to Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona, and Utah to join the conference in 2024-25. So In this situation I believe the PAC-12 will try to poach teams from the Mountain West, more than likely the California schools. If those 4 schools mentioned above leave that would leave the PAC 12 with 6 teams being, Washington, Stanford, Cal, Washington State, Oregon State, and Oregon (Rumored Oregon and Washington have sent applications to the Big 10 as well).
In this hypothetical situation, they’d add San Diego State, San Jose State, and Fresno State. Bringing them up to 9 teams. and also leaving the Mountain West with 9 as well. I could see Utah State pitching itself due to distance from Utah. So let’s say 10 schools, bringing the Mountain West down to 8. Going a little wild and saying they add both Nevada and UNLV will bring the PAC-12 back to 12 schools. Now here’s where this situation in which the MW gets poached by the PAC-12 gets interesting.
The Mountain West is now down to 6 members: UNM, Wyoming, Colorado State (who may get grabbed instead of San Jose) Air Force, and Boise State. I don’t have Boise State getting grabbed due to geographically reasons. There have been rumors floating around about UTEP pitching itself to the Mountain West, who has made it clear it wants a foothold in Texas. I believe it’d benefit the Mountain West by adding UTEP due to the distance from the rest of the conference. It also helps their basketball team has improved drastically under Coach Golding. They also seem to be turning the corner in football finally, and who wouldn’t want the Sun Bowl as a prized stadium in the new Mountain West.
Lets say the Mountain West adds UTEP, this would then be the perfect time for NMSU to apply to join the Mountain West. The Aggies luckily have a historically high achieving basketball team which may appeal to a crumbling Mountain West, who may just take them off that alone. They can point to Coach Kills record as being able to turn teams around for the football aspect. Also being only 3 hours 13 minutes away from UNM and also being only 48 minutes away from UTEP.
Lastly how would this affect UNM? UNM would have the most to gain, but they have to put pride aside. They’ll have the option to become a key factor in the new Mountain West. Ultimately they’d have to allow NMSU into the conference. Will they put their pride aside to save the Mountain West and ultimately themselves as well? It’ll be interesting to follow for sure. But once the first domino falls more are sure to follow.