With the Pac-12 waiting to collapse after the 2023-24 college athletics cycle, four schools are left without a future home. Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State will likely all search for a new conference to host them, barring some unpredictable Pac-12 merger. The Could the American Athletic Conference (AAC) be a destination for Washington State football and Oregon State football? AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is preparing for that possibility, according to Ross Dellenger.
SMU is currently the biggest football brand in the AAC. However, the Mustangs want to move to a Power 5 conference, primarily the Big 12. The Big 12 chose to accept other schools over SMU for now. But as fast as the college football landscape has changed in recent months, SMU could certainly move to a different conference very soon. Mike Aresco says the AAC has “contingency plans” if SMU ends up leaving the conference. The conference could even play with an odd number of teams.
The AAC is also considering expansion. Both Washington State and Oregon State have invited Aresco to visit their campuses. The two schools are clearly evaluating the AAC, just as the AAC is evaluating them. Aresco says he will “probably” end up taking a visit to those two campuses.
However, the motion expand the conference is not a sure thing yet. Aresco said there is a need for further discussion with the member schools of the AAC. While he is considering expansion options, and the member schools would probably welcome expansion, there would of course have to be a vote before any such expansion could happen.
From a football standpoint, Washington State and Oregon State would increase the competitiveness of the conference. In the long run, that's for the best. Oregon State and Washington State are also relatively larger brands than some of the smaller schools in the AAC like North Texas or Charlotte.