Former Pac-12 Schools Likely to Still Play in Bowls With Pac-12 Tie-Ins

Former Pac-12 Schools Likely to Still Play in Bowls With Pac-12 Tie-Ins article feature image

Chris Coduto/Getty Images. Pictured: The Arizona Wildcats by a Pac-12 logo.

The 10 schools leaving the Pac-12 likely will still play in Pac-12 affiliated bowls the next two seasons and not in bowl tie-ins with their new conferences, sources told Action Network.

The former Pac-12 schools are not expected to play in bowls with their new conferences for multiple reasons, conference and bowl sources told Action Network.

The contracts between the conferences and the bowls don’t end until after the 2025 season. With only Oregon State and Washington State remaining in the Pac-12 in 2024, the six bowls with Pac-12 ties could not be filled without drawing from other conferences.

Because of the mass exodus of Pac-12 schools, all the stakeholders involved are seeking a temporary solution until the new bowl contracts begin in 2026, sources said.

“Out of a series of not-great options, the most workable — short of blowing up the bowl system and the (35 non-playoff) bowl contracts — is to have the former Pac-12 schools sent to Pac-12 bowls for two more years,” a source said.

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That means after the 12-team College Football Playoff field is selected, the former Pac-12 bowl-eligible teams would be considered part of the Pac-12’s bowl pool. This could keep Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington (Big Ten), Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah (Big 12), and Cal and Stanford (ACC) from participating in their new conference bowl games until 2026.

The six Pac-12 bowl tie-ins in 2024 and 2025 are the Alamo, Holiday, Las Vegas, Sun, Los Angeles, Independence (in 2024)/ESPN event bowl (in 2025). The Rose Bowl, now part of the College Football Playoff rotation, is no longer tied to the Pac-12.

While having the former Pac-12 schools play in a Pac-12 bowl is the simplest and most logical solution, there — of course — are some stakeholders pushing back for various reasons, sources said.

How the Pac-12 bowls would be filled remains unknown. Because the teams would be chosen from different conferences, the selection order likely wouldn’t be based on conference records.

One possibility would be allowing the bowls to pick a bowl-eligible team based on the bowl’s selection order without regard to the win-loss records, sources said. That could allow a Pac-12 bowl to select a 7-5 current or former Pac-12 team over a 10-2 team. Current bowl contracts with conferences don’t allow bowls to skip over teams in the selection process with at least two fewer wins.

Also, because of the Pac-12’s unique situation, the Alamo Bowl — which features a Pac-12 vs. Big 12 matchup — wants to be able to select former Big 12 programs Oklahoma and Texas as its Big 12 representative for the next two seasons, sources said. The Big 12 and SEC unsurprisingly oppose this, a source said.

If an agreement is reached regarding the former Pac-12 teams being paired with the Pac-12 bowls, it could cause some challenges to avoid pairing teams against each other from the same conference.

The Alamo Bowl likely would rather not have new Big 12 members Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah being selected as its “Pac-12” rep to face a Big 12 team.

The Holiday and Sun Bowls would be in a similar situation with their Pac-12 vs. ACC tie-ins. Both bowls likely would rather not have new ACC members Cal or Stanford as its “Pac-12” rep to play an ACC team.

In 2025, the Las Vegas Bowl matchup (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten) would probably not want new Big Ten members Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington as its “Pac-12” rep to play a Big Ten team. The 2024 Las Vegas Bowl, which features the Pac-12 vs. the SEC, would not be impacted.

The remaining Pac-12 bowls — Los Angeles and Independence — would not have any potential conflicts regarding selecting former Pac-12 schools because they feature conferences that did not add Pac-12 schools.

Bowl officials initially hoped to have this resolved back in December, a source said. Now, it’s unknown when it will be settled.

“There has to be some realignment of the bowls (in 2024 and 2025); something has to happen,” a source said. “At some level, there has to be some degree of cooperation by the displaced bowls and the Pac-12. A shared agreement has to happen.”

But when?

This season marks the debut of the 12-team College Football Playoff. While not official yet, the five highest-ranked conference champions will receive automatic bids to the playoff. The top four highest-ranked conference champions — regardless of where the selection committee ranks them — will be the top four seeds and receive a bye into the quarterfinal round.

After the five highest-ranked conference champions are determined, the seven remaining highest-ranked teams, according to the selection committee, will fill out the rest of the 12-team field.

The first-round games will be played on campus sites on Dec. 20-21: No. 12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8.

Those winners will play the top four seeds at bowl sites — Fiesta, Peach, Rose and Sugar — in the quarterfinals on Dec. 31-Jan. 1, followed by the semifinals at the Cotton and Orange Bowls on Jan. 9-10.

The national title game will take place Jan. 20 in Atlanta.

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