The Pac-12 may be gone, but it won’t be forgotten during bowl season. According Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, the 10 schools that left the Pac-12 this season will still play in Pac-12-affiliated bowl games rather than their new conference’s bowl games.
Interconference and bowl contracts do not end until the 2025 season. With Oregon State and Washington State the only two remaining Pac-12 schools in 2024, the Pac-12’s six bowl affiliations cannot be met without the participation of old schools.
2023 saw the almost complete dismantling of the Pac-12 due to conference realignment. USC and UCLA negotiated a deal to leave for the Big Ten, followed shortly after by Oregon and Washington. Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado went to the Big 12, while Stanford and Cal went to the ACC.
Currently, the simplest solution would be for the 10 breakaway schools to fill the remaining positions.
“Of a number of not-so-good options, the most viable, short of blowing up the bowl system and bowl contracts (35 non-playoff ones), is to send former Pac-12 schools to Pac-12 bowls. for two more years,” an anonymous source told Action Network.
Some interested parties, however, are not so enthusiastic about the idea. The inclusion of multiple conferences likely means that bowl selection for these could not be determined by conference registration as it normally would. An alternative solution could be to allow bowls to hand-pick their participating Pac-12 team, allowing a bowl to pick a 7-5 team instead of a 10-2 team. Current bowl contracts with conferences prohibit teams from skipping teams with at least two fewer wins.
The Pac-12’s remaining current affiliations are Alamo, Holiday, Las Vegas, Sun and Los Angeles for the next two years, with the addition of the Independence Bowl in 2024 and an ESPN-affiliated bowl in 2025.
Most of these bowls feature Power Five conferences that just faced former Pac-12 teams, throwing another wrinkle into bowl planning. The Holiday and Sun Bowls feature ACC teams opposite the Pac-12, meaning their planners probably wouldn’t want to have Cal or Stanford as Pac-12 representatives. The 2025 Las Vegas Bowl is against the Big Ten, which likely wouldn’t include USC, UCLA, Oregon or Washington in the Pac-12 seed.
The Alamo Bowl, a matchup between the Pac-12 and Big 12, is especially unique from a matchup perspective. According to Action Network, the uncertainty surrounding Pac-12 bowl status has led Alamo Bowl officials to want to peg Oklahoma and Texas as the Big 12 representatives for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The only problem is that both teams just left the Big 12 to go to the SEC. Both the SEC and the Big 12 currently oppose this proposal, but there is a small chance we will have expats in conferences on both sides of the bowl. Unfortunately, fans will be deprived of the opportunity to watch a Big Ten Rose Bowl because the game is now part of the College Football Playoff.