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BREAKING: Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah to Join the Big 12 Conference in 2024

After a flurry of realignment activity on Friday, it’s been announced that the University of Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, and Utah Utes will join the Big 12 starting in 2024.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After a flurry of activity on Thursday night and Friday morning, it’s been announced that the Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, and Utah Utes have all applied and been accepted to join the Big 12 Conference beginning in 2024, per a ton of different sources, including Jason Scheer and Brett McMurphy.

The news comes on the heels of a whirlwind day of realignment rumors and speculation. On Thursday evening, the Arizona Board of Regents met to discuss the possibility of realignment for both Arizona and Arizona State (they share a board). It appeared that Arizona was well on its way to joining the Big 12, with the Sun Devils lagging somewhat behind, but still interested. The board for the Washington Huskies also met to discuss realignment last Thursday night/early Friday morning (depending on your time zone). Everything appeared to be falling into place for Arizona to head to the Big 12, and Washington and the Oregon Ducks to head to the Big 10.

Then the sun dawned on Friday morning and the news broke that the Pac-12 school presidents were meeting with conference leadership regarding the proposed deal with AppleTV for the conference’s broadcast rights. The news threw Realignment Twitter into a tailspin as multiple outlets reported optimism that the Pac-12 would sign a Grant of Rights and remain with the conference. It appeared that reports of the Pac-12’s demise might have been greatly exaggerated.

Alas, it was all smoke and mirrors.

Shortly after the conclusion of the meeting, those same outlets backtracked on their original reports. It turned out that the reports of reports that the Pac-12’s demise might have been greatly exaggerated turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Oregon and Washington once again appeared destined for the Big 10, and Arizona back to the Big 12.

Then, confirmed. Oregon and Washington are headed to the Big 10.

Despite all of the rumors and speculation focusing on Arizona and the Big 12, Oregon and Washington went ahead and made their move first. The Pac-12 now appears to be on life support. Meanwhile, reports continued to swirl that Arizona had already applied and been accepted, but no word officially broke.

Then, later this afternoon, the news finally dropped that the three remaining “Four Corner Schools” are headed to the Big 12. This after a week of rampant speculation and hilarious memes. Seriously, the #realignment channel in the ODB Discord has been absolutely popping, and you should join in the fun.

The “Hateful 8”, the island of misfit toys left behind after 2 rounds of realignment in the Big 12, the leftovers that apparently no one wanted to play with, have survived after all.

There is surely a mixture of feelings to be expected across the college football landscape with this news. It is essentially the death of one of the oldest and most storied conferences in College Football, now that only 4 schools remain (Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State). But after years of poor leadership, lack of forward thinking, and poor on-field performance by their marquee teams, the Pac 12 set it self up for failure, and ultimately, its own demise. Let’s be clear, this started before the B1G initially took USC and UCLA. Arrogance and ego ran wild through the “Conference of Champions”. They could have delivered the death blow to the Big 12 years ago by taking on the bulk of our conference’s best teams, but then commissioner Larry Scott claimed the bar was too high for anyone else to join. They were too special, much like the leaders of the old Big East when it came to their expansion and TV options before their collapse.

Let’s be clear, the survival of the Big 12 over the possible Pac takeover years ago was not about tradition, or the health of the sport, or the good of athletes. It was all about perceived status and dollar signs. If the Pac would have merged with the Big 12 back then, they’d be more than fine today, and it’s possible half of the realignment we’ve seen over the last 2 years never happens. Instead, the Big 12 survived and became the harbinger of the Pac’s doom. They should have gone for the head.

Instead, we’ve seen a wildly unexpected turn of events for the Big 12. Nobody expected the conference to survive (ourselves included) after Texas and OU announced their departure in the summer of 2021. Yet the remaining 8 schools stuck together, figured out a plan, executed, and got themselves an absolute shark of a commissioner. And we mean that shark term literally, said one person to me at Big 12 media days regarding Yormark, “he’s a shark, he’s always looking for his next prey.” Now the Big 12 looks to have solidified itself as the preeminent conference in the land not named the SEC or B1G. It’s an impressive turn of events. Realignment sucks for everybody, but for once, it sure is nice to not be wondering where Baylor’s place in all of it is.

247’s Jason Scheer has been all over the realignment speculation for over a year and has proved his critics wrong. He says that the plan at present is for there to be an official announcement tomorrow, presumably welcoming all three schools to the Big 12.

From the brink of annihilation to the third 16-team conference in two years. What a ride it’s been.