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Pac-12 expresses surprise, disappointment at UCLA, USC departure

The conference realistically can't replace UCLA and USC, but it will attempt to reboot and move on.

In its first public statement since UCLA and USC's stunning departure to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 confirmed it will not roll over and die without the Bruins and the Trojans. 

"We've long been known as the Conference of Champions, and we're unwavering in our commitment to extend that title," the league said in a statement.

Left unsaid, of course, was that the two Los Angeles schools won many of those championships. UCLA claims 119 NCAA team championships and USC 111, second and third to Stanford's 131. (Texas is a distant fourth, at 54.)

Pac-12 releases statement

The Pac-12 plans to solider on, and the obvious question is how.

The mind immediately goes to Oregon and, secondarily, to Washington and to Stanford. Do they try to join their SoCal neighbors in moving east? No one in college athletics expects the Big Ten to stop at 16. Then again, if the Big Ten really wanted them, why aren't they joining that league today?

The Pac-12's geography limits its expansion options. BYU is the strongest brand west of the Rockies, but it's long been reported ideological differences between the school and the California powers have made a potential Cougars addition a non-starter. Would that still be the case today? And would BYU U-turn out of the Big 12 to the conference the long snubbed their nose at them?

Speaking of the Big 12, it was 10 months ago when roughly half of the remaining Big 12 members desperately hoped the Pac-12 would send them a life raft to save them from their sinking ship.

Today, though, the vibe has changed. The Big 12 added BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, to join in 2023. It will play two seasons as a 14-team conference before Texas and OU leave. It's fresh off its most successful football season in years, with Cincinnati making the College Football Playoff, a thrilling Baylor-Oklahoma State championship game, and both the Bears and Cowboys winning New Year's Six games. The Big 12 has also won the last two men's basketball national titles.

A Big 12 source told FootballScoop on Thursday that the Big 12 schools may be more inclined to try to poach Pac-12 schools than leave their conference to save the Pac-12.

Stay tuned to The Scoop as the realignment world turns.