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Pac-12 to explore expansion options

The Pac-12 will pursue expansion, but who out there is worth pursuing? And would they even come?

We're now more than 24 hours removed from USC and UCLA's departure from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, and it still feels no less weird. Imagine Major League Baseball trying to move on without the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Either way, the Pac-12 can either move forward or shrivel and die, and the league is choosing the former. The conference confirmed in statement Friday it is pursuing expansion opportunities.

The question, of course, is who.

It's unlikely to the point of fantasy to think anyone leaves the Big Ten or the SEC for a Pac-12 with a Los Angeles-sized hole in its map. The ACC has a Grant of Rights bindings its members to the conference until 2036. Notre Dame ain't coming.

So that leaves the Big 12 and the Mountain West.

San Diego State, Boise State and the like are there for the taking, but this is about more than nabbing Top 25 football programs. It's about finding universities that Cal, Stanford and the rest are willing to share a table with.

BYU has the biggest brand west of the Rockies, but will ideological differences stand in the way? 

The southern quadrant of Big 12 schools would've killed for a Pac-12 invitation ten months ago, but has that moment passed? A Big 12 source indicated Thursday it's more likely that Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and the like attempt to poach Pac-12 members as it is that they leave for that conference. If BYU's religious affiliation presents a problem for the Pac-12, does the same apply to Baylor? And is it even worth moving two time zones over to get programs you passed on last year?

And then there's the elephant in the room. Oregon and Washington have reportedly inquired about joining USC and UCLA's Gulfstream to Big Ten headquarters. It remains to be seen whether or not the Ducks and Huskies ever get B1G invites, but what candidate worth the trouble is going to join a Pac-12 that its best remaining brands are trying to leave? 

That's a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. We'll have to stay tuned as the Pac-12 attempts to figure this out in real time.