Arizona, ASU Conference Future: What Are the Odds They Leave the Pac-12?

Arizona, ASU Conference Future: What Are the Odds They Leave the Pac-12?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

We’re less than a month away from the opening week of the college football season, which means that Arizona sports betting fans have reason to rejoice.

Between the Arizona Wildcats (who kick off their season Sept. 3 against San Diego State) and the Arizona State Sun Devils (who play NAU on Sept. 1), there’s no shortage of on-field intrigue for football fans entering the fall.

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Off the gridiron, the main question surrounding both schools is the future of their athletics programs.

That’s thanks to the salvo fired by USC and UCLA in the early morning hours of July 1, when both Pac-12 cornerstones announced they’d jettison nine decades worth of tradition to join the Big Ten in all sports.

That leaves the other 10 universities left to fend for themselves, as pundits ponder whether the conference will be able to withstand losing two of its most prestigious programs.

While we’re forced to sit back and wait for the smoke signals to emanate from Tempe and/or Tucson, we can glean some information about their future conference affiliations from what we’ve learned so far.

We know the Pac-12 will likely survive in its current form until at least 2024, when the conference’s media rights deal expires and the Trojans and Bruins depart for the Big Ten.

The conference will almost assuredly explore expansion, with San Diego State leading the odds board of likely new Pac-12 members.

Here’s a look at where sees Arizona and Arizona State winding up in the years ahead.

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Arizona Next Conference Odds

Stay in Pac-12-400
Big 12 +900
Big Ten+900
Mountain West+3200
Hypothetical odds produced by and not available for wagering.

How We See the Wildcats' Future

Our calculations about Arizona stem in large part from the school’s longstanding commitment to academics and its relationship to the remaining Pac-12 members.

The Wildcats are one of 63 universities in the country to achieve Association of American Universities status, meaning they are considered a worldwide leader in “innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to scientific progress, economic development, security, and well-being,” as the AAU’s website states.

Of those 63 schools, nine are members of the current iteration of the Pac-12 (Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Colorado, and Washington), compared to the Big-12’s two members (Kansas and Texas).

Quite simply, Arizona would have an awkward fit academically and socially with the Big 12’s current member institutions.

While we know academics doesn’t run the show in collegiate athletics, it’s a hard sell for university presidents to leave an established academic juggernaut like the Pac-12 for a lesser setup, such as the Big 12.

After that, the only other options (realistically) for the Wildcats are either to somehow enter the Big Ten (which seems nigh impossible, given the conference’s refusal to accept more established programs, Oregon and Washington).

It doesn’t seem like the Wildcats would take a step down from the “Power Five” as far as conference affiliation is concerned, so there’s not much of a shot they’d leave for the Mountain West Conference.

Finally, the days in which a program could go independent in football are dead and gone, with Notre Dame being the only successful program to go it alone on the gridiron.

Even the Fighting Irish are considering abandoning their long-held football independence, speaking to the lack of value schools see in staying outside the current conference setup for football.

That leaves Arizona hoping the Ducks and Huskies don’t bail out on the Pac-12, as it’s the best option that the Wildcats have at the moment.

Arizona State Next Conference Odds

Stay in Pac-12-550
Big 12 +900
Mountain West+3900
Big Ten+4900
Hypothetical odds produced by and not available for wagering.

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How We See the Sun Devils' Future

One theme that’s emerged under the leadership of President Michael Crow and Athletic Director Ray Anderson is the Sun Devils are not fans of change.

One can discern that, simply by monitoring how the school has stuck it out with embattled head football coach Herm Edwards, even after the NCAA announced an investigation into illegal recruiting tactics.

Somehow, Edwards has managed to retain his job, even though five assistant coaches (including defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce and offensive coordinator Zak Hill) resigned due to the NCAA’s investigation this offseason.

It appears there’s a staunch commitment to the status quo, which means folks like Crow and Anderson are probably loath to undertake a multiyear rebuild of the school’s culture that comes with changing conferences. 

Another facet to remember is Crow loves to, well, crow about how ASU is a leader in “innovation,” with the longtime ASU president spouting off one-liners about how the Sun Devils rank ahead of schools like Stanford and Harvard by that metric.

It’s hard to see Crow turning around and abandoning the Cardinal to leave for the Big 12, so that’s why we put them at a higher percentage to remain in the Pac-12 than their in-state rivals in Tucson.

After that, there’s really no other option for ASU. Just as with Arizona, the Big Ten won’t come calling, and taking a substantial cut in media revenue to play in the Mountain West or as an independent would be a no-go for any wise college administrator right now.

That means the Sun Devils and Wildcats, whether they like it or not, are destined to likely remain in the “Conference of Champions” in the years ahead, playing schools like Oregon State and Washington State, instead of Texas Tech and Kansas State.

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2022 Pac-12 Football Championship Odds

According to Arizona betting apps, the Arizona and Arizona State football programs won’t be giving their fans reason to forget the two schools are on delicate ground when it comes to conference affiliation.

The Sun Devils and Wildcats are in the bottom five in title odds, and both schools’ odds have gotten worse in the last month.

🏈 USC+200
🏈 Utah+225
🏈 Oregon+300
🏈 UCLA+1000
🏈 Washington+1600
🏈 Oregon State+3300
🏈 Washington State+5000
🏈 Arizona State+5000
🏈 California+6600
🏈 Stanford+8000
🏈 Colorado+25000
🏈 Arizona+35000
Odds provided by BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona.



Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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