Pac-12 Expansion: San Diego State, Fresno State Lead the Way

Pac-12 Expansion: San Diego State, Fresno State Lead the Way
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

We’re less than a month away from the opening kickoff of the 2022 college football season and the second season of Arizona sports betting.

As the season gets closer, one of the key questions has more to do with the boardroom than the gridiron, as the Pac-12 Conference looks to chart its path forward.

That decision was prompted by the lightning bolt that came on July 1, when USC and UCLA announced they’d leave the conference to join the Big Ten.

In the month since that announcement, much has been made about whether the Conference of Champions would band together or wither on the vine.

Using several benchmarks, such as facilities, as well as football and men’s basketball success and television market size, can offer hypothetical odds on which schools have a bona fide shot at getting a call from the Pac-12 in the months ahead.

Here’s our list of universities that have the best chance of joining Arizona and Arizona State in the Pac-12.

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Pac-12 Expansion Odds

🏈 San Diego State+150
🏈 Fresno State+400
🏈 Colorado State+525
🏈 SMU+520
🏈 Oklahoma State+1900
Hypothetical odds provided by and not offered for legal betting.

San Diego State Tops Our Pac-12 Candidate Pool

Based on our metrics, two California State University members are at the front of the list to join the Pac-12 — San Diego State and Fresno State.

The Aztecs have the edge over their Mountain West Conference rivals, thanks to their brand-new football stadium (Mission Valley’s Snapdragon Stadium), which opens its doors when SDSU hosts Arizona at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 3.  

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San Diego State also lays claim to one of the most successful football programs on the Left Coast, with 89 wins since 2012.

The Aztecs also sport an above-.500 record against current Pac-12 programs in the past decade, going 7-6 since 2012.

SDSU can lay claim to wins over Arizona (in 2021), Arizona State (in 2017 and 2018), California (in 2016), Stanford (in 2017), UCLA (in 2019), and Utah (in 2021).

Adding SDSU would also give the Pac-12 a foothold in the uber-competitive Southern California market and its more than 6.5 million households.

That’s an important factor, given the fact much of the conference’s talent comes from Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties.

Finally, SDSU adds claim to one of the best men’s basketball programs in the West, having won 247 games and making six NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament appearances since 2012.

The Aztecs have also pumped out NBA stars, such as Kawhi Leonard and Jalen McDaniels.

Don’t Count Out the Bulldogs

The other frontrunner from the CSU system hails from the heart of the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno State.

The Bulldogs have seen their fair share of success over the past decade, with four 10-win seasons under football coaches Tim DeRuyter, Jeff Tedford and Kalen DeBoer and 182 wins in basketball under Rodney Terry and Justin Hutson.

The Bulldogs also lay claim to 11 NFL Draft picks over the past 10 years, including current Las Vegas starting quarterback Derek Carr and 2019 first-round pick KeeSean Johnson.

Fresno State has posted a 4-8 record against current Pac-12 programs over the past decade.

The Fresno area is generally included in the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto TV market, which ranks 20th in the nation — which is larger than San Diego (28th).

The school’s men’s basketball program also counts Paul George as an alum.

The biggest impediment for SDSU and Fresno State may wind up being the long-standing icy relationship the University of California system has given their in-state brethren over the years.

That may wind up being less of an obstacle now, however, as the Pac-12 looks to be aggressive in building as powerful a conference as possible entering their TV media rights negotiation window.

Other Schools the Pac-12 Could Eye

After San Diego State and Fresno State, the choices are slim for George Kliavkoff and company, with a handful of state schools and smaller religious colleges dotting the landscape.

Heading up that list would be Colorado State, which has a gleaming football stadium (Canvas Stadium, opened in 2017), large TV market (Denver, 17th in the nation), and recent football and men’s basketball success in its back pocket.

Rounding out the list are a pair of schools in the Central Time Zone, Southern Methodist and Oklahoma State.  

SMU would give the Pac-12 a foothold in the Texas recruiting world but would pose issues with the conference’s long-held secular membership tradition.

The Cowboys would be the best of the public university options left in the Big 12, with five 10-win seasons and 10 bowl appearances since 2012. Oklahoma State, which played for the Big 12 title a year ago, is ranked third in Big 12 Championship futures at BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona at +550 — behind Oklahoma and Texas, which are leaving the league for the SEC.

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Breaking Down the Contenders

San Diego State

  • New football stadium (Snapdragon Stadium)
  • Great football success of late with 89 wins since 2012 and five 10-win seasons
  • Record vs. Pac-12 schools since 2012 is 7-6
  • 28th largest media market (1.065 million households)
  • Great men’s basketball success (247 wins since 2012; six NCAA Tournament appearances)

Fresno State 

  • Solid football success with 69 wins since 2012, including four 10-win seasons
  • Football stadium built in 1980
  • Record vs. Pac-12 schools since 2012 is 4-8
  • 20th largest media market including Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto
  • Modest basketball success (182 wins since 2012 and one NCAA Tournament appearance)

Colorado State  

  • Modest football success with 54 wins since 2012 and one bowl victory
  • New football stadium (Canvas Stadium built in 2017)
  • Record vs. Pac-12 schools since 2012 is 3-7
  • 17th largest TV market
  • Good basketball success with six 20-win seasons and three NCAA Tournament berths


  • 57 wins and one 10-win season since 2012
  • Ford Stadium built in 2000
  • No games against Pac-12 schools since 2012
  • Fifth largest media market (Dallas-Fort Worth)
  • Has 210 wins and five 20-win seasons in men’s basketball since 2012

Oklahoma State

  • Ninety wins, five 10-win seasons and seven bowl game victories since 2012
  • The football stadium, named after alumnus and key donor Boone Pickens, opened in 2009
  • Record vs. Pac-12 schools since 2012 is 3-1
  • 41st largest media market
  • Five men’s basketball 20-win seasons and five NCAA berths since 2012



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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