Our Conference Mock Draft: Pac-12 Edition

Our Conference Mock Draft: Pac-12 Edition

It's Alabama, Oregon and Tennessee... for starters

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Picking in the middle of the rounds made strategizing to keep rivals together a challenge, but we’ve got the finances to thrive once we’re inevitably forced to categorize student-athletes as employees.

The new Pac-12 is a clash of cultures instead. It’s still got the Pac-12 flavor, but as a temporary commish, I combined it with that SEC spice. Old rivalries have been replaced by newer cross-cultural ones. Once we put them in a conference together they’ll scrap for supremacy.

We have two things going for us in this post-amateurism world. We wanted the most committed, booster-led collectives, to manifest new rivalries between our West and South divisions, plus great weather all year long. The Pac-12 is done falling behind as the SEC and Big Ten separate from the field. We’re open for business.

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1. Alabama

1. Alabama

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Alabama automatically gives my new look Pac-12 a football-obsessed program with a national appeal to replace USC’s bougie fans. For years, the passion has been lacking from USC fans who show up late, distracted by all the other trappings of life in SoCal or utterly disinterested in conference games that weren’t against UCLA. Bama rules the south, and the only thing left to do is conquer the west coast.

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2. Oregon

2. Oregon

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Goodbye Auburn, hello Oregon. Rivalries are what we make them. Opposite Alabama, Oregon gives our conference a clash of cultures vibe. Rivalries These two culturally divergent programs will be defined by their tempestuous differences. Deep South vs. the Northwest. The Old Guard vs. the Vanguard. Nick Saban can’t outlast Nike’s influence and Phil Knight’s endowment to the Oregon athletic program, which will come in handy during the NIL era. Oregon’s Division Street is considered the second-most powerful NIL collective in the country, and they were instrumental in Dan Lanning landing Dante Moore, the third-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2023, which is just the start of Oregon’s revitalization.

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3. Tennessee

3. Tennessee

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The only NIL collective considered more influential than Oregon’s Division Street? Tennessee’s Spyre Sports already made a splash by negotiating an $8 million NIL deal with quarterback Nico Iamaleava. The Third Saturday in November rivalry lives on, and we get a quality hoops program. Will we regret picking them over LSU? Tennessee has still won the third-most SEC Tournaments in conference history behind Bama and UGA, and the Vols are heating up in the NIL era.

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4. Washington

4. Washington

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Even during its down years, Washington has been one of the 20 most valuable revenue-producing programs in the Pac-12. The Chris Petersen era was a reminder of how well Washington can recruit California, become a top-tier program in the Northwest, and a natural rival for Oregon. The hoops program has also done an excellent job recruiting Seattle, and football will benefit from the exposure of playing against Tennessee and Alabama annually. Keeping the third-highest valued school in the Pac-12 around was still a priority for us.

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5. Michigan State

5. Michigan State

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We’ve been concerned with profit for much of the draft, but Michigan State brings that blue-collar B1G attitude to our SEC/Pac-12 mashup. Michigan still has us seeing green, though. They’re one of the country’s 20 most profitable athletic programs, and their hoops program instantly becomes the conference’s premier program even after Tom Izzo calls it quits. In November, these schools from Oregon, Washington, and the south are in for a rude awakening when they have to trek into snowy Lansing, Michigan.

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6. Louisville

6. Louisville

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Even after Rick Pitino nearly sank the program, the Cardinals have the most profitable basketball program in the country. Their football program has grown from a seedling into an oak tree over the last 30 years.

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7. South Carolina

7. South Carolina

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Machiavellian, unscrupulous, and ruthless. That’s the only way to describe the Big Ten snagging Kentucky from right underneath the new Pac-12’s nose in the seventh round of our draft. It’s the type of Machiavellian move that inspires endless inter-conference wars. It might be time for a Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. Nothing is stopping South Carolina from ascending into national prominence the way Clemson has. Dawn Staley has shown South Carolina the possibilities. Their women’s hoops team, led by Staley, is a juggernaut that’s won more national titles than Kentucky’s men this decade.

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8. Houston

8. Houston

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Our entry into Texas is through a program whose investment in football has ballooned. In 2019, they doubled coaching and basketball coaching salaries, which shows their commitment to spending big after pushing to join the Big 12. Earlier this summer, they also announced a $150 million fundraising campaign. Like most of our new Pac-12 programs, the Cougars have impressive growth potential.

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9. SMU

9. SMU

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We might as well let Houston cruise with the Mustangs to flesh out our Southern Division. Additionally, we’ve now got a grip on Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston markets and incredible recruiting hotbeds. The death penalty to SMU was administered almost 30 years ago, and now that NCAA amateurism rules have been relaxed, let’s see what they can do now.

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10. Arizona

10. Arizona

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Surprisingly, one of the best blue blood college hoops programs was still available. Tommy Lloyd has the Wildcats in a position to compete for Final Fours, even if football is a walkover. Their softball program has won more total titles than any program besides UCLA, and Arizona gives our conference respectability when March Madness rolls around.

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11. Arizona State

11. Arizona State

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This pick is mostly about Keeping Arizona State in the mix, keeping the Duel in the Desert rivalry alive, and winning the College World Series. They’ve been a football magnet for Their college baseball and softball programs, have won seven combined national titles and produced a few of the most invincible teams.

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12. Boise State

12. Boise State

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We could have gone with San Diego State to get inroads into California, but Boise State has been the preeminent Power 5 outsider for 20 years. Boise State would have been in a Power 5 program a decade ago if they didn’t hail from the plains of Idaho. Boise State’s inclusion gives us two programs that possess the four highest winning percentages in college football history. Our conference has made enough revenue, and we don’t need to extend to the blue oceans of California if the iconic blue turf is in the Pac-12.

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