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San Diego State says it intends to leave the Mountain West. Is the Pac-12 its next destination?

People are asking!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Toledo at San Diego State Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nothing like conference realignment to wake us all up from the dog days of summer.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported yesterday that, per sources, the San Diego State Aztecs sent a letter to the Mountain West Conference expressing its intentions to leave the league. It was not an official breakup letter.

Here’s a key passage from Thamel’s story:

In a letter, the school asked the Mountain West for a “one-month extension given unforeseen delays involving other collegiate athletic conferences beyond our control.” As of now, there does not appear to be an invitation to San Diego State from a Power 5 conference.

As Thamel reports, that one month extension is important: If SDSU officially breaks up with the MWC by June 30—which would mean the school would join another conference in time for the 2024-25 sports season—its exit fee is nearly $16.5 million. If it bolts after June 30 and plans on joining a new conference in 2024, that exit fee jumps to nearly $34 million, again, per Thamel.

The one month extension ask is an attempt to avoid the nearly $34 million fee.

Now, which conference is San Diego State looking at? Logic dictates that the Pac-12 and the Big 12 are in the Aztecs’ crosshairs, but the “unforeseen delays involving other collegiate athletic conferences beyond our control” feels like a reference to the Pac-12, even with the plural “conferences.”

Thamel cited a source saying the Aztecs do not have an offer from the Pac-12, for what its worth.

It’s no secret that San Diego State wants out of the Mountain West and into a Power 5 conference. Its athletic director, J.D. Wicker (a former WSU athletics administrator once upon a time) has said so publicly. The school is in an envious position: courting two interested conferences. The Pac-12 can’t miss on this one. Losing the Aztecs to the Big 12, and thus the southern California TV market, would be a huge loss for George Kliakoff and the presidents.

The Pac-12’s TV deal beyond this upcoming season is still unknown, and the Aztecs asking for another month makes me think we’ll still be waiting come July 1. But if that’s the case, the Aztecs could be opening up its recruitment, to steal a line from high school football players.

San Diego State is attempting to explore all options if the Pac-12 doesn’t get a TV deal done by June 30, according to a source.

San Diego State has a brand new football stadium, a strong football team and a men’s basketball team that was this year’s national runner up. It’s the perfect time to snag the school and the market. Plus, who wouldn’t want to travel to San Diego for a football away game?