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San Diego State staying in the Mountain West, and the Pac-12 media deal is still TBD

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 18 Utah at San Diego State Photo by Justin Fine/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we all know, conference realignment depends on conference media deals. That’s relevant today with San Diego State and the Pac-12. Let’s review....

Back on June 9, WSU President Kirk Schulz said he was about 70% confident that a Pac-12 TV deal would be done by the end of June. Well, here we are on July 1, and there’s no TV deal.

Now, remember: Schulz’s words came during a somewhat tense discussion and vote on the school’s athletics budget and the university transferring $1.4 million to the athletics budget. The media deal would help the athletic department solve some of its budget woes, and Schulz putting an optimistic bow on the discussion by bringing up the media deal may have been a deliberate tactic.

Here’s what I wrote back on June 10:

Schulz’s 70% confidence in a deal being done by the time June sunsets may be his optimistic and confident attitude showing, which definitely isn’t bad, but if we wake up on July 1 and there’s no deal, that’s not going to be good optics for the conference or Schulz.

So, here we are. It’s bad optics, at least to those of us who kept those words in mind when today rolled around. But it might be drowned out in the college sports world by the news that San Diego State University will remain in the Mountain West Conference, rather than submitting a formal withdrawal (yesterday was the deadline to do so without paying about $35 million).

A little more than an hour before Thamel reported that, Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated reported on the Pac-12 board meeting:

Dellenger’s thread said the Pac-12 won’t issue any invites to join the conference until a deal is done. Obviously, SDSU couldn’t wait, so we’re left waiting....again.

A few thought on all of this:

  • I’m not expecting a deal by media day on July 21, if Dellenger’s sources are correct. That’s a shame, too, because on a day when the conference should be celebrating its upcoming football season, all we’ll hear about is the lack of media deal and how there’s so much uncertainty with the conference.
  • San Diego State seems to have misplayed its hand with its letter to the Mountain West asking for special treatment in its quest to leave the conference. That letter probably should have been a phone call. On the flip side, perhaps SDSU wanted something in writing. Who knows. But that was the first sign that a Pac-12 media deal wasn’t getting done before today. Now the Aztecs are the live-in significant other who said they will break up but can’t find a place to live yet and are still sleeping on the couch.
  • With the Aztecs sticking around the Mountain West, the presumption is the earliest they’d join another conference would be for the 2025-26 sports season, unless they find $35 million laying around somewhere.
  • Don’t fret that the Big 12 announced its TV deal was officially official yesterday. That was just a formality to the deal being announced last fall.
  • I’ve said it before, and others have as well, but the Pac-12 REALLY can’t afford to screw this up.

Go Cougs.