In business, relationships, and several aspects of life, the saying is the same: timing is everything.
For San Diego State, the timing is not going to get much better.
Sources tell ESPN’s Pete Thamel that SDSU gave the Mountain West written notice of its intent to leave the conference.
The only stipulation that San Diego State put in the notice was a request for a “one-month extension given unforeseen delays involving other collegiate athletic conferences beyond our control.”
To this point, there has been no indication that San Diego State has been formally invited to join another conference, most likely the PAC-12.
A brand new football stadium. Men’s basketball championships in the Mountain West and NCAA South Region and a national runner-up honor. Softball’s first appearance in an NCAA Super Regional.
Timing is everything. Money, too.
The “big business” aspect of college sports has been on the rise for decades. In this new era of NIL, transfer portals, and valuations of media rights deals growing to the billions, the biggest difference is being blunter in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.
None of us know what will happen to the pageantry of college sports. But it is no longer realistic for a conference like the Mountain West to ask SDSU to stay and take roughly $4 million a year from a media rights deal compared to a PAC-12 deal that is not done yet but will safely be worth significantly more. By comparison, even with the loss of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, Big 12 programs will bring in roughly $26 million each after the conference expands to 14 schools.
Those numbers are still chump change compared to the Big Ten and SEC, but for a school like San Diego State, it’s a gold mine.
As Thamel notes, part of the timing is also attached to San Diego State’s exit fee from the Mountain West. If SDSU waits past June 30, the fee jumps from $16.5 million to $34 million.
The question of “when” has been answered (somewhat).
The question of “if” now shifts to whether San Diego State picks the Big 12 or Pac 12.
“I think they end up in the Pac 12”, said Matt Brown, publisher of the Extra Points Newsletter, on a recent appearance on TEAM Talk. “They [SDSU] would prefer to be in the Pac 12”.
“They want to have the academic cache of saying that they are a peer institution to a Stanford or Cal. This is something that their boosters and their regents have aspired to really since the 1970s. And it is a much tighter geographic fit for them”.
Football schedules are coming out for 2024, and USC and UCLA are set to make cross-country trips to State College, PA (Penn State), New Brunswick, NJ (Rutgers), College Park, MD (Maryland), and others in their respective debut Big Ten seasons.
Even with piles of money coming into these universities, there is still a cost analysis to be done that does not appeal to everyone.
Will the Mountain West take some short-term damage? Probably. The winning formula is there for the taking to create the next Mountain West gold standard.