Oregon State and Washington State have approached every Group of Five conference while attempting to assemble schedules for the 2024 college football season. The Beavers and Cougars are planning to play as a two-team league for at least next season, sources tell CBS Sports.
The revelation came as the two schools won a preliminary injunction Tuesday night making them the only remaining board members of the Pac-12. As such, Oregon State and Washington State control Pac-12 revenue, which could approach as much as $500 million. This as the other 10 members depart for the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC next year.
Tuesday’s injunction issued by Whitman County judge Gary Libey is expected to be appealed. The case could end up in the Washington Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court. The two sides remain in mediation.
For now, Oregon State and Washington State are in active pursuit of assembling schedules to compete on their own under a Pac-12 banner. NCAA rules require a minimum of eight teams to form a conference; however, there is a two-year grace period before that rule would impact the Beavers and Cougars.
A person involved in the discussions termed Oregon State and Washington State playing as their own conference as a “realistic” possibility.
It’s not clear how a two-team conference would work. The teams could play once or perhaps home-and-home and either coordinate the other 10 opponents they play, build their own individual schedules or some combination of the two.
There is less certainty regarding a scheduling format than about their willingness to go forward alone. The schools have taken a “carpet bomb” approach to soliciting Group of Five leagues while assembling their schedules, a source with knowledge of the situation told CBS Sports.
“It would be the Pac-12 competing under the Pac-12 brand with very few conference games obviously,” that source said.
The schools won Tuesday’s preliminary injunction against the other 10 Pac-12 schools citing “irreparable harm” — such as the scheduling issues — once the other 10 left.
Oregon State and Washington State continue to work with former ESPN executive Dave Brown, who is considered the industry leader in building college football schedules. The Sun Belt rejected a proposal for a “short-term scheduling alliance,” Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week.
Whether Oregon State and Washington State — as the “Pac-12” — get access to the 12-team College Football Playoff beginning next season is unknown. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was asked earlier this season whether the schools should be considered a conference given the NCAA loophole. “The NCAA is not the CFP,” Sankey said.
Because there is expected to be an appeal by the end of the week, control of that $500 million doesn’t have much meaning until that appeal is resolved. Also, under California corporate law, there is a chance a majority of the remaining 10 Pac-12 schools could vote to dissolve the league. Then the remaining assets would be distributed evenly.
However, if Oregon State and Washington State win final control of the revenue, they could use it to help pay the exit fees of other conference schools — most notably Mountain West schools — to form a “new” Pac-12.
“Nothing’s going to change in the Pac-12,” Libey said. “The athletes will still be competing. The schools will still be doing business. [The] Pac-12 will still be doing business but will be governed by the two universities that have not submitted their notice of withdrawal.