As USF continues to move toward building an on-campus football stadium, the Bulls should keep an eye on San Diego State. What’s happening with the Aztecs represents a best-case scenario for what might happen in Tampa.
Pac-12 insiders expect the league to pursue expansion soon after their new media rights deal is announced in the coming weeks. And the belief in the industry is that San Diego State will be the Pac-12′s top (and perhaps only) target. The Aztecs are, as CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd wrote this week, the sport’s “next hottest realignment candidate.”
One major reason why? The $310 million stadium it opened last season.
“Pac-12 folks have been impressed with what we’ve done,” athletic director J.D. Wicker told CBS Sports. “(Pac-12) commissioner George Kliavkoff said to invest in football. I have a $310 million investment.”
And that’s where USF ears should perk up.
The Bulls are working toward their own investment that will be probably in the same ballpark — bad pun intended — as what San Diego State spent. The Aztecs’ stadium is also about the same size as what USF envisions (35,000 seats). One of the upcoming, non-football events it will host is a world lacrosse championship; USF has also discussed the possibility of hosting NCAA lacrosse events at its stadium.
Conference realignment is complex, and a new stadium doesn’t guarantee a Power Five invitation. If USC and UCLA weren’t headed to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 probably might not be eyeing San Diego State. A new stadium at USF might not attract the Big 12 on its own, either; that conference has said it wants to expand into another time zone, and it already has this one covered. The Big 12 footprint, however, does not include the Pacific Time Zone, which is why San Diego State is a possible (but less likely) option there, too.
But USF fans hoping for an invitation to a more prestigious conference should follow what’s happening at San Diego State over the next few months. If the Aztecs can use a new stadium to help jump from a mid-major league to the Power Five, perhaps the Bulls can, too.
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