ESPN’s Paul Finebaum doesn’t believe there is a long-term future for the Pac-12 Conference.

The renowned college football expert instead predicted that poor leadership is a major factor destined to lead to the Power Five league’s collapse — and it may happen in the next few years.

On Tuesday morning, Finebaum, who works on the SEC Network, joined the McElroy and Cubelic “In The Morning” college football talk show to discuss a variety of topics pertaining to the sport.

Near the end of the segment, host Greg McElroy — a former NFL and Alabama quarterback — asked Finebaum if the Pac-12 would still be around in 2026.

“I don’t believe so. I don’t know how it can, Greg,” Finebaum said. “Because it’s, the situation is so fragile right now. (Pac-12) leadership is better than it was, but it’s still not very good.” 

Finebaum then turned his attention to Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, who replaced the embattled Larry Scott in 2021. 

“And, you know, I could give the new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, a pass because maybe a year, a year and a half ago, his predecessor literally ran this thing into the ground. But he’s had enough time and I think, so far, you have to give him a failing grade,” he said.

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There is plenty of speculation surrounding the future of the Pac-12, with the conference losing flagship members USC and UCLA to the Big Ten next year, which will drop the league to 10 teams and lose the coveted Los Angeles market. 

The league is also in negotiations for its next media rights agreement, yet there’s been no deal struck despite entering the negotiations last summer. The Pac-12’s current TV deal expires in 2024.

It’s a process that has dragged on and led to postulating that the Pac-12 could lose members to another conference like the Big 12, where new commissioner Brett Yormark hasn’t been shy about his desire for the conference to expand further west.

Earlier this month, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Colorado met with the Big 12 in May, and while Colorado likely wouldn’t jump to the Big 12 until after it sees what kind of money each school would receive annually with the Pac-12’s new television deal, “Colorado’s patience has waned.”

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For now, the Pac-12 has stood pat regarding its membership since USC and UCLA announced last summer that they were leaving for the Big Ten, though there have been reports that the conference has explored expansion, with San Diego State and SMU the likely top candidates.

Finebaum, though, predicted that eventually, the Pac-12 will disintegrate and some of its universities will be picked up by other Power Five leagues.

“And ultimately, as much as big conferences don’t really want to expand at the moment, I think they’ll be forced to take the cream of the crop out there, whether it’s the Big Ten going after the northwest schools, whether it’s Colorado or Arizona or somebody else deciding to go to the Big 12, I do not believe the Pac-12 can exist,” Finebaum concluded.