As it turns out, Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State — left behind as the remaining Pac-12 teams after USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington agreed to join the Big Ten, and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah agreed to join the Big 12 — don’t have to find a new conference right away.

Or alternatively go independent. Nor do any of the other options that have been bandied about, including dropping to the FCS level or giving up football altogether, need to be considered.

The Pac-12 doesn’t have to die, either, even without immediate expansion or merger.

As reported by Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger, NCAA bylaws currently require that eight members are needed for an FBS conference.

However, as laid out by NCAA bylaw, the Pac-12 will continue to be considered an FBS league for two years after its memberships drops below the eight teams. Meaning the Cardinal, Bears, Beavers and Cougars can stay in the Pac-12 or Pac-4 until 2026.

Additionally, as reported Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, all four teams would remain eligible to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff, even while playing in a four-team conference.

There are serious challenges to the four teams remaining in the Pac-12 of course, for even another year, let alone two.

Foremost among those is that the conference’s media rights agreement expires after this season.

There is also the fact that, as Dellenger notes, Pac-12 schools currently are dealing with numerous legal issues, including a National Labor Relations Board employment claim; lawsuits from the Holiday Bowl and two former employees; plus more than $50 million owed by member schools to Comcast.

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Additionally, the conference almost definitely will also cease to be considered a Autonomous Five conference next season, a designation that had granted the Pac-12 “authoritative powers in rule-making,” and will also drop from the Power Five ranks, which will mean a further loss in revenue.

Scheduling issues are another possible issue, though playing independent teams and multiple games against the same conference opponents could be a solution.

A positive for the remaining Pac-12 schools is that with essentially three years of guaranteed survival, the league has time to expand and continue its existence, possibly by adding teams from the American Athletic Conference or the Mountain West Conference.

Currently exit fees to leave the MW are $34 million, but that number drops to $17 million for teams that want to leave in time for the 2025 season.

The exit fee to leave the AAC is negotiable, Dellenger reported, with previous schools like Cincinnati, Houston and UCF having left for between $10 and $17 million. But, he noted that the cost to leave the AAC now could be higher than ever, as departing schools would likely not be able to give the required 27-month notice to the conference.