Calfootball coach Justin Wilcox, who played in the Pac-10 and has spent much of his career in the Pac-12, called Friday's departures of five teams to other conferences "sad" and likely preventable.
After Oregonand Washingtonannounced their departures for the Big Ten in 2024, and Arizona, Arizona Stateand Utahdid the same to join the Big 12, Cal is one of only four remaining Pac-12 members, along with Stanford, Oregon Stateand Washington State.
The departures rocked the 108-year-old conference, which had already lost USCand UCLAto the Big Ten. Big Ten presidents initially considered adding Cal and Stanford as well last week, according to sources, before honing in on Oregon and Washington.
Wilcox played defensive back at Oregon and had several family members suit up for the Ducks, including his father, Dave Wilcox, a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Justin Wilcox served as defensive coordinator at both Washington and USC, and he is in his second stint at Cal.
"There's no denying the significance of this," Wilcox told reporters Sunday. "This is as big a deal as it gets to be. Really kind of shocking. Personally, it's sad. ... From what I know, it probably didn't need to come to this, but things happened along the way and really unfortunate.
"So it's frustrating, there's some anger in there, but right now, what we're focused on is this season."
Wilcox has communicated what he would like to see going forward to athletic director Jim Knowlton and chancellor Carol Christ. He said securing Cal's conference plan for 2024 and beyond is both urgent and important, as recruits and others are concerned.
"There's concern from everywhere, I get it," he said. "Right now, we don't have enough information to answer the questions we're getting."
Wilcox is the first coach of the four remaining Pac-12 schools to speak out since the five departures, but Washington State's Jake Dickert hinted at what could be coming Thursday, questioning the influence of media companies in shaping conferences and realignment.
"The old question of: How long would it take TV money to destroy college football? Maybe we're here," Dickert said. "To think even remotely five years ago, the Pac-12 would be in this position, it's unthinkable to think we're here today. To think local rivalries are at risk and fans driving four hours to watch their team play in a road game is at risk, to me, is unbelievable. ... We'll look back at college football in 20 years and say, 'What are we doing?'"