With the future of the Pac-12 still very much at odds, let’s take a look at how Washington would fit into the Big 12 and why I believe it could be a good addition to the conference.
Washington’s football program is arguably its most intriguing aspect in terms of the value it could add to a conference should the talks of realignment eventually come to fruition.
Washington finished their 2022 season with an impressive 11-2 record (7-2 Pac-12), topped off by a 27-20 win over Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Huskies came in at No. 8 in the final AP poll rankings of the season and No. 12 in the week 15 College Football Playoff rankings.
Head coach Kalen DeBoer has taken what was a four-win Washington team in 2021 and turned it into a serious Pac-12 title contender going into the 2023 season. DeBoer is seemingly on track to continue his success as Washington has already signed seven four-star recruits for the 2023 season, according to 247Sports. Between high school recruits and transfer portal commits, Washington now ranks 27th in the nation in recruiting for 2023. While it is still early in the recruiting process, UW’s recruiting class currently outranks every school in the new Big 12 at this point, with TCU being the only exception.
With Washington extending DeBoer’s head coaching contract through 2028, it’s safe to assume that the Huskies will continue to thrive in college football for many years to come.
While Washington’s football resume is certainly stacked, there is a little bit to be desired in basketball as of the past couple of years. Washington currently sits tenth in the Pac-12 standings with a 0.500 record of 13-13 (5-10 Pac-12). Despite having a relatively mediocre season this year, the Huskies have historically been pretty good at basketball and have competed well against some of the top teams in the country on a fairly consistent basis.
Throughout the program’s history, Washington has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 17 times (one Final Four appearance) and maintains a record of 19-18 throughout those 17 appearances. The Huskies’ most recent tournament berth was in the 2018-2019 season when they made it to the Round of 32 before getting knocked out by the 1-Seeded Tar Heels of North Carolina.
Regardless of how UW’s basketball program has done in the past, it’s no secret that if they were to join the Big 12, they would be competing against the highest level of competition in every game. With this in mind, joining the best conference in basketball would, in all likelihood, do wonders for the Huskies’ recruiting, and thus foster a better, more competitive program as time goes on.
While there aren’t a whole lot of accolades attached to the Washington Husky name when it comes to NCAA baseball, with only one college world series appearance in program history, UW at least has a baseball program which is more than Iowa State can say.
It’s also important to note that, unlike basketball which is competitive from top to bottom, the Big 12 is very top-heavy when it comes to baseball. Additionally, because baseball is so rarely nationally broadcasted, there likely wouldn’t be any financial downfall resulting from a UW addition to the conference.
All things considered, the University of Washington has more than enough to offer the Big 12 if they were to leave the Pac-12 at some point in the near future. Their football resume alone would make them an extremely valuable addition to the conference. As far as I’m concerned though, any school that beats Texas, especially in a Bowl game, deserves to be welcomed with open arms.