The fall of 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of Aztec football and the christening of a new stadium. Yet neither major event is necessarily the biggest news.
San Diego, CA – Just when SDSU athletic director John David Wicker expected to enjoy a celebratory 100th milestone fall football season; one to surpass all others before it – as you christen a new ultra-modern stadium, remember ALL HELL has just broken loose.
Southern California sports titans UCLA and USC kicked off the Santa Ana winds three months ahead of schedule by going full bore Jerry McGuire with the BIG 10. Los Angeles’ premier universities have used their best (financial) options for the future, even if it comes at the expense of student-athletes who will be pushed to the limit to compete across the country.
Now the PAC-12 headquarters is proverbially on fire, black smoke billowing from its roof. The robbed conference now finds itself looking down the barrel of a gun and facing a real existential threat. The ability to go from “Hero” to “Zero” in record time is very real.
PAC-12 Commissioner Georgi Klyavkov was caught flat-footed and was clearly shaken by the news. He won’t be able to follow in the footsteps of the Mountain West’s own Craig Thompson who were quietly handing out trophies until all the noise from last year’s reshuffle died down. No: Kliavkoff needs to apply a tourniquet to the conference corps’ now-missing right leg and fend off a school of BIG 12 piranhas that have smelled blood and are now circling the conference in a red sea of chaos. Will Washington and Oregon transfer next time? What will Stanford and Cal do? What are UA and ASU considering?
The dream of so many Aztecs fans and alumni has been to one day enter the expanded Pac-12, or even perhaps supplant Washington State as an emerging perennial top-25 program in football and basketball caliber, complete with record-setting Olympic sports teams. SDSU is now a university that demonstrates academic excellence; operates as a true research university and has demonstrated Power Five competitiveness for years. SDSU is ready for prime time.
Still, with the PAC-12 at risk of total collapse — or worse: being populated by a bunch of second-rate wannabes, joining a gutted conference would be like being in the movie Titanic 2.
So instead of enjoying the summer, JD Wicker is playing chess.
Famous for managing land policy in San Diego to secure the property for Snapdragon Stadium (and the expanded Mission Valley campus) and beyond actually built the stadium on time will move to the background. The toast to the 100th season will be overshadowed by a massive, glaring, Herculean question.
This question will be tough. This cannot be ignored and will indelibly define the future of all Aztec sports and potentially steal the thunder of a victory lap that Wicker and Co. they deserve. This question is ALL about the future of Aztecs sports.
Will SDSU rise in realignment to FINALLY make the Power Five?
No one will judge Wicker if he, like Craig Thompson, remains paralyzed and a year from now the same teams are in the same Mountain West Conference going through the same average motions.
Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot if San Diego State wants to advance to the next level. NOW is the time to go big or go home. Now is the time for JD Wicker to make the moves that will establish him as SDSU’s most successful and transformative athletic director of all time. What an exciting exclamation point to an already historic fall season that could be.