Dec 3, 2022; Boise, Idaho, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs head coach Jeff Tedford and quarterback Jake Haener (9) hoist the Mountain West Championship trophy after the game versus the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. Fresno State defeats Boise State 28-16. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

As the Pac-12 prepares to become the Pac-2, the conference’s two remaining schools are moving forward with plans that could ultimately result in a merger with the Mountain West.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger, Oregon State and Washington State have re-engaged with the Mountain West regarding a two-year football scheduling alliance with the league. Per Dellenger, such an alliance “may serve as a first step in a long-term partnership or even merger” between the two remaining Pac-12 schools and the Mountain West.

The two sides are believed to be “close” on such an agreement, although it likely won’t be official for several days. Mountain West officials have been having meetings regarding the matter throughout the week, including a gathering of the league’s presidents on Thursday.

While there are still details that need to be ironed out, it appears that the agreement would begin with a 7+1 scheduling model for Mountain West schools in which Mountain West teams would play seven games against conference opponents plus one against either Oregon State or Washington State, which wouldn’t count toward the league standings. Additionally, Oregon State and Washington State would operate as quasi-independents and wouldn’t be eligible for the Mountain West championship.

In addition to a lucrative financial package for Mountain West members, the agreement is expected to “feature a long-term commitment to the conference with an intent at a full merger beyond this two-year cycle,” as well as “a financial penalty that can be levied upon Oregon State and Washington State if the two programs attempt to acquire only a portion of MWC schools in the future.”

With the Pac-12’s TV deal with ESPN and Fox set to end after this academic year, Oregon State and Washington State are expected to negotiate separate broadcasting agreements with current MWC partners Fox and CBS, as well as potentially others, to televise their home games for the next two seasons. Mountain West home games against Oregon State and Washington State would air on the conference’s current network partners.

News of the Pac-12 and Mountain West moving toward a likely merger comes just days after Oregon State and Washington State won a preliminary injunction against the 10 departing Pac-12 schools, granting the two remaining members full governing authority over the league and its more than $400 million in assets. The departing Pac-12 schools are reportedly filing an appeal.

Such a merger would have major implications for the new College Football Playoff 12-team format that will go into effect next season. While the model currently calls for the six highest ranked conference champions to receive automatic bids, FBS commissioners have recommended shrinking the number of automatic bids to conference champions to five.

Commissioners have also established a policy that requires a conference to have eight members for its champion to be eligible for an automatic bid. As such, Oregon State and Washington State would only be eligible for at-large bids to the College Football Playoff until their potential merger with the Mountain West is completed.

[Yahoo Sports]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.