SDSU’s recruiting classes were built on Pac-12 promises

SDSU's offense erupts in celebration after scoring a touchdown on Monday. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Whispers of the Pac-12’s courting of SDSU began in the summer of 2022. Sources indicated to EVT that the possibility of playing in a Power 5 conference was used as motivation for players inside the program before last season.

Following Dan Patrick’s reporting that SDSU was getting an invite to the top conference on the west coast, the Aztecs grew more public in their declarations. JD Wicker, SDSU’s Athletic Director, said at the time, the university was involved in conference realignment discussions with multiple potential partners.

On early signing day in December for the Class of 2023, defensive line commit Brady Nassar pulled the curtain back on what the school was saying outside of the public’s eye.

“They’re pretty sure, Pac-12,” Nassar said six months ago when asked what the coaches were telling recruits. “Why wouldn’t you take San Diego State? The market, the team, the level of play they’re at, and the location are all fit for the Pac-12. (The coaches are) pretty certain … they’re going to the Pac-12 in ‘24.”

Nassar also said one of the reasons he chose the Aztecs was the opportunity to play against Colorado on an annual basis. When CU hired Deion Sanders, it did not honor the scholarship offer the previous staff had given to Nassar.

This week on an upcoming episode of The SDSU Podcast, the Aztecs’ most recent 2024 commit, Arthur Ban, a TE from Vancouver, Washington, echoed Nassar’s declarations about SDSU’s future conference affiliation.

“It’s exciting to think they might move up to the Pac-12 or the Big XII,” Ban said. “Between those two, that’s just exciting because of more competition… it’s just a bigger stage. It’s exciting thinking I’d be able to play in that environment and a program like that. I spoke with (tight end) coach (Savai’i) Eselu, and it’s looking like the Pac-12 more than the Big XII is what it’s leaning towards.”

Like Nassar, Ban said the reason he chose the Aztecs was that SDSU would be in a power conference by the time he arrived on campus. Nassar and Ban’s comments, uttered six months apart, reveal the program already believed in the fall of 2022 that it will be in the Pac-12 in 2024.

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The deluge of media and pseudo-media predictions of the Aztecs’ imminent departure to greener pastures has so far proved unfounded. With the June 30th deadline for the university to notify the Mountain West of its departure without triggering a massive increase in the exit fee, the next few weeks will reveal if the predictions SDSU used to lure recruits were true.

On Friday, Washington State President Kirk Shulz addressed the school’s regents. His comments fit SDSU’s needed timeline.

“We expect to have a resolution at the end of the month,” Schulz said. “…I never thought we would still be in June negotiating and working with our media partners around what that final deal would be.”

When asked, “on a scale of 1-10, do you believe you’ll get there at the end of June,” Schulz replied, “I don’t like to talk to the media about this because I already said I think it’s imminent and it’s been imminent for three months. I put it at probably a seven.”

Should the Pac-12 fail to meet Schulz’s prediction this time, the Aztecs may be forced to pivot to another opportunity, the Big XII. Publicly and privately to recruits, SDSU has also said the Big XII remains a possibility.

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