If you have a pulse, you are likely no stranger to college football's most polarizing news story of the week, the latest domino in conference realignment. Long story short, Colorado left the Pac-12 to rejoin the Big 12 leaving the Pac-12 with nine members.
Beyond the existential crisis of the Pac-9, the conference's members must find another non-conference game since the league now has an eight-game conference slate. Since several schools schedule games years and sometimes over a decade in advance, the remaining Pac-12 schools have a small window to fill their schedules. All but one of the remaining Pac-9 schools have already scheduled an FCS school, worsening the situation.
Despite remaining a quiet onlooker of the conference realignment chaos, Army arguably benefits the most from this situation in the Group of Five. Choosing to stay independent, Army has two openings on its 2024 schedule. The Black Knights already have one FCS game scheduled, making it likely that 2024 would be the third year of having two FCS opponents on the docket.
Now, Army has an opportunity to play a unique opponent and may have enough leverage to ask for a home-and-home. Since 1989, Army has played Pac-12 schools three times. The Black Knights traveled to Washington in 1995 and played a home-and-home series with Stanford in 2013 and 2014.
For PAC-9 teams, scheduling Army has significant benefits compared to other Group of Five schools. While the Black Knights have a national following for obvious reasons, the Black Knights also have a substantial following in multiple Pac-9 markets.
Major Army bases Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington and Fort Huachuca in Arizona are near multiple PAC-9 schools. Lewis-McCord is less than five hours from the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State while Fort Huachuca is less than three hours from both Arizona schools.
Additionally, should Army ask for a home-and-home series, they give PAC-9 fans the opportunity to make a bucket list trip to Michie Stadium. Michie Stadium is one of college football's crown jewels, situated by the Hudson River and rich with history. The stadium is a must-see for several college football fans as a Saturday at The Point oozes with patriotism.
Some PAC-9 fans can experience this if Army and certain PAC-9 schools act quickly. The local economy also benefits from this tourism. Local fans are more inclined to attend a rare type of intersectional matchup for the Black Knights.
Additionally, Army receives a significant recruiting edge over their Service Academy rivals by scheduling a PAC-9 school. While Navy has a guaranteed Power Five game every year, it is against the same opponent, Notre Dame. While Army can not guarantee their players a chance to compete for a conference championship, they can promise their players will play against a variety of Power Five schools, and a game against a PAC-9 strengthens this recruiting pitch.
The PAC-9 are not the only ones forced into quick action with this week's events. Army must also monitor the situation closely to bolster its future non-conference schedules and avoid playing two FCS schools for the third straight year.