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Realignment News (and Rumors)

August 25th

Big 12 Commissioner: “The Big 12 has every expectation that we will continue to compete at the highest levels”

From CBS Sports … SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby have responded to Tuesday’s announcement of an alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. That alliance, created in the aftermath of the SEC’s power move to poach Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, was short on details from its three commissioners. However, it covered broad philosophical topics such as scheduling and governance.

“We have respect for each of our conference colleagues and look forward to our future collaborations,” Sankey said in a statement. “I believe we remain unified by our shared beliefs around the positive impact college sports has on the lives of student-athletes and throughout our communities. In the SEC, we are proud of our collective academic commitment and athletics accomplishments and look forward to continuing to offer our student-athletes great educational and championship opportunities in the years ahead.”

Bowlsby, meanwhile, projected a message of confidence on behalf of his conference Wednesday, even though the new alliance appears to leave the Big 12 on an island in the evolving college sports landscape. Bowlsby pointed out what many observers have noted: that the details and real implications of the partnership between the three conferences remains unclear.

“The practical impacts of the arrangement are yet to be seen,” Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 Conference has every expectation that we will continue to compete at the highest levels and will be intimately and actively involved in the national athletics agenda.”

Continue reading story here

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August 24th

What does the Alliance mean? Stability and delaying playoff expansion

From the Daily Camera … The Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC on Tuesday formally unveiled their informal but highly-anticipated alliance with lofty goals  but few details.

Created in the aftermath of the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma — and with rumors swirling of additional realignment and poaching within the Power Five — the three conference commissioners “felt a responsibility to stabilize a volatile environment,” ACC boss Jim Phillips said.

The alliance is not legally binding in any form or fashion.

“There’s no signed contract,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said. “There’s an agreement among three gentlemen and a commitment from 41 presidents and chancellors and 41 athletic directors to do what we say we’re going to do.”

Nor did Tuesday’s development bring any specifics about non-conference matchups; rather, the leagues have committed to create enticing games in the future in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Per the joint statement:

“The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations. A working group comprised of athletic directors representing the three conferences will oversee the scheduling component of the alliance, including determining the criteria upon which scheduling decisions will be made. All three leagues and their respective institutions understand that scheduling decisions will be an evolutionary process given current scheduling commitments.”

The Pac-12 already has more than 100 football games scheduled against other Power Five teams across the next decade.)

The most immediate goal of the alliance, sources believe, is a commitment to delay the expansion of the College Football Playoff until the 2026 season, when the next TV contract cycle begins.

Continue reading story here

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**Press Release: Pac-12/Big Ten/ACC announce historic Alliance**

Press Release from the Pac-12

41 World-Class Institutions Across Three Autonomy 5 Conferences to Collaborate

on the Future Evolution of College Athletics and an Inter-Conference Scheduling Alliance

GREENSBORO, NC & ROSEMONT, IL & SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 today announced an historic alliance that will bring 41 world-class institutions together on a collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling.

The alliance – which was unanimously supported by the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors at all 41 institutions – will be guided in all cases by a commitment to, and prioritization of, supporting student-athlete well-being, academic and athletic opportunities, experiences and diverse educational programming. The three conferences are grounded in their support of broad-based athletic programs, the collegiate model and opportunities for student-athletes as part of the educational missions of the institutions.

The three conferences remain competitors in every sense but are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics, including:

  • Student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
  • Strong academic experience and support
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Gender equity
  • Future structure of the NCAA
  • Federal legislative efforts
  • Postseason championships and future formats

The alliance includes a scheduling component for football and women’s and men’s basketball designed to create new inter-conference games, enhance opportunities for student-athletes, and optimize the college athletics experience for both student-athletes and fans across the country. The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations. A working group comprised of athletic directors representing the three conferences will oversee the scheduling component of the alliance, including determining the criteria upon which scheduling decisions will be made. All three leagues and their respective institutions understand that scheduling decisions will be an evolutionary process given current scheduling commitments.

The football scheduling alliance will feature additional attractive matchups across the three conferences while continuing to honor historic rivalries and the best traditions of college football.

In women’s and men’s basketball, the three conferences will add early and mid-season games as well as annual events that feature premier matchups between the three leagues.

The three conferences will also explore opportunities for the vast and exceptional Olympic Sports programs to compete more frequently and forge additional attractive and meaningful rivalries.

The future scheduling component will benefit student-athletes and fans by offering new and memorable experiences that will extend coast-to-coast, across all time zones. The competition will bring a new level of excitement to the fans of the 41 schools while also allowing teams and conferences to have flexibility to continue to play opponents from other conferences, independents and various teams from other subdivisions.

“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”

“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 Conferences” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”

“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences include:

  • World-leading academic institutions committed to the shared values of supporting the next generation of leaders.
  • Innovative research that benefits communities around the world.
  • 27 of the 34 Autonomy 5 members in Association of American Universities (AAU).
  • 34 institutions ranked in the Top 100 national universities by US News & World Report.
  • Broad-based athletic and academic programs.
  • A long heritage of leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Over 27,000 student-athletes competing on 863 teams in 31 sports.
  • A combined 1,019 NCAA Championships.
  • Longstanding relationships across bowl partnerships, men’s and women’s basketball challenges and Olympic Sport events.
  • 194 Olympic medals won in Tokyo by current, former and future student-athletes.
  • Some of the most iconic and historic venues in college sports.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in direct annual institutional support of student-athlete scholarships.
  • Over $15 billion in annual federal research support, nearly one-third of the total across all colleges and universities.

Quotes from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 CEO chairs:

Duke University President & Chair of the ACC Board of Directors Vincent E. Price

“The alliance is first and foremost a statement about the vital connection of academic excellence to college athletics.  Our members include 41 of the top public and private universities in the world which will soon have new ways to compete at the very highest levels in sports, and to collaborate in education, research and service to society.  Together we will be able to use our strong voice and united vision to create the best possible experience for our student-athletes and institutions.”

University of Wisconsin Chancellor and Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) Chair Dr. Rebecca Blank:

“The Big Ten Conference has always prioritized academic excellence as well as athletic excellence for student-athletes. Today’s announcement reinforces the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness among all members of this alliance and provides additional opportunities for our student-athletes to enhance their collegiate experience.”

University of Oregon President & Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors Michael Schill

“The Pac-12 is thrilled to join with so many world-class universities in a collaborative effort to support our student-athletes through an unwavering commitment to excellence in academics and athletics.  Together we can help shape a future for college athletics where broad-based athletic programs in concert with educational opportunities allow us to support the next generation of leaders.”

Pac-12/ACC/Big Ten Alliance to be announced today at noon MT

… CU Athletic Director Rick George will be conducting a press conference at 1:00 p.m., MT. to discuss the Alliance … Stay tuned! … 

From CBS Sports … The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are expected to formally announce their long-awaited alliance on Tuesday afternoon, sources close to the situation tell CBS Sports. The agreement between the three conferences will focus on NCAA governance and college football scheduling, but the leagues also plan to get on the same page regarding future College Football Playoff expansion.

Realignment among the three conferences has not been part of their discussions and will not be an issue addressed with the alliance. However, a significant portion of alliance conversations have been based on ensuring that athletes’ academic success remains integral to the college sports experience.

“Some of things we’ve been doing to ourselves, that just needs to stop,” said one high-profile official from a school within the would-be alliance. “Some of this shit, we’re talking about expanding to 12 [teams]. For two teams that [go all the way], that’s 17 games. We’re going to talk about ‘these kids aren’t professionals’ and we don’t pay them? I firmly believe in the academic value of what we’re doing, but at a certain point, it looks like professionals. … I firmly believe in the academic piece that we’re providing.”

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 have actively been engaged in discussions about forming a scheduling alliance for at least two weeks. The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach first reported that an announcement would come Tuesday.

Why is the alliance necessary?

The alliance became a priority for the three Power Five conferences after Texas and Oklahoma moved to the SEC from the Big 12. Talks between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 have been described to CBS Sports as a “non-aggression pact” against the SEC after the Big 12 was destabilized following the losses of the Longhorns and Sooners. That power grab tipped the scales toward the SEC in future college athletics dealings.

College athletics as a whole remains wary of the SEC and ESPN dominating … everything. Big 12 revenues will decline by at least 50% with the losses of Texas and Oklahoma. It would serve ESPN well financially if the Big 12 were to fade away as that would be one less set of TV rights to pay out.

Even with the alliance, the SEC will likely maintain its advantage as the conference with the most best teams.

Continue reading story here

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August 22nd

The “Big Paclantic” – Alliance Rumors Q&A: Where will the chips fall?

From The Athletic … On Friday, The Athletic reported that the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC will be officially announcing an alliance, as soon as next week. The specifics about what “an alliance” entails have yet to be revealed, but Nicole Auerbach reports that it extends beyond scheduling, as these schools align on academics, Olympic sports and much more.

Of course, Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC is the jumping-off point for all these discussions. It’s been a wild offseason for college football. As the wheels keep turning and the dominoes fall, Auerbach and Stewart Mandel took your questions in a Live Q&A. Here are some thoughts, some answers, and, perhaps, some more questions to the questions you asked about the next phase of realignment.

Will the ACC anger its network — ESPN — by aligning with two Fox conferences? Will CBS or NBC be interested in bidding on expanded Playoff games? — Ron E.

Stewart Mandel: It’s definitely interested that they’re getting involved in what for the Big Ten and Pac-12 is a pushback against ESPN’s increasing dominance over the sport. But the ACC also has a strong incentive to get ESPN to redo their contract that they locked themselves into for 20 years. Perhaps they think the scheduling alliance would be cause to come back and say it’s increased in value.

Nicole Auerbach: To piggyback off of Stew’s answer, I asked an AD in the ACC about whether or not this would be a significant enough move to get ESPN to renegotiate that long-term deal, and the AD didn’t think so. But it’s definitely an interesting wrinkle. What happens if ESPN puts some pressure on the ACC to support an expanded Playoff sooner than 2026 — would the ACC do it?

Does the Alliance only really work if each conference has an equal amount of members? Would that push the Pac-12 to expand to 14 to match the B1G and the ACC (minus the Notre Dame component)? — Jacob W.

Auerbach: It depends how philosophical this is vs. how tangible its goals are. It’s essentially about the future of college sports and prioritizing certain aspects of it as the NCAA flounders in the wind. When you bring in literal scheduling matchups and the like, maybe numbers come into play a little more. But I think they’re all close enough in size and stature that the idea of working as a bloc feels pretty even, as long as people are aligned enough on the major topics. It’s still a way to consolidate power amid a time of uncertainty, regardless of a perfectly even split of membership.

Do you expect the B1G/ACC/Pac-12 to push for an eight team rather than 12-team Playoff? It gives them guaranteed access (which 4 doesn’t) without it becoming too SEC heavy (which 12 might). — Eric A.

Mandel: There was pretty universal support for 12 teams when the model was first proposed. You would hope that doesn’t change solely out of spite for Greg Sankey. Now, with the Big 12’s reduced relevance, does it become 5 automatic bids instead of 6? Do they revisit the idea of quarterfinals having to be at bowl games? All that’s still up for discussion, along with, most importantly, whether to try to start it before the contract is up.

Auerbach: Stew makes a really interesting point about the Big 12’s place in all of this. If that league loses its standing, do they stick with the six highest-ranked conference champions or cut one/change the auto-bid format? I think that would have to be on the table. Though there was general support for the 12-team format earlier this summer, we’ve also heard some prominent coaches (Dabo Swinney, Mack Brown) criticize it. I think there are prominent administrators within the Alliance conferences who would prefer a look at six- or eight-team models if this whole process is going back to the starting line. (Which it may not.)

Is the B1G, Pac-12, ACC Alliance going to have a formal name? We have to get something less wordy eventually, right? — John M.

Mandel: The best suggestion I’ve seen on Twitter is Big Paclantic.

Read full story here

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August 20th

Breaking down Alliance options/advantages 

From ESPN … The SEC’s additions of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 sent shock waves around the sport, and sparked plenty of theories about what would come next.

Would there be full-blown realignment? Which teams and leagues could be poached? How would the moves impact the next round of media rights negotiations? The Texas/OU addition undoubtedly strengthened the SEC and weakened the Big 12, but what would the other three Power 5 leagues do in response?

Some clues emerged Aug. 13, as The Athletic first reported and ESPN confirmed that the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have been discussing an alliance around key topics in the sport. While the long-term implications could be immense, the immediate concerns appear to be about finding common ground in an emerging power battle between the SEC and everyone else.

… Sources said all three leagues began exploring options for a countermove to the SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma last month, which led to a formal committee to analyze an alliance that includes the commissioners from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, along with several ADs from each league. Members of that committee are expected to hold a phone call in the coming days to determine the specific language of a formal announcement, according to multiple administrators with direct knowledge of the talks.

Presidents and athletic directors from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, along with the league commissioners, have been in discussions for several weeks on “philosophical issues” of alignment. ESPN spoke to sources in and around the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 to find out more about the alliance, answer key questions and forecast what could unfold over the coming weeks and months.

The rationale is two-pronged, and would address both practical areas such as scheduling and larger, philosophical ones. Sources in the three leagues view an alliance as an alternative to expansion. They would work together rather than potentially hurt one another by poaching members.

Although the SEC’s moves sparked and accelerated conversations about an alliance, the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 also recognize there are many major changes in the sport, especially related to NCAA governance and whether a governing body will even exist in the near future.

“All this banter and talk about the new NCAA structure and governance, having 41 institutions that have similar values would be really important,” a veteran athletic director in one of the leagues said.

Added a source familiar with the alliance talks: “It allows for the focusing of points of view to the end that there may be more effectiveness for the 41, to the extent that they share a vision of what college sports should be.”

There also are commonalities among the three leagues. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are longtime partners around the Rose Bowl, while the ACC and Big Ten have held a basketball challenge since 1999. The institutions are also quite similar: 27 are members of the Association of American Universities, a group of leading research schools. Several non-AAU members, such as Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Boston College, are top-40 universities, according to US News’ rankings of best national universities.

While the ACC shares geography and some natural rivalries with the SEC, the league as a whole is more similar to the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

“Structure among similarly situated institutions makes some sense where the NCAA is shaky and where the SEC’s been aggressive,” one source said. “This is a pretty sensible way of proceeding. What’s the downside?”

At this point, numerous sources have said there is no financial component to the alliance, but the political portion is important. With the NCAA’s role in oversight all but evaporated, there’s a serious power vacuum in the sport, and the three newer commissioners — the ACC’s Jim Phillips, the Big Ten’s Kevin Warren and the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff — don’t want to cede the entirety of that ground to Greg Sankey and the SEC. This is their way of pushing back.

What would be the focus of the alliance?

Football scheduling certainly would be part. Adding attractive nonleague games will help in multiple ways, especially for the Big Ten and Pac-12, who have media rights agreements expiring in 2023 and 2024. Marquee schedule additions also could help teams in an expanded playoff system. But there’s only so much flexibility since schedules are made so far in advance. While a few more games likely will be added between the leagues, dramatic changes are unlikely, and existing matchups against the SEC (Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Louisville-Kentucky) and even the Big 12 (Iowa-Iowa State) are unlikely to change. “It’s not a boycott,” one administrator said.

The most immediate issue to be addressed, however, is the expansion of the College Football Playoff, with the 12-team plan designed in large part by Sankey and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick up for a vote in September. Nearly every source ESPN spoke with on the issues said there is now significant trepidation about moving forward and that, while the plan could ultimately still pass, there’s a desire to “tap the brakes” and better understand how the plan would impact leagues in the aftermath of Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC.

Continue reading story here

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Report: Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC expected to announce an alliance next week

From The Athletic … The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are expected to make a formal announcement about their alignment soon, perhaps as early as next week, multiple sources told The Athletic. It’s not yet clear how specific the announcement will be because there are so many details to iron out, although administrators in all three leagues have stressed in recent conversations that issues of governance can and should be front and center.

Schools within the three conferences believe they are like-minded, that they want to continue to prioritize broad-based sports offerings and that the academic profile of their institutions matters — as does graduating athletes. For example, Big Ten schools sponsor an average of 24.8 sports per campus, with the ACC (23.8) and Pac-12 (22.9) not far behind. SEC schools offer an average of 19.9 sports.

Why these three conferences?

Nicole Auerbach, college football senior writer: As much fun as it is to theorize about future nonconference games between Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon, that isn’t necessarily all a potential Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC alliance is about.

The Alliance — which really needs to be the official name of this, with capitalization, please — goes far beyond the concepts of scheduling and television inventory.

There are many administrators in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC who believe in the collegiate model and want it to continue; even those who have enthusiastically embraced name, image and likeness reform don’t want to see college football become an actual minor league system for the NFL with a draft, player salaries and the like. They worry that the SEC’s aggression could lead to something like that.

So, where does that leave the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC and their schools? That’s the (multi-)million-dollar question.

Continue reading story here

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August 18th

Pac-12 Stock Report: Alliance options improving

From the San Jose Mercury News … A few weeks ago, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff met with his counterpart in the Big 12 to discuss a potential partnership and the state of affairs in major college sports.

Then came reports of Kliavkoff meeting with the commissioners of the ACC and Big Ten about a possible alliance.

Add those to whatever discussions with college sports stakeholders have not been made public, and Kliavkoff is staying true to his commitment to consider any and all options.

But will anything come of these conversations?

The Hotline has yet to discover a prosperous path with the remaining teams in the Big 12, but there are two apparent options with the ACC and Big Ten.

It might be easier to consider them in buckets:

— The cash bucket.

The challenge for Kliavkoff is to find ways to increase the value of the Pac-12 media rights without increasing the size of the conference, since no obvious expansion options exist.

A scheduling alliance featuring annual cross-conference matchups — perhaps with a flex component to create the best matchups based on preseason rankings — could potentially be attractive to one of the major networks.

But this piece is potentially complicated by media contracts: Fox currently owns the rights to Big Ten and Pac-12 football inventory but not to the ACC, which is wholly tied to ESPN into the 2030s.

— The voting bucket.

In our opinion, this is the most significant component to any tripartite alliance, at least in the near term.

There is growing concern within the sport that power is consolidating around the SEC and, by extension, ESPN.

Continue reading story here

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August 13th

Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC in talks about an alliance to offset SEC power

From The Athletic … The Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC are engaging in high-level discussions about an alliance, sources tell The Athletic.

Talks have centered around not just a scheduling alliance in football but in broader cooperation, according to sources in the three conferences. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and ACC commissioner Jim Phillips have been having conversations for several weeks.

“I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all of the other A5 commissioners the last few weeks about the complex issues that are facing the industry,” Kliavkoff said, adding that there’s “nothing to report on this specific matter at this time.”

How will an alliance work?

Max Olson, staff writer: While the specifics on how a scheduling pact might work remain unclear, sources in the three conferences suggest the larger goal is alignment so that the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC can work and vote together on major issues such as College Football Playoff expansion and upcoming NCAA governance changes.

“This is their shot right back at the SEC,” one athletic director said.

All three leagues and their relatively new commissioners are feeling some pressure to respond to the SEC’s aggression after the conference added Texas and Oklahoma as new members starting in 2025. None of the three have expressed serious interest in raiding what’s left of the Big 12, so working together is a logical next step and appears to be the likely outcome.

There are differing beliefs among sources in the three conferences as to how imminently this alliance could be finalized and formally announced. Kliavkoff and Warren were together this week in California for Rose Bowl-related meetings.

Continue reading story here

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August 9th

Pac-12 & Big 12 playing the long game on realignment: “It’s a marathon right now, not a sprint”

From The Athletic … Pac-12 sources were quick to frame the Bowlsby meeting as a very preliminary, get-to-know-you type of visit. But for their conference, it made sense to take the meeting. Sources believe they’re in a good position, no moves are imminent and they need not rush to make any. Like Bowlsby, Kliavkoff is serious about putting all his options on the table and seeing what fits best for his membership and the future of the Pac-12.

Closing the revenue gap relative to the SEC and the Big Ten is important in the long run, no question. But the Pac-12 also needs to make sure USC stays satisfied, sources said, so that the conference doesn’t become at risk of losing its anchor the way the Big 12 just did.

There’s at least some thinking among decision-makers in the Pac-12 that they don’t need to expand and could even be better served trying to form a strategic alliance with the Big Ten and ACC. It’s unclear what form that sort of arrangement would take, but this is the kind of big-picture thinking that is suddenly required in light of the SEC’s big move.

Kliavkoff has received plenty of praise early in his tenure for being exactly the kind of aggressive, dynamic, forward-thinking leader the Pac-12 needs in these unpredictable times. It’ll be fascinating to see what path he prefers for this league to solve its problems, how he galvanizes support and how he makes use of his considerable leverage.

Ultimately, the financial implications of each choice are going to drive the outcome, and those are largely unknown right now. If aligning with the Big 12 does end up gaining traction, does the Pac-12 really want to share revenue with that many schools? Does growing the conference beyond its current footprint generate meaningful value? The Pac-12 is certainly not alone in pondering those questions as well as what choices their TV partners would make worthwhile.

“I think this fall, the other leagues are going to be having many more in-depth conversations,” one Big 12 AD said. “The fall meetings will start shedding some light on what different conferences want to do.”

As many sources have stressed, it would be naïve to believe Texas, Oklahoma and the SEC only spent a couple of months putting their plan together. The Big 12 and Pac-12 have an opportunity to make massively important decisions that potentially redefine their conferences. These deals don’t happen quickly. Patience is required, as hard as that will be in the Big 12.

“I do think a lot of this information is going to get a little quiet, which will put a lot of people in a very anxious spot, especially our boards and fan bases,” the Big 12 AD said. “Once football starts, I just don’t think this is like the other realignments where it’s going to move fast. And that’s going to get people very, very anxious.

“That’s probably what Oklahoma and Texas want. They want people to get anxious and start doing some crazy things, because that’s more advantageous to them. I don’t think they want to stay in this marriage until 2025. If that’s what it’s going to take, I think it’s up to the eight remaining to play that long game. We’re in a marathon right now, not a sprint.”

Continue reading story here

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August 7th

Wilner: With Kliavkoff in charge, Pac-12 solidarity stronger than it has been in years

From the San Jose Mercury News … If the Pac-12 dissolved, the California schools, Oregon and Washington would be desirable in a post-modern configuration of major college football; everyone else would need a lifeline. Oregon State and Arizona would seem particularly vulnerable, in our opinion, based on the metrics that drive media value.

But the Pac-12 is a long way from that point.

We cannot offer any guarantees, but there is zero indication of an imminent breakup.

If anything, the level of solidarity seems stronger now than it has in years, largely because the schools (i.e., the presidents and chancellors) are all-in with new commissioner George Kliavkoff and view this as a reset opportunity for the collective — a chance to rethink, and reshape, major college sports on the West Coast.

(Had Larry Scott remained in charge, the level of solidarity would have been lower and the potential for breakup higher.)

From this corner of the galaxy, there are seemingly two paths to Pac-12 dissolution — to the Cougars, Beavers and Wildcats fighting for their football existence:

1. The Pac-12 dissolves.

The most immediate existential threat to the conference would be an aggressive Big Ten desperate to grow following the SEC’s move.

But we’re deeply skeptical for a slew of reasons — none greater than this: The conferences have a shared history on the field (via the Rose Bowl) and deep alignment at the university level, both professionally and personally.

Ohio State president Kristina Johnson is a Stanford alum.

Michigan president Mark Schissel is a former Cal dean.

Northwestern president Morton Schapiro is a former USC dean.

Would the Big Ten presidents approve any expansion plan that kills off the Pac-12? In our view, that outcome seems unlikely.

… 2. The Power Five dissolves.

If you’re sketching scenarios for Pac-12 destruction, this is the more reasonable scenario — and yet it seems unlikely to materialize anytime soon.

What’s the structure? Simple: The most successful, most valuable, most committed football schools form a 30- or 35-team super-league that’s essentially a mini-NFL — and would, thanks to overjoyed media companies, mint money.

The remaining 30-35 schools in the Power Five, combined with the other 60-odd schools in the FBS, would continue playing football, albeit with a cost structure resembling what we now see in the FCS. (Revenue would plunge, so expenses would have to drop, as well.)

Would the likes of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington be willing to join the equivalent of a college football Premiership?

Perhaps, because every Power Five league would break apart, too.

The ACC’s Wake Forest, Duke and Virginia (and many others) wouldn’t be involved in the super-league.

Nor would the Big Ten’s Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois.

Heck, even the SEC would split up, to some degree.

In this end-game, the top West Coast football schools aren’t leaving the Pac-12 for membership in another conference.

Continue reading story here

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August 6th

Sporting News: Should the Big Ten explore an “AAU Pac-12 Combo”?

From The Sporting News … When asked about Oklahoma and Texas’ pending move to the SEC, Ohio State coach Ryan Day offered a glimpse into what Big Ten football fans might see in the future.

“We may wake up in five years and not recognize college football,” Day said at Big Ten Media Days. “There’s so many giant things going on right now.”

The transfer portal, NIL and playoff expansion are all part of the puzzle, but the Sooners and Longhorns launched what is coming next.

Realignment. Super conferences. New television deals, and the Big Ten cannot afford to wait five years to see what that end result will be. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is entering his 23rd season as head coach. He offered simple advice.

“Never say never to anything right now in college football or whatever’s going to happen in the future,” Ferentz said.

Will the Big Ten expand? If so, how will they expand? ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reports the shopping list would likely only include schools Association of American Universities membership. These are the leading academic institutions in the United States and Canada, and 64 are in the United States.

Nebraska is the only Big Ten school that is not a AAU member. AAU members in the SEC include Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.  Knowing that, it makes it a little easier to figure out the Big Ten’s true expansion options moving forward:

A Pac-12 combo 

AAU schools: Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington

The Big Ten becomes a coast-to-coast league rooted in that Rose Bowl relationship with the Big Ten and Pac-12. It’s just a matter of how many schools should come.

Would the Big Ten absorb all nine and grab Iowa State or Kansas and become a 24-school league with two 12-team divisions? This would put the conference in every time zone. New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and Warren would hit a home run here with the first true superconference, and FOX would certainly be on board given the vested interest in both leagues.

That would split rivalries with Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State, who would likely be left to cobble something together with the Big 12 leftovers. But if superconferences happen, a lot of feelings are going to get hurt.

This is the boldest plan of all. If Notre Dame can’t be swayed, the Big Ten should look to do this for a true superconference.

Sit back and wait

The Big Ten could simply hold serve and do nothing.

Oklahoma and Texas were the biggest pieces in realignment hypotheticals for years, and the Big Ten missed an opportunity there even though Oklahoma is not an AAU member.

Now, Warren and the conference have to get the next move right. Maryland and Rutgers made sense from a financial standpoint, but from a competitive standpoint in football it wasn’t the best move. The Terps are 30-49 (.380) since joining the conference. The Scarlet Knights are 24-58 (.293).

Instead of chasing teams, the Big Ten can wait and see what happens next. The danger is falling way behind the SEC while watching a Pac-12/Big 12 merger of sorts and Notre Dame finally agreeing to join the ACC. Warren would get hammered for that, especially if Clemson, Florida State and Miami go to the SEC.

Five years from now, the Big Ten wants to be in the best position possible with all those giant changes that are coming.

It’s better for the Big Ten to be proactive than reactive.

They can’t afford to never say never to anything for the next five years.

Read full story here

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August 4th

WSU President: SEC move has unified other conferences: “People are concerned about the predatory nature of the SEC”

From the San Jose Mercury News … One of the Pac-12’s most influential presidents on Tuesday took a measured approach to expanding the conference, noting that “institutional fit” and “closing the revenue gap” would be key to evaluating potential new members.

“If we add teams just to try to keep up with somebody else but those teams don’t grow our revenue base, do we really need to add them?’’ said Washington State’s Kirk Schulz, one of three presidents on the Pac-12 CEO Group’s agenda-driving executive committee.

But Schulz, who also represents the Pac-12 on the College Football Playoff’s powerful Board of Managers, was anything but reserved in his assessment of the SEC’s decision to add Texas and Oklahoma.

“What the SEC has done is unify the other conferences in a way that nothing else could have, in terms of working together,” Schulz told the Hotline.

“A lot of people now are very concerned about the predatory nature of the SEC. More presidents are talking. There’s a lot of back and forth.”

The SEC declined to comment on Schulz’s remark.

(Texas president Jay Hartzell said during a state senate hearing earlier this week that the school reached out to the SEC but considered joining other conferences, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)

Schulz is uniquely qualified to assess the Pac-12’s strategic position against the backdrop of realignment.

In addition to his role on the conference’s executive committee and the CFP board, he was a university president in the Big 12 (Kansas State) during the expansion cycle a decade ago, when the conference lost Colorado to the Pac-12, Nebraska to the Big Ten and Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC.

Continue reading story here

Kliavkoff: “When you’re in our conference, you have a golden ticket. People don’t give up golden tickets”

From CBS SportsThe Big Ten doesn’t have to make a move. Remember the value of Ohio State and Michigan. The league’s footprint already contains a quarter of the United States population. Plus, the Big Ten is seemingly in line for a significant TV revenue bump when its current contract with ESPN and Fox expires in 2023. Former commissioner Jim Delany was wise enough to sign only a six-year deal in 2017 so his conference could get to the open market ahead of the Big 12 and Pac-12. Any speculation about adding Pac-12 schools to the Big Ten starts with those additions bringing at least $60 million worth of annual value to the Big Ten contract. (That’s assuming even a conservative increase in the Big Ten’s current deal in 2023.)

What once looked like a lucrative media rights contract negotiated by former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott now looks outdated. The Pac-12 Network never reached its expected distribution levels. Conference schools make $32 million annually in media rights revenue. That’s $22 million less than Big Ten schools and approximately $28 million less than SEC schools will make when their new deal commences in 2024. Oklahoma and Texas will likely make equal shares as it’s unknown whether ESPN would be open to renegotiating the deal.

It’s safe to say the Pac-12 can’t wait until the end of its current media rights deal in 2024 to make a move. The collection of West Coast schools still has value because of their “hegemony,” according to a veteran of media rights negotiations. The combination of the Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver and Seattle TV markets is significant. That source added that there was no value in any current Power Five conference “stretching” across the country to get Pac-12 schools.

“When you’re in our conference, you have a golden ticket,” Kliavkoff said. “People don’t give up golden tickets.

“If that decision [to leave] is made, it’s for short-term financial gain, which by the way, I think would be a long-term financial loss. It would be made giving up everything else our conference brings.”

That’s good news for those speculating about a Big Ten reach to the West Coast. However, there is a combination of four Pac-12 schools out there (including USC) that would be a good academic and athletic fit for the Big Ten.

Continue reading story here

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August 3rd

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff to meet with Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby: “All options are on the table”

From The Athletic … Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is scheduled to meet with new Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff on Tuesday, multiple sources told The Athletic.

Their meeting is expected to be a key first step in talks about whether the two conferences would benefit from strategically working together during college sports’ new phase of realignment.

Kliavkoff was unavailable for comment. Bowlsby and the Big 12 declined comment.

Discussions on a pact between the two could go in several different directions. One option would be a scheduling alliance between Big 12 and Pac-12 members. Bowlsby acknowledged this possibility on Monday during his appearance at a Texas Senate committee meeting on the future of college sports in Texas. Pursuing a merger with another conference is another possibility.

“I think there are options for us to partner with other conferences,” Bowlsby said Monday. “There may be opportunity for mergers. There may be opportunities to add members. There may be other opportunities that are currently unforeseen.”

One other possible solution Bowlsby floated while appearing for the committee in Austin on Monday would be the Big 12 working with another conference to aggregate their negotiating rights for the next TV deal.

“At this point, all options are on the table and nothing is a bad option,” one Big 12 source said. “We have to explore everything now. It’s not that we’re in panic mode, but let’s keep talking and keep finding out what’s out there.”

Another Big 12 source expects the Bowlsby-Kliavkoff meeting to be more of an “information download” for the Pac-12’s new commissioner to gain a better sense of what the Big 12’s eight remaining members can bring to the table.

“Time is our friend right now, so it’s not like something has to happen by Sept. 1,” the source said. “It’s a matter of starting to work through this and see what it looks like. We’ve got a runway.”

Continue reading story here

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August 2nd 

CBS: Options for remaining Big 12 teams including two for the Pac-12

From CBS Sports … College football fans everywhere are now fully immersed in the drama involving Texas and Oklahoma’s flirtation with the SEC as the two power programs have declared their intention to leave the Big 12 Conference. New first broke of the potential move during SEC Media Days, and now the possibility of the Sooners and Longhorns becoming full-fledged members of the SEC is inching closer to reality.

So where does this leave the Big 12? The conference lost Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-12 as well as Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC during the last realignment phase roughly 10 years ago. It made up for those losses by adding TCU and West Virginia, which kept the ship afloat for the remainder of the decade.

Now that the ship is sinking, though, where can the other eight schools land? Of course, it’s possible for the Big 12 to add some teams to try to stay attractive to television partners. But in a new era of college football that includes six automatic College Football Playoff bids for conference champions, no matter their previous conference, it’s safe to say that the the Big 12 could fall way behind in an era that will place less relevance on Power Five/Group of Five status.

Here are some potential landing spots for the remaining eight schools assuming that the Big 12 collapses.

Oklahoma State: Pac-12

The Cowboys are going to be very desirable and will certainly be courted by the AAC. But as the most prominent of the remaining eight programs, they’d be best served to call first-year Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff. The Pac-12 was widely regarded as the worst of the Power Five conferences prior to the news that Texas and Oklahoma could bail on the Big 12. Luring the Cowboys to play the teams out West would go a long way toward changing that. Plus, for Oklahoma State, it’d be a great way to expand the recruiting net and, at least in theory, have an easier path to the College Football Playoff now that it’d be out of Oklahoma’s shadow.

TCU: Pac-12

The AAC would undoubtedly make call after call after call to TCU in an attempt to lure the Horned Frogs into a conference that already has a foothold in the state of Texas. But it’s a big enough brand to be attractive to the Pac-12’s television partners and has had enough success in football in recent years to be a legitimate threat to win the conference on a year-in, year-out basis. The Pac-10 nearly became the Pac-16 during the last realignment phase but settled on becoming the Pac-12. If it poaches three or four teams from the soon-to-be defunct Big 12, TCU absolutely should be one of them.

Read full story here

SEC could be distributing $1.3 BILLION annually in five years

From on3.com … Fast forward five years. The expanded 12-team College Football Playoff is off and running, Texas and Oklahoma are fully entrenched in the SEC and the 16-team conference is generating between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion annually.

Also imagine perhaps the rosiest 2026 scenario for the Big 12. After losing its two flagship schools, commissioner Bob Bowlsby stabilizes the league by adding Cincinnati and UCF and securing a media rights deal in 2025 that is relatively equal to the current one that expires that year. What’s the Big 12’s projected revenue under those conditions?

It’s $509 million — not even half that of the SEC.

The comparison puts a finer point on the remarkable unfolding machinations in the sport. The juiced-up SEC will continue to pull away on the financial front from almost every other Power 5 conference. And even in what many deem the most optimistic scenario for the diminished Big 12 — adding two American Athletic Conference schools and avoiding a plummeting media rights deal — the 10-team league would generate less than half the revenue of the SEC, which will be the most robust league in college sports’ history. (Here is a look at all the current conference TV deals.)

As conferences plot potential moves in response to the SEC’s coup, the landscape reveals a dearth of options that would yield significantly added value for Power 5 leagues. If Notre Dame football remains independent — and there’s no indication otherwise — there are only so many blue-blooded brand names to go around, and a lot will be in the SEC.

“How do you replace Texas and Oklahoma? I guess you could replace them with Georgia and Alabama,” Neal Pilson, CBS Sports president in the 1980s and ’90s, told On3. “But they are not going. Would Central Florida or Cincinnati or even Houston create significant increased value for the Big 12? Probably not.”

Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm specializing in college and professional sports rights valuations, provided the revenue projections to On3 on the SEC and Big 12 (assuming the Big 12 survives). A caveat: The SEC’s new media rights deal with ESPN will pay the league $300 million annually beginning in 2024, but it almost certainly will be amended. And Navigate projects that a 12-team CFP could be valued at $2 billion annually, a figure reported by USA Today in June; it is unclear how the CFP would disperse baseline revenue shares to conferences. And it’s unknown how many schools from a particular conference would qualify for the CFP in a given season, which would affect additional revenue dispersed.

While stakeholders had been fast-tracking the process toward tripling the number of CFP teams, there are indications the process may turn more deliberate. New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports the movement toward 12 teams needs to “pause.” The other important note is that while the SEC’s revenue pie unquestionably will grow post-expansion — recent tax filings for the 2019-20 fiscal year show the league generated $729 million in revenue — it will slice up that pie to distribute shares to more schools.

Continue reading story here

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August 1st

Is the future of the Pac-12 in the hands of USC?

From USCFootball.com … The SEC is on the brink of expanding from 14 teams to 16 after its presidents and chancellors extended invitations to the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma on Thursday. In doing so, the SEC will add two of college football’s most storied programs and biggest brands, thereby making the league the clear-cut top conference in the sport.

With the SEC making such a power move, there has been speculation about other possible changes to existing conferences. One of the schools that is getting a lot of attention is USC.

The Trojans play in the Pac-12, one of college football’s weakest conferences. During Friday’s edition of CBS Sports HQ, college football insider Dennis Dodd broke down all of USC’s current options.

“The other name that’s out there is USC,” Dodd said. “It’s the best available brand name if you consider Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame aren’t going anywhere. I think the Pac-12 and really all of college athletics needs an answer out of USC. Do you go independent? Do you stay with the Pac-12? Do you break off and do something with the Big Ten? All of those options are on the table for USC. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of that happened. But I think we need a declarative statement out of the Trojans pretty soon.”

During Friday’s edition of The Paul Finebaum Show, college football expert Kirk Herbstreit joined the program to explain what he thinks expansion will mean for the SEC.

“Well, I guess my reaction if you’re looking at it through the lens of an SEC fan this is obviously a historic day,” Herbstreit said. “Whether you agree or disagree, objectively speaking, bringing in those brands, Texas and Oklahoma into the SEC which was already the premier conference in college football and you add those two brands — I mean its, you know I’m a traditionalist, so I hate to see some of this fragmented and the way it has become in college sports. But if you just look at it, what does this mean for the SEC?

“Start thinking about games like Oklahoma against Georgia, which we had a great Rose Bowl a few years ago. Oklahoma against Florida, Texas against Florida, Texas against LSU — just so many potentially huge games in this conference. I mean, it’s historic. We’ll be talking about this for 40, 50, 60, 70 years, how big a deal this is. So from that lens, congratulations to Greg Sankey and the SEC. And this is like Popeye eating spinach, I mean this is a huge day, the SEC was already the strongest and it gets stronger by adding those two brands in.”

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July 31st 

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Athlon takes a shot at designing Power Five with 16 teams each

… For CU, the below division set up would be a dream come true. First, because the Buffs remain in the Power Five (not really an issue right now, but, if the “Super Conferences” drop to 32 members, it’s hard to see CU making the cut. Second, because having games in California and Texas every year would help to maintain CU’s recruiting base, as, other than from the state of Colorado, the vast majority of Buff recruits come from Texas and California … 

From Athlon Sports … The SEC’s decision to add Oklahoma and Texas has sparked another round of realignment, expansion and the potential for college football super conferences. With the first 16-team Power 5 league coming in the next few years and rumors about expansion in other leagues, that era may not be far away. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are all likely evaluating options in the wake of the SEC’s move to 16.

The recent expansion and super conferences discussion got us at Athlon Sports thinking: What if every college football conference was a super conference? We need to stress this is strictly for fun.

The parameters were pretty simple: Make as many 16-team super conferences as possible using the current structure of college football and 130 teams. To get all 130 teams accounted for, we had to bend the rules to have one conference at 18 teams. We attempted to maintain the basic structure of the current conferences and use some shuffling in the leagues to consolidate everything into super conferences.

The Pac-12 … 

NorthSouth
Boise StateArizona
BYUArizona State
CaliforniaColorado
OregonOklahoma State
Oregon StateTexas Tech
StanfordUCLA
WashingtonUSC
Washington StateUtah

Analysis: Geography was a driving force in many of our league decisions, but we had to bend the rules a bit here to get Oklahoma State and Texas Tech into the Pac-16. Boise State and BYU are strong additions to the North Division. The Cougars are a better fit for the South Division, but the conference will mandate a crossover game against Utah to make sure these two programs play every year.

Read full story here

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July 30th

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Texas and Oklahoma Regents make it official: Leaving for SEC (in 2025)

From CBS Sports … Just nine days after word leaked that Texas and Oklahoma were in talks regarding a landscape-changing move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, the seismic shift is officially complete. Following Thursday’s unanimous vote by the SEC’s chancellors and presidents to invite the schools for membership starting in 2025, the Texas Board of Regents and Oklahoma Board of Regents met Friday, where both schools officially approved the move by accepting the invitations.

“Today’s action by the Board of Regents is in the best interests of UT student athletes, the UT Austin athletics program overall, and the university,” University of Texas system chancellor James Milliken said in a statement. “This move ensures a strong future for an outstanding athletics program, providing the opportunity for our student athletes to compete at the highest levels.”

The fallout within college sports is expected to be far-reaching as the Big 12 will be left without the two flagship schools of its (now formerly) 10-member conference. With Texas and Oklahoma departing, the conference’s members face a choice of whether to stay together and rebuild or disband and strike out on their own to seek alternatives.

“After thorough consideration and study, it became obvious that standing pat would mean falling behind,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said.

While Texas and Oklahoma have stated their intent to remain in the Big 12 until its current grant of rights expires in 2025, their moves to the SEC could be expedited if the Big 12 dissolves or if the schools are willing to pay hefty exit fees.

Ramifications loom for the potential expansion of the College Football Playoff, as well. Proposals for a move to a 12-team CFP by as early as the 2023 season hinged on the previous conference structure, and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd this week that CFP expansion is “certainly going to be readdressed” in light of conference realignment.

The SEC, meanwhile, has solidified its standing as the top conference in college sports. The league has now grown to include 16 total members, including 11 of the top 17 revenue-generating universities in the NCAA, per USA Today‘s most-recent database of athletic department finances. The league officially announced the addition of the two schools Friday with a statement touting the academic and athletic success of each university.

“This is an important moment for the long-term future of the Southeastern Conference and our member universities,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in the statement. “Oklahoma and Texas are outstanding academic institutions with two strong athletics programs, which will add to the SEC’s national prominence. Their additions will further enhance the already rich academic, athletic and cultural legacies that have been cultivated throughout the years by our existing 14 members. We look forward to the Sooners and Longhorns competing in our Conference starting in the 2025-26 academic year.”

Continue reading story here

Big 12 believes American Conference is actively attempting to take in all of the “Irate Eight”

From CBS Sports … The Big 12 is concerned that the American Athletic Conference (AAC) is actively attempting to assume all eight remaining league members once Texas and Oklahoma are formally accepted into the SEC, league sources tell CBS Sports. This comes as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN is leading an attempt to restructure college sports.

“I’m absolutely certain [ESPN was] involved in it with the [American] trying to poach our members,” Bowlsby told CBS Sports.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

ESPN provided the following statement Wednesday night in reference to Bowlsby’s letter: “The claims in the letter have no merit.” Burke Magnus, ESPN president of programming and original content, further responded to the letter on Thursday.

“The accusations you have made are entirely without merit,” Magnus wrote. “Apart from a single vague allegation that ESPN has been ‘actively engaged in discussions with at least one other’ unnamed conference, which ESPN disputes, your letter consists entirely of unsubstantiated speculation and legal conclusions. To be clear, ESPN has engaged in no wrongful conduct and, thus, there is nothing to ‘cease and desist. We trust this will put the matter to rest.”

The Big 12 has clearly taken a fight-to-the-death stance as the two most powerful members of its league are mere steps from joining the nation’s most powerful conference.

In fact, the Big 12’s bylaws are written in such a way that — if there is even one member remaining — a program can individually sue any of the entities in this discussion — the SEC, the AAC or even ESPN.

Leaning on the “disinterested directors” clause in its bylaws, the Big 12 intends to make the migration of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC as difficult as possible.

After losing four teams in the last round of conference realignment a decade ago, those bylaws were drafted in 2012 to stand for a period of 99 years. Texas and Oklahoma were part of the group who, according to one source, wanted the longest agreement possible.

That last round of realignment led to the Big 12 registering itself as a corporation in the state of Delaware. That helps prevent the case from being heard in Texas where the University of Texas might have a legal advantage.

“Oklahoma and Texas are going to do everything they can to get out of the grant of rights and get out of the bylaw stipulations. It’s going to be a long process,” Bowlsby told CBS Sports.

Continue reading story here

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July 28th

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Big 12 commissioner sends “cease and desist” letter to ESPN

From CBS Sports … Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby alleges conference media rights partner ESPN conspired to damage the league by luring Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC as detailed in a cease and desist letter sent to the network on Wednesday. Bowlsby also tells CBS Sports that ESPN has active engaged the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to pursue “3-5” Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with “future television proceeds”.

The letter alleges ESPN “has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN”. The network currently shares Big 12 rights with Fox.

Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN’s actions are equal to “tortuous interference”.

“[There are] two documents that govern our members,” Bowlsby told CBS Sports. “One is the bylaws, and the other is the grant of rights. The bylaws go for 99 years; the grant of rights go until 2024-25. ESPN has been behind these moves every step of the way.”

He added: “I have every expectation that Oklahoma and Texas will do whatever they can to not meet their [contractual] obligations. That’s what they’ve done so far. … One of the ways the two schools and ESPN will seek to absolve themselves of the obligation is to destabilize the league and cause an implosion of the other eight members.

“I am absolutely certain ESPN employees have discussed and provided incentives for at least one conference to raid 3-5 members from the Big 12. In doing so, they are prepared to reward them with future television proceeds. If the conference goes away as an entity, Oklahoma and Texas could be relieved from their exit obligations. Those obligations at this time would include the payment of $70M to $80M — two years full revenue — per school and leaving their media rights with the Big 12.

“We’re just not going to sit still and let somebody who is supposed to be our partner collaborate and disrupt our business. I know with certainty they are doing it relative to one conference. I suspect they have done the same thing in moving Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.”

With its flagship brands in Texas and Oklahoma departing the conference, the Big 12 is at a crossroads. The letter to ESPN is just the first sign that the conference is gearing up for a legal fight.

“The Big 12 Conference demands that ESPN immediately cease and desist all actions that may harm the conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference’s existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference’s members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment,” the letter reads.

ESPN publicly responded: “The claims in the letter have no merit.”

Continue reading story here

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Stewart Mandel: Pac-12 and ACC may need to team up to keep up with ACC and Big Ten

From The Athletic … The question bouncing around the hallways of the W Hotel here Tuesday: Is the Pac-12 suddenly at risk of having its own marquee programs poached? After the Texas and Oklahoma SEC bombshell, suddenly something like USC and Oregon to the Big Ten or ACC doesn’t sound as wild as it would have just a week ago.

“This is just the beginning,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday about conference realignment. “The entire landscape of college football and its structure is going to change dramatically. Bottom line is, everyone’s got to situate themselves in the best financial arrangement, and everyone’s going to be scrambling to not be left out.”

The latest realignment wave comes at an interesting moment for Kliavkoff’s conference. After years of league-wide grumbling over the increasing financial gap between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten and SEC money machines, the conference will finally go to market soon for a new set of television contracts to begin in 2024. It can finally get out from under ex-commissioner Larry Scott’s archaic deals and failed conference network.

Kliavkoff expressed confidence Tuesday that the pending consolidation to four power conferences won’t harm the Pac-12, and could in fact work to its benefit.

“I reject the idea that if someone else has 16 teams, we need to have 16 teams. That just doesn’t make sense to me,” Kliavkoff told The Athletic. “… I kind of like the schools we have. I like our opportunities, I like our unique geography and footprint. If there’s chaos happening elsewhere in the college football landscape, I think that helps us. If there’s consolidation, that helps us.”

If the Pac-12 ultimately sticks with its current membership, it will still likely garner a spike in its TV rights due to the overwhelming demand for live sports and near-exclusive hold on the #Pac12AfterDark window. Projections conducted for The Athletic last year by research firm Navigate estimated its per-team payouts to rise from just $33 million in 2020 to $60 million by the end of the decade.

Unfortunately, the SEC and Big Ten may be approaching $90 million per school by then.

“We need to close that financial gap,” Oregon AD Rob Mullens said Tuesday. “The exposure gap, the financial gap, needs to be closed to give all 12 of our institutions the chance to continue to excel in the changing landscape.

But how does the Pac-12 do that with no obvious home run candidates west of the Rockies?

In speaking with Pac-12 coaches, ADs and league officials here Tuesday, there was consensus agreement that it is unlikely to covet any of the eight remaining Big 12 schools, given they’d be unlikely to drive added value to the next TV deal. Neither BYU or Boise State have garnered interest from the league in the past, and that doesn’t figure to change this time around.

Given all that, and given Kliavkoff, formerly president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts, came to the job with no preexisting loyalty to college sports’ traditional structure, multiple sources expect him to think boldly and outside the box.

The question is, will it ultimately be his call?

The ACC, far more than the Big Ten or Pac-12, is suddenly facing urgency to do something drastic. Former commissioner John Swofford locked the conference into a potentially disastrous long-term deal with ESPN through 2036. Not only will it soon be lapped by the other conferences financially, but ESPN is clearly putting all its eggs in the even-more-loaded SEC. ESPN takes over the current SEC on CBS package in 2024. Besides Clemson, most ACC programs will soon find themselves perpetually buried on ESPN2 due to the logjam of Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and so on.

Most likely the only way new ACC commissioner Jim Phillips can renegotiate that ESPN deal early is to add new members. And no, Notre Dame will not be ditching independence soon.

Multiple Pac-12 sources wondered aloud whether the ACC will consider becoming the Atlantic and Pacific Coast Conference, teaming up with the Pac-12’s top brands (USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington) to become essentially a third superconference alongside the SEC and Big Ten.

Realistically, neither the ACC or Pac-12 can catch up to those two on their own.

It’s much the same concept Andy Staples proposed as a Big Ten-West Coast marriage, but the Big Ten, currently the sport’s most lucrative conference, is not facing the same pressure to act as the ACC, and Phillips is seen as more nimble and forward-thinking than counterpart Kevin Warren.

Continue reading story here

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July 27th

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The Athletic: What’s the best move for the “Irate Eight”?

From The Athletic

TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor: Back the Pac-20

In 2014, Texas and Texas A&M bickered about who runs the state of Texas. We have an indisputable answer to that one now: the SEC. But the perilous state of the Big 12 creates a rare opportunity for someone else to open up shop in this region in a meaningful way like they never could before.

So this would be our advice to TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech: Try your hardest to convince the Pac-12 that it needs to be in Texas. Markets still matter in expansion, even in the age of cord-cutting and shifts to streaming. They could try to pitch this as a four-school value pack with Oklahoma State. But in these incredibly confusing times, we think back to the Tom Hardy line from the similarly confusing film “Inception” as he brings out a grenade launcher to settle a shootout: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” Why add just four when you have a chance to go all-in and become the Pac-20?

These remaining Big 12 schools know they have to do whatever it takes to get as close as they can to their current $35 million to $40 million revenue distribution range on their next deal. Partnering with another Power 5 league is arguably the best-case scenario for getting there. The Pac-12 is mighty proud of its academic stature, and its leaders would almost certainly resist this concept initially. But the “Conference of Champions” needs to take this moment seriously and start thinking outside the box about how to combat what the SEC is setting up.

These Texas schools and their Big 12 allies have to hope that Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff is a wild card in this whole landscape, a newly installed leader aiming to make a strong first impression with bold action. He’s referred to his conference as an “exclusive club with a high barrier to entry,” and he’d surely have to do quite a bit of selling to get stakeholders on board with aggressive expansion. Maybe it’s too much, too soon. But you can’t pull off what Greg Sankey just did by being timid and thinking short-term.

Can you really say the Pac-12 brand would suffer?

What’s the worst that could happen?

Sticking together is best for the unit as a whole … but as referenced above, it’s not what’s best for every individual school. The exit of Texas and Oklahoma will precipitate a standoff in the coming months, featuring schools quietly assessing their options outside the conference while keeping alive the prospect of sticking together and simultaneously not committing to doing so.

It’s going to get awkward.

But arguably all eight schools could be left out of a plan that would keep them inside of or close to major conference membership. That’s the disaster scenario each of the Big 12’s leftovers needs to avoid — joining a conference where a majority of the membership is currently in The American or the Mountain West Conference.

A full partnership between the Big 12’s leftovers and one of those two leagues would be less than ideal, but it’s better than joining an AAC or MWC with only a couple of other former Big 12 members.

Last year, the Big 12 distributed $37.7 million to its members. The American distributed $5.35 million to members earlier this year and $7.4 million in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

As schools in the Big 12 are learning, without Texas or Oklahoma, their individual value is modest, and having to find a way to operate an athletic department with $30 million less in annual revenue is a very real possibility.

Read full story here (subscription required)…

SEC Presidents to meet on Thursday to discuss adding Texas and Oklahoma

From CBS Sports … SEC presidents and chancellors will meet this week to discuss adding Oklahoma and Texas, both Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated and Heather Dinich of ESPN are reporting. The meeting, scheduled for Thursday, will mark another step in seismic conference realignment as the two powerhouses make their departure from the Big 12 and likely help form the first 16-team superconference.

The Sooners and Longhorns could make their intentions of joining the SEC known as soon as Tuesday by filing a formal letter to the conference, according to Jasoon Whitely of WFAA. A SEC source told Dinich and Mark Schlabach of ESPN that the two schools could officially seek membership as early as this week but did not identify a specific date. Also unknown is whether the conference’s decision-makers would actually vote on adding Oklahoma and Texas due to the amount of work involved with television contracts.

“There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time in order to get to a vote by Thursday,” the source told ESPN.

Should a vote take place, though, 11 of the conference’s 14 members — a three-fourth’s majority — have to vote in favor of expansion. Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel has reported that “getting 11 of the 14 votes doesn’t appear to be an issue.”

In a joint statement on Monday, Oklahoma and Texas said they will not renew their grant of rights agreement with the Big 12, paving the way to join the SEC. The two schools added that they planned to honor their existing media rights agreements through its expiration in 2025. Whether they actually follow through is another story.

Should Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12 early and perhaps make their SEC debut in 2022, each could owe up to $80 million to the Big 12 as a penalty for leaving before the TV rights contract expires. Under Big 12 bylaws, OU and UT are required to give the conference 18 months notice of their departure.

George Kliavkoff: “We do not think expansion is required … That said, we had significant inbound interest from many schools”

Transcript from Pac-12 Media Day press conference …

Before I conclude my remarks, I’d like to quickly address some of the significant recent developments related to college athletics. If the media reports turn out to be  true, we believe the move by Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the SEC strengthens our unique position as the only Power 5 conference with teams in the  Mountain and Pacific time zones. We have a stable, highly successful, and well positioned membership with a high bar to entry. Given our investments in football and men’s basketball, our historic domination of other sports, we do not think expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive.

That said, the fallout from Texas and Oklahoma gives us an opportunity to once again consider expansion. We had already had significant inbound interest from many schools. We will work with our presidents and chancellors to evaluate these opportunities. We expect these decisions to take some time and we will not be sharing any further information today about ongoing expansion discussions.

Q. George and Rob, I wanted to ask on realignment, you mentioned that you’ve had a lot of significant interest coming in from other schools. What bar would a potential member have to clear to be considered worthy of being a member of the Pac-12? Do you feel like there’s any risk to staying at 12 teams if further consolidation occurs?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: I’ll answer the second one first. We don’t think there’s any risk at staying at 12 teams. With respect to bars, that is something we’re going to be discussing with our presidents and chancellors. As you know, we take into account athletics, academics, cultural fit. All very important to us. But there is no set bar that anyone needs to clear.

ROB MULLENS: I’d just add that we have a strong 12, obviously. In this league we’re all about innovation, about being ahead and evolving. This will be no different than that.

Q. Commissioner, the AAU affiliation has been a point of pride for this conference as well as the Big Ten. In your understanding, is AAU affiliation a prerequisite? There’s a report in the last 15 minutes that Texas Tech and Kirby Hocutt have had conversations with. Can you confirm that you have had contact with Texas Tech and Kirby Hocutt?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: As I mentioned, we’re not going to talk about any individual school. We’re not going to negotiate in the media. That’s just not the way we do business.

There is no reset requisite about a specific accreditation. We are very proud of the schools that have that accreditation within our schools. You may remember when Utah joined us, they did not have that and they received that accreditation after they joined us. But there’s no prerequisites.

Q. In light of what happened with the Big 12, what can the Pac-12 do to protect its biggest brands from looking elsewhere?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Rob, maybe you can handle that.

ROB MULLENS: Sure.

This league is a great league. It’s got a rich tradition for many, many years. There’s strong collaboration. We’re all committed to working together to strengthen the  league, again, be prepared as the industry evolves.

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: All of the press reports where someone writes an article completely unfounded about schools going here, schools going there, everyone picks it up, that becomes a news cycle. It’s interesting, curious, fun for the fans, fun for the media. It’s not based in reality if you’re sitting in the rooms that I’m sitting in.

We feel very comfortable with our current membership.

Q. While you said that expansion is not a priority and you’re fine with the number you have, while the SEC is expanding in anywhere from one to three years, does that put a time frame on your consideration for the teams that have reached out to you? Do you feel there’s a calendar working with you?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: So I did not say that expansion is not a priority. I said we didn’t think it was necessary in order to continue to be strong and strive as a  conference. It is a priority to consider all of the alternatives that have been presented to us. And we will do that in a very timely manner.

Other quotes of note … 

… I want to be 100% clear, going forward the Pac-12 conference will make all of our football-related decisions with the combined goals of optimizing CFP invitations and winning national championships. This is a decision fully supported by all 12 of our athletic directors.

The great news is that now we have in place at the conference the team to execute on these goals. As you all know, last year we hired senior associate commissioner for football operations Merton Hanks to run football for the conference. Merton is an overachiever. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, who went on to make four Pro Bowls and win a Super Bowl during his nine-year NFL career. Merton also spent time at Conference USA and as the VP of operations for the NFL.

… Speaking of desirable media markets, we know that the single biggest opportunity that the conference has over time to support our schools and student-athletes is to  strike the right balance between revenue, national exposure, and competitive advantage in our next set of media rights deals.

This is a difficult balancing act. But in a few years, thanks to the foresight of our presidents and chancellors, we will be in a unique and enviable position, unlike many  other conferences, we still own all of our media rights. This gives us unlimited flexibility in how to structure new deals beginning in 2024. In fact, we believe our media rights will be even more valuable if there is further consolidation among the FBS conferences in the next two to three years.

Given the proliferation of bundled media services and the unique and very limited nature of live sports, I believe we will have a large and diverse group of bidders for  our media rights.

… Finally, as I mentioned before, the Pac-12 is in favor of CFP expansion. We believe allowing more teams and athletes to compete for a national championship is a win
for the Pac-12 and for our football players. We appreciate the work that was done to put forward the initial 12-team proposal. There is much about the proposal that we  like. But the Pac-12 and the other conferences that were not part of the two-year process to create the proposal will need some time to collect feedback from our  stakeholders and identify any issues that need addressing.

 

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July 26th

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Report: Big Ten only interested in AAU schools (Pac-12 has eight, including CU)

From Heartland College Sports … Now that Oklahoma and Texas are destined for the SEC, the question remains: what happens to the remaining eight Big 12 teams?

The eight teams could try and re-build the Big 12 or they could bolt for other conferences. The latter appears to be the preference of most fan bases, but whether or not it can happen remains to be seen.

However a new report from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg suggests that the Big Ten would only be interested in adding schools from the AAU. Texas is an AAU member, meantime the only other AAU schools in the conference are Kansas and Iowa State.

Tweet from Adam Rittenberg … Heard today from several people that B1G only would be interested in adding schools from the AAU (Nebraska no longer, but was when it joined league). Texas is AAU member, along with Pac-12 schools like Cal, Washington, Colorado, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford. Oklahoma is not AAU.

The AAU (Association of American Universities) has often been a sticking point for the Big Ten. All its teams are members, except for Nebraska, which was when it joined the league nearly 10 years ago. It was reported last week that Kansas had already set up a call with the Big Ten. And we know that Iowa State would love nothing more than joining the conference as well.

But with the upheaval in college athletics, many have speculated that the Big Ten might forgo AAU status to continue to grow in the arms race that has become college football, driven by the SEC. Adam Rittenberg’s reporting would suggest otherwise.

This also dumps cold water on Oklahoma State, who is not an AAU member, but fans had been optimistic that this may be a landing spot for them as there are reports that the University has had unofficial conversations with the Big Ten Conference.

Oklahoma State President: OU “in clear breach of the bylaws of the Big 12 conference”

From CBS Sports … It’s safe to say that Oklahoma State isn’t pleased with the way Oklahoma went about its exit from the Big 12. School president Kayse Shrum issued a scathing statement on Monday regarding the behind-the-scenes conversations that apparently took place between Oklahoma and the SEC.

“Earlier today OU delivered a document to the Big 12 Conference office which indicated they will not sign the grant of rights agreement in 2024-25,” she wrote. “This action was strategic, deliberate and is the result of months of planning with the SEC. We believe these conversations, which developed over a long period of time, are in clear breach of the bylaws of the Big 12 Conference and broke a bond of trust between our universities in existence for decades.”

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby statement … 

On the heels of Texas and Oklahoma announcing their impending departure from the Big 12 on Monday, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued the following statement:

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships.  Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

CBS Sports: CU to the Big Ten?

From CBS Sports … With Texas and Oklahoma on board, the SEC will at least have the potential to pass the Big Ten as the No. 1 revenue conference.

That almost compels the Big Ten to act. Its teams earn more than $50 million per year between TV rights, Big Ten Network money, bowl payouts and NCAA Tournament revenues. Its media rights contracts expire next year, so even without adding teams, the Big Ten and its members are due for a windfall.

But which teams out there add “pro rata”? In other words, which teams are worth proportional value of $50 million-plus per year?

The biggest remaining chips on the realignment board are Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and USC.  The Buckeyes and Wolverines aren’t going anywhere. Notre Dame has shown no indication of assimilating into the ACC permanently after playing there (successfully, mind you) in 2020 due to COVID-19.

It’s conceivable the big cigars at USC, tired of the underachieving Pac-12, could be interested in joining the Big Ten. That gives the Trojans better access to the playoff and certainly more money.

Such a move would probably involve getting travel partners in Washington, Colorado and possibly Arizona State. That would bring the Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and Phoenix markets into the Big Ten. What would UCLA and Oregon (and Nike) have to say about that?

Don’t sweat the travel. Geography ceased to matter in realignment long ago. Think of a West Coast scheduling “pod” that could include USC, Washington, Colorado, Arizona State, Nebraska and Iowa.

That’s the next potential blockbuster, at least comparable to what the SEC just did. That’s a Big Ten with conceivably seven of the top 16 TV markets in the country stretching coast-to-coast. Before all this occurred, Rutgers was handed a document from the Big Ten during its assimilation into the league. It stated the league’s per school revenue would be $67 million by 2027. Now try to imagine if the West Coast joined in.

Kevin Warren being a rookie commissioner who struggled to align the Big Ten around COVID-19, it’s hard to envision such a massive move for the conference. But with Texas’ interest in the SEC spurred by a powerful board of regents chair, there are powerful forces above commissioners that could make this happen.

Read full story here

Or … Will the Big Ten take six teams from the Pac-12 (excluding Colorado)? 

From Andy Staples at The Athletic … The Big Ten and Pac-12 have been partners in the Rose Bowl for decades, but now is time for drastic action. The best move for the Big Ten — and for the idea of college football as a national proposition — is for the Big Ten to take half the Pac-12.

I realize that I’m the one who wrote last year that the Big 12 needed to take half the Pac-12. One of my reasons was that it would allow the Big 12 to win in an eat-or-be-eaten situation. That might have created a league attractive enough to convince Oklahoma and Texas to stay. But now that the SEC appears ready to chomp down on the Big 12, it’s time to pitch the Big Ten on an opportunity to make sure that the Power 5 shrinks to a Power 2 instead of a Power 1.

Originally, I was going to suggest the Big Ten take USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington. These are all AAU members, so they would get the academic stamp of approval from the other Big Ten presidents. USC, Oregon and Washington are the best football programs, and UCLA is a national brand situated in America’s second-largest city. But then I also thought about the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the academic consortium of Big Ten schools. (Former Big Ten member University of Chicago is no longer a member of the consortium but remains a collaborator.) That group couldn’t possibly pass up a chance to ask Cal and Stanford to join.

Plus, in this case, six could be better than four for reasons I’ll explain shortly.  From a football standpoint, the 20-team league could have four five-team pods. But instead of keeping the West Coast schools together, they’d be spread around the league. This pod arrangement would be for football only, so we’re only talking about at most five road trips a year. Teams could play everyone in their pod every year and then rotate through a different pod each year. That would produce a nine-game conference schedule.

The pods could look like this:

The Leaders Pod

Rutgers

Penn State

Maryland

USC

UCLA

The Legends Pod

Ohio State

Michigan

Michigan State

Cal

Stanford

The Legendary Leaders Pod

Wisconsin

Minnesota

Indiana

Purdue

Illinois

The Leaderly Legends Pod

Iowa

Northwestern

Nebraska

Oregon

Washington

Read full story here (subscription required) …

It’s official: Texas and Oklahoma notify Big 12 they will not renew their grant of rights agreement

From CBS Sports … Texas and Oklahoma have officially begun their transition from the Big 12 to the SEC. The two schools announced Monday they will not renew their grant of rights agreement with the Big 12, though they plan to “honor their existing … agreements” through the 2024-25 term.

The joint statement marks the first step the two Big 12 powerhouses had to take on their way to leaving the conference, though the timing of their departure remains unknown. The Longhorns and Sooners stating publicly that they are willing to remain with the Big 12 through the expiration of the grant of rights agreement could be more legal posturing than it is a definitive departure date, especially if the remainder of the conference crumbles with knowledge that it’s top two teams are leaving.

The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.

If Texas and Oklahoma were to leave the Big 12 early and perhaps make their SEC debut in 2022, each could owe up to $80 million to the Big 12 as a penalty for leaving before the TV rights contract expires. That total equals the combined revenue distribution per school over a two-year period.

Continue reading story here

Big 12 Executive Committee have a “cordial” meeting with presidents of Texas and Oklahoma

From ESPN … The Big 12 executive committee met with the presidents of Texas and Oklahoma on Sunday amid speculation that the two schools intend to depart for the SEC.

Texas’ Jay Hartzell and Oklahoma’s Joe Harroz met via videoconference with the committee, which includes Big 12 Chairman of the Board of Directors and Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec, Baylor president Linda Livingstone and league commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

“The meeting was cordial, and the Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the Conference,” Bowlsby said in a statement. “I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact.”

Big 12 sources told ESPN’s Heather Dinich they are still expecting Oklahoma and Texas to formally notify the league on Monday that they don’t intend to extend their existing media rights deals with the conference, which expire in June 2025. While that is the first formal step toward exiting the conference, it also leaves open the possibility that both schools remain in the Big 12 until the deal expires. It’s a possible legal strategy, one source surmised, that would supersede the reality of the fractured relationships it’s bound to cause within the league.

Sources in the Big 12 continue to tell ESPN they are still trying to understand exactly what Oklahoma and Texas are looking for. One Big 12 source told ESPN their conference officials are anticipating that the SEC presidents and chancellors will eventually vote on whether to formally extend an invitation to Oklahoma and Texas. There is no current timetable as to when a vote might happen, according to an SEC source. The question is if the SEC would extend an invitation knowing the legal strategy of Texas and Oklahoma is to stay through the duration of the TV contract — if that’s what those schools choose to do.

Continue reading story here

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July 25th

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Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday – Guess what will be discussed?

From CBS Sports … New commissioner … same old problems?

That’s one way to ease into Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday at the W Hotel in downtown Los Angeles as the league gathers together after a withering year filled with COVID-19-induced stops, starts and interruptions.

Along the way, Larry Scott lost his job as commissioner and now the league has a fresh outlook. New commissioner George Kliavkoff took over July 1, and while early reviews have been favorable, he faces a bold new world with conference realignment seemingly in full effect. For the moment, that aspect overshadows the league’s other top concern: how to jump-start football.

The Pac-12 has appeared in the College Football Playoff just twice within the first seven years of the four-team bracket — the last appearance coming after the 2016 season (Washington). The league welcomes only one new coach (Jedd Fisch, Arizona) but is bogged down by a few of the same old problems, such as heading into Year 18 without a national championship on the football field.

Let’s dive into some of the prevalent topics set to be discussed this year at Pac-12 Media Day.

Conference realignment ahead?

How does the Pac-12 — or any Power Five conference — react to the SEC’s apparent raid of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12?

The current Pac-12 television deal has three more years to run. While the league is expected to get a bump in its media rights, even if it stands pat, is there a group of schools from perhaps a wounded Big 12 that make sense? Scott made a bold play 11 years ago trying to steal away half the Big 12, including Texas and Oklahoma. It didn’t work at the time, but is the climate favorable now with widespread realignment expected?

One TV media rights insider said there’s no value in, say, taking Texas Tech and Oklahoma State from the Big 12. Regardless, the coming realignment is going to be an immediate test of Kliavkoff’s ability to think on his feet.

He recently said the Pac-12 is “an exclusive club with high barrier for entry.”

On-field improvement needs to be addressed

Kliavkoff is regarded as a bright, tech-savvy leader familiar with the entertainment space having served as an MGM executive. Sounds a lot like Scott, no? The difference being that, at least early on, Kliavkoff has engaged the athletic directors and been willing to listen. The Pac-12 schools themselves are some of the most admired in the country. But if he doesn’t know it yet, Kliavkoff was hired to fix football.

Easier said than done.

The league has been easy to dismiss early in the season after losing an important nonconference game or two. There was a recent two-year period in which each team in the league except one — Washington State — all lost at least three games. There has been recent slippage in Pac-12 recruiting, as well, as the likes of Alabama and Clemson have hauled major talent out of southern California.

Kliavkoff needs to turn around an aircraft carrier, but here’s how it begins: assemble the 12 league presidents in a room and tell them, “You can retain your academic integrity and still compete at a high level in football. That means spending aggressively on football and hiring the right coach when the opportunity arises. Football doesn’t get better until that happens.”

Continue reading story here

Realignment and the College Football Playoff? ESPN holding all of the cards

From the San Jose Mercury News … All of which places immense importance, for the Pac-12 specifically and the sport generally, on the timing of playoff expansion.

The current contract with ESPN expires after the 2025 season.

Contractually, expanding prior to that point would force the playoff to renew its rights with ESPN.

Only by waiting for the current contract cycle to expire could the CFP take its rights to the open market and potentially lure multiple bidders to the table. But five years is a long time to wait for the 12-team event.

ESPN and, by extension, the SEC, undoubtedly want the CFP rights locked up as soon as possible. That would secure a monopoly on two of the sport’s three key media properties — the other being the Big Ten, of which ESPN currently owns a portion.

The long game is easy to spot: Disney would control the rights to the expanded CFP, the SEC, the ACC and part of the Big Ten.

At that point, it could have tepid interest in the Pac-12, which has placed itself at risk by deliberately not partnering with ESPN on long-term Tier 1 rights or the Pac-12 Network.

Such a shift might push the Pac-12 into a deeper partnership with Fox or motivate the conference to pursue agreements with CBS, NBC, Turner, etc.

Except that ESPN’s monopoly of the expanded CFP could dampen the interest level that other media companies take in the sport.

Why would Fox, CBS, NBC, Turner, etc., shell out hundreds of millions annually in media rights payments if there is no possibility of promoting their coverage of the sport’s biggest event (the CFP) and no opportunity, ever, to broadcast the sport’s biggest brands (the SEC).

There would be no end game to justify their cash outlay.

It’s all interconnected, all the pieces — the present and future, regular season and postseason, Group of Five and Power Five.

And right now, ESPN is designing the board, in addition to playing both sides of it.

Read full story here

Desperate Times? Big 12 to offer more money to Texas and Oklahoma to stay?

From CBS Sports … Big 12 officials have discussed a structure in which Texas and Oklahoma would receive additional revenue shares as a way of enticing the two schools to remain in the conference rather than pursue a future in the SEC, conference sources have told CBS Sports.

Such a structure would grant the Longhorns and Sooners an additional half-share annually (1.5 shares each), bumping their payouts to approximately $56 million per year. The other eight schools would decrease their payouts accordingly. Big 12 schools currently average $37 million in annual TV rights earnings, including revenue from bowl games and the NCAA Tournament.

The topic became a discussion point Thursday night during the conference call with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. Texas and Oklahoma were not part of the call. One person familiar with the conversation stressed the revenue share idea was “from the 50,000-foot level” and preliminary in nature.

Texas and Oklahoma are expected to inform the Big 12 on Monday of their intent to not renew their grant of rights agreements with the league, effectively indicating their departure from the conference. That agreement lasts through the 2024-25 athletic season.

What is not known is when the Longhorns and Sooners hope to actually leave the Big 12. As CBS Sports reported Friday, the Big 12 powers would owe the conference as much as $80 million each should they leave before the current TV rights deal expires.

One industry source told CBS Sports that such a bold move could serve as a warning to a conference like the Big Ten, which must ensure it keeps Ohio State and Michigan from moving in the future.

There are exceptions, but most FBS conferences share revenue equally.

While the Big 12 revenue play may be a longshot, league sources tell CBS Sports that the conference hasn’t given up on keeping Texas and Oklahoma in the fold. Retaining UT and OU was the first stated goal in a summary provided by the Big 12 following that Thursday night conference call.

If Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC as expected, there will be a financial windfall for those schools and the SEC as a whole. SEC teams currently earn an average of $44 million per year from their rights agreement, a figure that could balloon to over $60 million with UT and OU in tow.

Continue reading story here

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July 24th

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Just for Laughs: Coloradoan speculates on CSU joining the Big 12

From The Coloradoan … In 2016, the Big 12 went through a lengthy expansion recruitment process, talking to many different schools and creating a shortlist.

CSU was one of the trendy picks to join the league until the conference ultimately decided to remain put at 10 teams.

The Rams made the cut to the final group. As did Cincinnati before the conference decided against expanding. CSU was above Nevada, Boise State, UNLV and New Mexico, who all got cut out early.

At the time CSU, was on an upward trajectory. A beautiful new stadium was set to open soon, and the football program looked to be in a solid position.

Now? The Rams are off the national radar. USA Today lists Houston, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU, Boise State, San Diego State, BYU and even Nebraska as options.

Yahoo suggests an attempt to lure Colorado back and bring Utah and/or the Arizona flagship schools. It then lists Cincinnati, UCF, South Florida, BYU and Boise State as top potential G5 teams. Sports Illustrated and ESPN have similar lists.

You get the idea. None even mention CSU as a longshot candidate.

Now, that doesn’t mean CSU couldn’t end up in a better spot than they are now. Conference realignment is a wild world.

Many of the things that attracted the Big 12 in 2016 are still true. CSU is a strong academic university with a big alumni footprint in the Big 12 area. The Rams may not own the Denver TV market, but they’re in it and would grow into a bigger influence as a member of a power conference.

Of course, that leaves football.

Since the 2016 effort, the Rams have careened into national irrelevance. CSU hasn’t made a bowl since 2017 and is 8-20 over the last three seasons. CSU was picked this week to finish fourth out of six in 2021 within its own Mountain West division.

That beautiful new stadium that helped the 2016 pitch? Well, it is beautiful, but CSU badly needs 2021 to be a bounce-back season on the field and in the stands.

Continue reading story here

Leftover Big 12 members “shell-shocked” – would consider “Big 20″merger with Pac-12

From The Athletic … Texas and Oklahoma will send letters to the Big 12 on Monday informing the league that they do not intend to renew its grant-of-rights agreement upon expiration in 2025, multiple sources told The Athletic.

Such a move is the next necessary step in clearing a path for the two schools to leave the conference and join the SEC, starting a massive ripple effect throughout college athletics. 247Sports first reported the news Friday.

Meanwhile, the remaining eight members of the Big 12 are making contingency plans and assessing what their value would be to other conferences, sources said. Those schools pledged during a call Thursday evening that they would try to stay together, but they are planning for an alternate future in the meantime.

“I’m shellshocked,” a Big 12 athletic director told The Athletic on Friday morning, relaying what has been a mind-blowing 48 hours chock full of confusion, angst and a chilling feeling of betrayal.

Reaching out to the Pac-12 about a potential 20-school merger was discussed during Thursday’s Big 12 leadership call. Such a move seems to be a more favorable alternative for the Big 12 than bringing in new members, which might involve raiding the American Athletic Conference, to lift its membership back into double digits.

“Bringing in a Cincinnati and UCF doesn’t bring any eyeballs,” the AD said.

A second league AD said, “There is no combination of Group of 5 members we can add that will garner our same TV deal, but it’s all on the table right now,” then added, “I don’t think (Texas) A&M has been very successful in blocking this.”

Texas and Oklahoma’s flirtation with the SEC appears to have been months in the making. Though the story leaked Wednesday, just before Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher took the microphone at SEC media days, sources indicated that the process began long before that.

Continue reading story here

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USA Today: Winners and Losers from potential move by Texas and Oklahoma

From USA Today … A lightning bolt struck Wednesday in the middle of SEC media days with the report that Oklahoma and Texas have expressed interest in joining college football’s most successful conference.

It’s been almost 10 years since the SEC expanded to 14 teams with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri — both castoffs from the Big 12. Grabbing the Sooners and Longhorns would be its last salvo against the league. Both schools are traditional powers that have shaped the history of the sport, and their move would dramatically alter the landscape of college athletics.

The fallout to the leagues and schools would be immense if the change happens. And there would be impact across the country.

A look at the potential winners and losers of the possible move.

Winners

The SEC

You’re the biggest conference in college football. You make the most money. You’ve won 11 of the past 15 national championships. So why would you add two teams to your league and split that revenue an additional two ways?

The answer is easy: Because they are Oklahoma and Texas. Simply put, they’re effectively the two biggest free agents when the next wave of conference realignment comes. You either bring them in or watch as they join a rival league, possibly the Big Ten.

There’s also plenty of value in both schools that can further add revenue when television contract negotiations come up again. The Sooners have a history as impressive as any school in the country. They’ve won seven national championships, produced seven Heisman Trophy winners and made the College Football Playoff four of the past six seasons. Texas hasn’t been as successful on the field as its rival, but it would bring the flagship school from one of the best recruiting areas. What was previously opened up by the addition of Texas A&M would become SEC-exclusive territory.

College football fans

It just means more, meaning more games between elite college football programs. The SEC expansion to 16 teams would almost certainly lead to an expansion from the current slate of eight league games. Whether nine or 10, there would be better offerings each week.

One of those contests would see the return of the annual showdown between Texas and Texas A&M that was a staple of Thanksgiving weekend before it ended in 2011. There’s also the possibility of yearly games for the Longhorns and Oklahoma against LSU, Alabama or Auburn and cross-division games with Florida and Georgia.

Losers 

The Big 12

There’s really no way to sugarcoat what the loss of Oklahoma and Texas would mean to the conference. It would lose its two biggest brands and revenue generators and there’s no replacements to fill the void. Instead of arguably being the third-best conference behind the SEC and Big Ten, the league would become clearly the worst of the Power Five, regardless of how it sorts out the replacements.

Among the conference schools, the biggest impact would be felt by Oklahoma State. Continuing the Bedlam Series against the Sooners seems remote, meaning the Cowboys would lose the rivalry game that is a focal point of their season. TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech would have a similar diminished outlook with the Longhorns no longer an opponent.

Texas

Why are the Longhorns on this list if they’re making this move? Yes, going to the SEC is a no-brainer but the costs for Texas would be significant.

The Longhorns operate as the big dog in the Big 12 and try to use their financial might and prestige to push around the rest of the league. That’s given them outsized influence over the league office and members. That would go away with the move. Texas would be just another big school in the SEC and it would have to operate with great political adeptness to influence league matters. That would start with the issue of the Longhorn Network deal which gives the school approximately $15 million per year. How that would fit into a league that has its own network — unlike the Big 12 — and splits revenues would surely be a debate.

There’s also the question about how well the football program is prepared for the major step up in competition. Texas hasn’t won the Big 12 since 2009. It hasn’t come close to making the playoff while playing in a league with significantly less talent. It’s on its third coach since Mack Brown left and recruiting has suffered with Texas A&M’s ascension. This is not a program that has been patient or operates with a modest view of its place in the college football hierarchy. What happens when the losses pile up and they’re behind the other programs in the league with little chance of catching up?

American Athletic Conference

The league has been at the front of the playoff expansion debate with Central Florida and Cincinnati missing out even after having unbeaten seasons. But after that success and the expectation of the field being expanded soon, the American could see its top schools picked off and headed for greener pastures.

There are not many places for the conference to turn if that comes to pass. Possibly adding schools from Conference USA or the MAC seems unlikely to change its fortunes.

Read full story here

CU and Nebraska: Part of the “National Athletic Conference, West Division”?

From MSN.com … With Texas and Oklahoma looking to shake up the college football world we take a look at what Notre Dame’s role should be …

Texas and Oklahoma shook up the college football world this week when it was leaked they were looking to get out of the Big 12 and join the SEC. Even if the Longhorns and Sooners don’t get into the SEC it’s clear they are set on leaving the Big 12.

This is yet another swing at putting together a super conference, something presidents looking for bigger pay days have wanted for some time. The reality is money and greed will always eventually win the day in college athletics, and super conferences are likely going to happen, whether it be now or down the road.

In our latest show we discuss the Texas/Oklahoma/SEC situation and what this would mean for Notre Dame and the rest of the college football world.

The podcast above is our discussion on those topics, and below is the Q&A session that followed. Much of the Q&A was also about this very topic, so we are including it here.

In the show we talked about whether or not Notre Dame should respond to this move by staying independent, joining the ACC or taking more of a leadership role and forming their own conference. It made for a very interesting and fun conversation.

National Athletic Conference … West Division … 

Texas … Oklahoma … Nebraska … Colorado … USC … UCLA … Kansas … Utah …

Continue reading story here

31 Replies to “Realignment News (and Rumors)”

  1. I’m optimistic that the Texas / OU defection could wind up solving the Pac-12’s little sister TV contract problem. A TV contract aligning a coast-to-coast, 40 team “conference” would likely pay each school very well, and Pac-12 universities would no longer suffer the massive pay gap that they currently experience.

    On top of that, it would be fun to play Nebraska annually again.

    Finally – forgive the schadenfreude – I’ll be pumped to watch Baylor, who tried to shut CU out of the Pac-12 a decade ago, relegated to playing Rice, Sam Houston State, and UT San Antonio for an $80,000 annual contract from WACO-TV channel 5.

    1. today’s announcement of the pending alignment does seem to leave the irate eight flopping in the dust. The only team I might have any sympathy for is Iowa State . I wonder how tightly wrapped Mike Gundy is right now.
      I wonder if this means the SEC will continue a path to being the NFL minor league system as described by the author.
      Hopefully the alignment and separation from the SEC will lead to a complete revamping of the NCAA producing a regulatory agency that is more in tune with reality on enforcement rather than profit and NIL aside, return most of college football to a more amateur like activity

  2. Something I have not seen/heard anyone addressing is should CU be trying to be in the soon to be minor league football game. It seems with NIL, realignmemt, etc the blue blood programs (SEC, some Big 10, some ACC) are going to create the super semipro conferences. Is this what CU wants to be a part of? Or do some current Power 5 schools like Stanford, Duke, Kansas, etc. walk away from the crazy billion dollar industry? If CU opts to go after being in the mega conferences do we realistically have the donor base to compete or would we be a bottom feeder? Don’t know the answers but maybe this could be a podcast or article topic.

    1. Great question. I don’t have the answer either. But I think that will be driven by tv money and Denver is an appealing market , even if the reality is most of it doesn’t give a rip about CU football, nor basketball.

      Go Buffs

    2. If the PAC12, B1G & the ACC get together to form a “Classics College Football League” then CU will be fine, if the conferences just buddy up against the sec to get leverage that will be good also.

      CU should stay relevant and in the game it’s been in for decades, they didn’t build the Championship Center to be the head of the mac/wac conferences. Just tell HCKD, the staff and the players, “we brought you all here to compete, but we don’t believe in you enough to stay in OUR OWN CONFERENCE!, So,we’re going to drop down to the minor’s and hope we can be the big fish in a little pond.”

      There are 40 schools out there that can/will hopefully work together to get some kind of handle on this, it’s looks like it’s the schools left in the irate8 that are going to be dropping down, and I don’t want to see CU give up that way. Those schools wouldn’t if they were in the Buffs shoes, they’d try to sue their way in if they had to.

  3. Please no irate eight agreements. They are dead in the water. The PAC would be diluting its brand. The entire population of Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma….and ewe…Lubbock and Whacko is a shade over 10 million. (not counting Dallas. TCU is more like CU/Broncos cause they have the Cowboys) The entire population of the PAC states is somewhere around 68 million. I know there are other stats involved but just that one ought to give you the monetary shivers.
    If there is going to be any arrangement short of a conference consolidation make it with the Big 10.
    no brainer

  4. Question: If the B1G were to grab 9 of the PAC12 or all wouldn’t Kliavkoff be out of a job?

    So, why would he want to see that, unless he got to stay as “West Coast” Commissioner? Does he see it as an act that goes down in history and keep a job too?

    So, wouldn’t those talks have to take places directly with the schools that the B1G wanted to poach?

    And, given the conferences relationship for the century wouldn’t that be a winner take all if poached? Kinda brutal if it went down like UT & OU did, but with the 9 mentioned.

  5. I like the sporting news plan.
    coast to coast
    Their math is wrong though cause the Big has 14 and if you add the pac9 schools
    plus ISU and Kansas that’s 25 not 24. (Pick Kansas to get to 24)

    two 12 team divisions?

    four 6 team divisions?
    Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington
    Buffs, Arizona, Utes, Kornholers, Kansas, Iowa
    Badgers, Minyhaha, Illini, Northwestern, Indiana, purdue
    MSU, OSU, Michigan, PSU, Maryland, Rutgers

    11 conference games ……..(1 warm up games)
    Play 5 in your division
    Play 2 in each of the other divisions (So you play every body over three years)

    4 team division winner play off (other teams can get bowl games if they are still around )
    The winners to the Championship game
    ( this format is only one more game for the two teams playing for the championship meaning 14 games and an additional game for the semifinal teams…………

    then on to the national champion ship series of 12 teams for the teams that make it.

    Bolder Buffs Bowl Bound

    Note: ASU, WSU, OSU to mountain west.
    Note 2: Don’t care about the rest of the remaining little 12

    1. That is the all AAU, except of course for Kornkob Kommunity Kollege.

      But I say to myself…………..Do you really want to give up Texas? Tough call.

      So maybe ya gotta add Houston and OSU and i don’t know

      If ya need texas you won’t get an aau team

      so

      What the hell

      Just stay the pac 12

      Beautiful Buffs

  6. Ai yi yi.
    I need to take time to consider the entire picture before I comment.
    Bowlsby is meeting with the “Texas Senate Committee on the future of college sports in Texas?”
    ok…done
    No Texas!!!. No , no, no
    no Houston, TCU, Tech…no one from Texas.
    If we have to accommodate a Bowlsby deal out of that pig pen NO irate eight either.
    We can already recruit in Texas without the Texas senate’s approval.
    Lets approach Notre Dame. all they can do is say No.
    Lets talk Gonzaga into starting a football team
    Anything but Texas.

    1. I agree with all of your “no’s” and Bowlsby and their whole litigation every time they get their panties in a wad, looking you, Starr & baylor. I thought (and wrote) Tech alone with OSU would be good, then I realized [after] where Tech is located doesn’t really add any TV value, so I agree the PAC12 doesn’t need any of the irate 8 to add value.

      So, making an agreement with the B1G to stay put and for both conferences not to increase membership with an agreement to schedule more inter-conference games may be best. If (where possible) they can get each school to get one game against the other conference that would add TV value for both conferences without adding schools to share with. An agreement like that could be used by both conferences in their media negotiations.

      And would BYU, SDSU or Boise add TV value, or just more mouths to feed?

      1. SDSU should be valuable in that respect. From Spanish fork to Ogden its almost a hundred miles of solid urban and suburban development and BYU seems to get quite a bit of air time already. Boise? Hopefully their winning record would bring in more viewers than just the survivalists in Idaho.

        1. My hope is the decades long Rose Bowl relationship between the PAC 8/10/12 and Big 10/14 will, when all is said and done, mean something. From a dollars standpoint, THAT would be best,… All time zones, National feel and entryway to play the SEC/ACC. “winner.” As mentioned in an earlier post, it would have a AFC/NFC “feel” to an eventual “National Title Game.” Whether or not it happens, I do not know, but can always hope,…

        2. San Diego SHOULD be a pretty good TV market, but until recently their program wasn’t that good and the state schools here CA aren’t on the same playing field (TV markets wise) as the bigger schools; it’s a different animal that way in CA with all of the big schools and pro teams.

          In Washington and Oregon for example, you have the 2 schools with bigger alumni bases in their major cities and less comp for TV. I have a friend in the Seattle area that graduated from WSU and is a die hard fan, watches all the games and talked shit when the Cougars were doing well and especially when CU wasn’t.

          Yet most of the guys I know around here that graduated from Long Beach State could care less about their school’s sports, yea when the basketball team does well and they hear about they dig it a bit, but they don’t sit and watch games the way we do. Same could be said for a few that I knew from SDSU, except for one ex-bother in law and he is a “social idiot” so he doesn’t count… and he moved away, so who knows if he even cares or follows them anymore.

          In addition to CA’s four PAC12 schools with two in the north and two in the south, in SoCal there are two NFL teams, two NBA teams, three MLB teams, plus hockey and soccer, AND Northern Cal has their Professional teams too. That’s a lot of programming taking up space on the TV and the SDSUs & LBSUs don’t get much quality airtime; unless they’re doing really well and it’s still second tier.

  7. thought more about VK’s list and I think we need more Colorado teams in the conference. How about Mines, Colorado College and fort Lewis

  8. Well the first thing you do is drop
    ASU
    WSU
    OSU

    Ya don’t need em

    Then you add
    TCU
    OSU
    Kansas
    Iowa state
    West Virginia
    Pittsburg
    Louisville
    Syracuse

    Go East Big Pac

    1. Posting while shroomed
      Not totally whacked out though as I dont see Baylor on the list. Can we trade Houston for TCU? Houston is the biggest part of the Texas recruiting factory.

    2. 3 6 team divisions
      And if those three want back in so be it.
      3 7 team divisions

      But a rule is you can’t be in the same state of anyone in your division. Diversity is the plan

      Buffs get first pick of division rivals

      Buffs.

      Note: IN a six team division you play your division rivals twice. And 1 team from the other 2 divisions.

      Then the 3 winners plus the next three top ranked teams go into a playoff. Top two ranked teams get a bye. Then the Championship game.

      Note: Screw the rest of those other leagues.

      Note 2: THE PAC 12 IS GOING IT’S OWN WAY.

      Note 3: It can’t be called a National Championship with out the MBP (Mighty Big Pac) So Bug off

      Note 4: Well,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, we never win it anyway……………………………… so what the hell

  9. I came across a really interesting article over the weekend, where it had a ranking the value of all P5 schools plus the 8 or so G5 teams that have been commonly mentioned as expansion targets. They included Social Media following size as a way to gauge how popular a team may be in a digital space (as opposed to just media market size since so many have “cut the chord” and traditional media markets aren’t the end all be all this time around.

    Article can be found here: https://medium.com/run-it-back-with-zach/which-college-football-programs-are-the-most-valuable-in-conference-realignment-b8e840f42189 and the source of their “Social Media following” is from here: https://zachmillersports.medium.com/which-college-football-programs-have-the-most-followers-on-social-media-89b9cb97ac79
    Some takeaways that I found interesting: If you look at social media following alone, Oklahoma State would be 3rd in the PAC12. What shocks me the most is that USC would only ne 7th in a theoretical merged “BigPAC”. TCU, Utah, and Arizona State all have more followers than USC.

    Now, to me that is a big problem for our conference. Not the order but how low some of our teams rank in followers. The league needs to revamp their social media strategy ahead of negotiations. Like big time.

  10. I’m going to put on my rarely used pundit prediction hat. Hopefully it doesn’t slide right off.
    Money is the root of not just all evil but everything else. As such the money path seems to lead straight to the super conference. I see Notre Dame, Clemson, USC and a team to be named later all going to what will used to be the SEC. Not sure what the new name will be but the slogan will be “the buck stops here.”
    An intermediary step is also possible with USC and a team to be named later (ND? Ducks?) going to the big Ten….provided only if Ohio State (and ND) isn’t lured into the super conference right way.
    Obviously trying to shore up the second tier conferences by adding more second tier teams still aint gonna be able to let them compete with the super conference on the field or the bank deposits. Hopefully they all keep their conferences alive , as well as any tradition they have left, and return to something more closely resembling amateur sports again….sigh. That rewriting of the NCAA constitution might as well wait until the dust settles.
    Heck now that I am retired maybe I will make more appearances in the stands at Folsom even though the traffic between the I70 exit at Golden and Boulder is enough to drive this hick crazy.

  11. If something like the “Big-Pac” would come about, the Rose Bowl, now struggling to find its way amidst the playoff structure, could find its way. If the one division winner of the old Big-10, played the other, and the division winners in the old PAC-12 played each other in a “Rose Bowl,” they could then play the winner of the ACC/SEC division winner playoffs. Runner-ups could meet in early conference playoffs like NFFL wildcards. The college structure could, with time, planning, and attention, morph into something like the “Big-Pac” becoming the AFC and the ACC/SEC becoming like NFC – eventually squaring off in a Super Bowl like championship game,…

    That seems like the type of scenario that would bring about a playoff structure keep some of the bowls like Sugar and Rose and fit the unique needs of football (as opposed to more frequent games in “March Madness”).

    That is my two cents of where this may be headed.

    1. I like the way that your thinking, that would be good for the fans; I think most of us have been thinking/hoping it will go somewhere in that direction. Will the sec go for it when they are talking about getting four or more teams in the CFP under the current plan that is being discussed for CFP playoffs?

      I guess there could be four wild card games week one, two games with two teams from each of the super conference? And then two more wild card games for two teams that don’t make one of the two super conferences against two more teams from the Super Conferences, for the first eight teams and buys for 4 (2 each super conferences) teams. And then week 2 & 3 for the championship.

      A mix of the B1G & the PAC12 with a couple of other teams and the acc & sec with a couple of others to get 32 each in the super conference, would include most of the original P5 teams, some that made it late; a couple from the irritate 8 may not get pick up.

      And, yes ND would have to figure out if they want to join a SC or stay Indy and play in the first round to get in, but that would be their “conference playoff” so to speak, so not unfair, just a different path.

      OR: The sec uses NIL and monies from rabid fans to build their own semi-pro league and the rest make a new ncaa, for lack of a better word.

      note: non-caps on purpose, shows who I respect… or don’t baylor! I still remember what you did!

      1. You are correct that some in the SEC are likely thinking of creating a Superconference along the lines of the English Premier League. Great for money, but bad for the sport. Like the NFL, the need for viewers and television markets will make it at least 32 teams. I do not think sixteen will be enough. Regions, in the end will also be important. We will see. There will, whether in the short or long term, be another shake-up or two. C.U., beyond tradition, Coaches along the lines of Crowder and McCartney, will likely be in good shape because of the Denver television market, television, of course, driving the dollars.

  12. There seems to be a distinct possibility of a “new conference” emerging that might be named something like “Big-Pac.” This would essentially constitute the Big Ten (really, 14) and PAC-12 (actually, 12). Given the many years of close ties through the Rose Bowl affiliation, this could work,…

    If, indeed, the eventual future will be four “conferences,” the SEC and ACC will form a bond of the east and south and the “Big-Pac” would cover the midwest and west. This is solely based on a “hunch,” with no inside information whatsoever. I have no idea who would be added to the ACC or “Big-Pac,” although West Virginia to the ACC seems to make genuine sense.

  13. What Wilner is really promoting is USC and Oregon going to the Big 10 giving them an even 16 members and leaving the rest of the PAC to flounder like the Big prairie.

  14. Hawaii has a tough time in football because of the time it takes to fly to the mainland. I think they schedule 2 mainland games on consecutive weekends, and just stay there during the week. So, if USC and the Ducks go to the Big 10 or the ACC, and they have Big 10 games against Maryland and Rutgers , they would stay there all week? How about ACC games against BC and Duke? I cannot see those 2 schools creating long term classroom disruptions, and then calling their players “students”.

    1. Good comparison on the travel times to the east coast and Hawaii, but they have to do that 6 times with 6 teams going to them too. But if there are 16 to 20 teams in a B1G/PAC then those teams will be in pods and those games going across the nation wouldn’t be that many; maybe every other year or two to go that far. And with a home and away only one school is going that far so each year and one of the East Coast schools can come out to the West Coast; that’s two (of 8) conference games each year with cross country appeal; and only six left to fill locally.

      The B1G will still fill a lot of games on their side of the country, while the PAC may send one of the teams from the west coast per year for a cross country conference game. And one of their’s could come out west, but everyone else will fill the schedule with schools closer to home in their pods and next pod over.

  15. I just remembered that former CU AD Mike Bohn (current USC AD) was the AD at Cincinnati in between those stops. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bearcats or one or more of the other schools from their conference (Houston, SMU, UCF, etc.) reached out to him for a feel on their chances to join if they asked.
    Not necessarily of course, but there is a natural in there already for them.

    Pretty much no one is expecting Baylor to be let into the conference. Have seen various combos of the rest of the “Irate 8” (love that nickname) potentially being let into the conference. No way we go the PAC20 route. At least not with just added the Big 12 castoffs. Maybe they should just go back to the historic “Big 8” name. 😀

  16. USC going to the big 10??
    I might believe that if someone with a little more credibility than the clowns at CBS thought so too.
    First he says “underachieving Pac and then says USC would have a better chance at the CFP in the Big 10?
    Seriously?
    Is there someone in the PAC at Ohio States level? Wouldn’t it be easier for USC to run the table in the PAC?
    The really pissoff factor for me is that Texas might be screwing the Buffs again with Texas like USC the next domino to bolt the conference leaving the rest of us up on the air.
    I guess the new commish (havent bothered to learn to spell his name yet) has his work cut out for him.

  17. Rittenberg………….Heard today from several people that B1G only would be interested in adding schools from the AAU (Nebraska no longer, but was when it joined league).

    They were kicked out for fudging the numbers………….ie cheating

  18. Do media contracts focus more on “good teams” or “eye balls on the games”? I am in the “eye balls” camp. When a company pays for a commercial they want to know how many people will see it. So , let’s go big here. Merge the Big 10 and the PAC-12 (all the teams). Divide the teams in to pods. Call it the Coast to Coast Conference. The overall TV audience has to be bigger than the SEC audience. I see big bucks all around in this. Not only do the Buffs reunite with Nebraska, we get games with Penn State, OSU, Michigan etc, and MidNight Mel comes to town now and then. Good stuff!

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