POSTED: October 14, 2022

CU in The Post Pac-12 Era of College Football

CU in The Post Pac-12 Era of College Football

October 14th

Wilner: Ultimately, the Big 12 Will be the Receptacle for Schools Not Worthy of the Big Ten and SEC

From the San Jose Mercury News … You said that eventually some Pac-12 teams will leave for the Big 12, just not now since the Big Ten isn’t expanding soon. Is there anything the Pac-12 can do in the meantime to prevent those schools from leaving? — @hmckee53

In my vision of the future of the sport, Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah are destined for the Big 12. But let’s be clear with the specifics on two fronts.

*** The timing of the exodus is unknown and depends on the Big Ten.

If the conference adds Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Cal to form a six-school western division (with USC and UCLA), the Pac-12 will dissolve. But there are three possible windows for the rupture:

1. This fall, which seems unlikely.

2. The end of the decade, as the Big Ten prepares for its next media contract.

3. The middle of the 2030s, when the ACC’s grant-of-rights agreement expires.

It’s entirely possible that the reconstituted Pac-12 will survive for another 10-15 years. In fact, that outcome is more likely than a collapse in the next few months.

*** The future Big 12 won’t be the Big 12 as we know it.

Instead, it will be a coast-to-coast receptacle for any Power Five programs that aren’t future members of the Big Ten or SEC.

Sure, we see the Pac-12 eventually fracturing, but the ACC will do the same. The choice schools (Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Florida State and Miami) will eventually join either the SEC or the Big Ten.

In other words, the implosion of the current conference structure is not specific to the Pac-12. It’s the result of an inevitable, systemic change — one fueled by the quest for media dollars — that impacts every conference in some fashion or another.

The Big 12 could lose a team or two, as well. Kansas would be atop our list of likely departures, followed by Oklahoma State and Houston if the SEC and Big Ten end up as 24-team leagues.

But when the shaking subsides, the Big 12 will be reformed, perhaps renamed and home to 20-to-24 schools that are broken into four divisions.

The long-haul structure for college football, in that scenario, will feature an expanded Big Ten, an expanded SEC, a huge Big 12 and then a series of conferences crafted from the current Group of Five.

Read other expansion questions here


August 26th

538 Does a Deep Dive Into Big Ten’s Options: CU in the “Strategic Reaches” category 

From Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight … If it were up to me — and I grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, where you could literally hear the roar of the crowd from Spartan Stadium in my backyard on game days — the Big Ten would have stopped expanding after 12 teams. Penn State, added in 1990, and Nebraska, in 2011, were natural-enough fits: big, public Midwestern research universities with good academics and excellent sports.

Instead, in 2014, we got … Rutgers, which was supposed to deliver the New York metro market to the Big Ten. I’m a huge sports fan who’s been living in New York since 2009, and I have had exactly zero conversations about Rutgers sports. Since joining the Big Ten, the football team’s conference record is 12-58.

Having given up on the Big Ten being a Midwestern conference, I’m actually on board with its newest additions: UCLA and USC. At least they’re schools with great football traditions — and historical connections to the Big Ten through frequent Rose Bowl matchups.

So screw it. At this point, it’s a big game of “Risk” with two superconferences, and the Big Ten is playing for keeps against the Southeastern Conference. Which schools should the Big Ten add next?

The Action Network recently reported that the Big Ten is considering these seven programs: Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State and (perhaps to a lesser extent) Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California. Is that a logical list of schools to want? Do other programs also belong in this tier? And are there good backup options if the Big Ten is spurned by this group?

Let’s consider a broad universe of possibilities — pretty much every plausible expansion candidate. Specifically, we’ll evaluate:

That’s a total of 38 schools. We’ll measure them in three broad categories — sports, fit and market — using a series of quantitative metrics. I’ll describe the process below.

Tier One … Notre Dame

Tier Two … “No Brainers” … North Carolina, Oregon, Florida State, Washington 

Tier Three … “How big should the Big Ten be?” … includes Utah, Stanford and Cal 

Tier Four … “Strategic Reaches” …

Arizona State45544648
Oklahoma State65324046
Virginia Tech38504745
Georgia Tech39623144
West Virginia49383842

Would I be hugely surprised to wake up to the news that the Big Ten had added Duke, Arizona or even Oklahoma State? No, not really. I’d assume the Big Ten had some sort of strategic rationale. Maybe not a good rationale, but a rationale nevertheless. (Remember, all of these candidates rate higher than Rutgers.)

For the most part, the universities in this tier fall into the “good fit, mediocre sports and market” category. Virginia, Missouri, Pitt, Colorado, Arizona, Georgia Tech and Kansas all meet this description, for instance. The fact that the Big Ten has historically spurned both Missouri and Pitt should make the other schools in this category feel worse about their chances, although I would asterisk Georgia Tech as a high-upside play as an AAU member in the Atlanta market that used to have pretty good football.

What about the other programs? Arizona State is a well-rounded candidate in a state with a growing population; its case is pretty similar to Utah’s, though it isn’t an AAU member or a flagship university (but does bring the Phoenix market). Duke’s case depends entirely on how much you care about academics and basketball. Oklahoma State has an excellent sports rating but is a big stretch in terms of both fit (largely because of its poor academic rating) and market (although, if the Big Ten were desperate to add members in the South and couldn’t get the ACC to split up, it’s one of the only palatable options). TCU is in the very desirable Dallas market but has the worst fit rating of any of the 38 schools I tested.

Tier Five … “Let’s be honest, there are better choices” … includes Washington State and Oregon State

Read full story here


August 6th

Pac-12 AD: “I don’t have time nor attention for the Big 12 noise”

From John Canzano … I’ve talked with more than half of the Pac-12 Conference athletic directors since the defection of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten was announced.

Maybe I’m naive, but none of them sound imminently concerned about the Pac-12 being further poached. Not two weeks ago. And not earlier this week. But I reached out to one of the South Division ADs on Friday to check in anyway. In the course of conversation, I asked whether the Big 12 had ever made contact.

Was that ever a thing?

Is it still?

The answer came back: “We’re focused on our task, working with incumbent media, and other nine schools, that I don’t have time nor attention for the Big 12 noise.”

What about the University of Arizona?

Are they a candidate to be poached?

“They are right there with us,” the AD told me.

Again, I could be a sucker. But I’m here to serve as a conduit between the entities I cover and my readers. I’m only going to give you sourced, in-depth reporting and analysis. I’ll tell you what I know. And right now, I have a multitude of Pac-12 ADs all essentially saying the same thing — they are galvanized and believe the conference has good options. Like you, I’m eager to learn what those are.

It may prove that Oregon, Washington and Stanford one day become targets of another round of expansion in the Big Ten. But nothing feels imminent and nobody is sitting by the telephone, waiting to see what happens.

Continue reading story here


August 5th

Four Corners schools Dilemma: Why Stay With Pac-12 if Long-Haul Stability Remains an Issue?

From the San Jose Mercury News

Why should the so-called Four Corners schools stay in the conference when Oregon, Washington and Stanford will continue soliciting the Big Ten, even if there is a short term grant-of-rights signed? — @CjAzWildlifeLaw

We know why Oregon State and Washington State will accept any proposal. But why should Utah, Colorado and the Arizona schools be held at ransom by Oregon, Washington and Stanford when they will leave at the first opportunity? — @DamonDawg

This is the added complication — the very reason the Hotline views Pac-12 survival as merely a four-point favorite over Pac-12 extinction.

(That’s on a neutral field, by the way.)

Were the calculation entirely about annual revenue, survival would be a substantial favorite. We believe Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah would prefer to remain in the Pac-12, and there’s no indication that either league has a significant advantage in future revenue.

But the long-haul stability issue certainly must be considered.

The Hotline does not believe the Big Ten will expand again this decade. In our estimation, Notre Dame will sign a new deal with NBC and remain Independent, limiting the Big Ten’s options.

But admittedly, that’s a precarious assumption for the Four Corners schools.

At this point, the challenge for commissioner George Kliavkoff is crafting a contract that provides flexibility for Washington, Oregon and Stanford and security for the others.

That could be a six-or eight-year deal with an opt-out clause in case the Big Ten comes calling.

Why would the Four Corners agree?

Welp, Utah won’t sign a 10- or 12-year deal with the Big 12, and we aren’t sure Arizona State would, either.

Those schools want flexibility in case the long-anticipated FBS split unfolds and the call comes from the upper tier. (The Phoenix media market is No. 1, per Nielsen DMAs.)

The other issue is timing:

The Pac-12 is negotiating its media deal now and will offer schools a written contract; the Big 12 cannot negotiate for two years and, as a result, is limited to offering projections and promises.

If the revenue is right, Kliavkoff’s task becomes vastly easier.


August 3rd

Former Utah AD: “I see no benefit to somebody from the Pac-12 going to the Big 12”

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 schools would have little to gain financially from jumping to the Big 12, according to a veteran of realignment who’s watching the chaos unfold from his retirement chair.

“I see no benefit to somebody from the Pac-12 going to the Big 12,” said former Utah athletic director Chris Hill, who oversaw the Utes’ 2011 move into the Pac-12.

Hill retired in 2018 after a stellar three-decade career in which he hired Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. He has tracked the realignment situation closely and is aware of speculation that several Pac-12 schools, including the Utes, could jump to the Big 12.

Asked specifically about the Utah administration’s preference, Hill offered:

“They all want to stay. They love the schools they’re associated with and the areas they recruit and play. Utah has a lot of alumni in the Bay Area. There aren’t alumni in Waco. Those things matter.”

Nor does Hill believe it’s essential for Utah to partner with rival Brigham Young, which is set to enter the Big 12 next year.

“They just need to play each other,” he said. “Do they need to be in the same league to do that? Maybe, but maybe not.”

Hill believes football should be treated as a separate business within college sports and will eventually feature a 48-team upper division. That bifurcation could happen in the next few years — or not for a decade.

Unless the Big Ten or SEC come calling, the 36 schools remaining in the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC must recalibrate their strategy and beware of lifeboats that aren’t as sturdy as they appear.

“Their market is their market,” Hill said, referring to the media rights value held by any given school. “Arizona’s worth in the Big 12 is the same as it is in the Pac-12. The finances of moving won’t help anybody.

“What difference does it make if you’re getting $35 million a year in the Pac-12 versus $40 million a year in the Big 12? Either way, it’s not going to move the dial for you.

“The only benefit from switching is to destroy the other league.”

Hill isn’t convinced the Pac-12 must expand following the departures of USC and UCLA in 2024. The schools currently in the Big 12 could be difficult to poach because of the league’s bylaws, which feature a 99-year commitment.

Section 3 (“Withdrawals and Sanctions”) suggests an exit fee equal to two years of conference revenue — approximately $80 million — would apply:

“Any Withdrawing Member shall pay to the Conference a commitment buyout fee (the “Buyout Amount”) in an amount equal to the sum of the amount of distributions that otherwise would be paid to the Member during the final two years of its membership in the Conference.”

Continue reading story here


August 1st

Wilner: No reason to expect news on August 4th (end of exclusive negotiating window for ESPN and Fox)

From the San Jose Mercury News … The Pac-12’s month-long fight for survival could seep into the football season, and perhaps deep into the season, as the forces of realignment ripple across the college landscape.

Survival, extinction, expansion, partnerships — everything hinges on the outcome of media rights negotiations in the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.

Commissioner George Kliavkoff offered context Friday at the Pac-12’s annual preseason media event at the Novo Theatre.

“To set expectations,” he said, “this process will accelerate after the Big Ten deals are concluded and will likely take months to complete.”

There are two reasons for the extended timeline.

— The Pac-12 is three weeks into an exclusive negotiating window with current partners ESPN and Fox that began in early July and is contracted for 30 days.

But both networks are also immersed in negotiations with the Big Ten that were extended by the June 30 additions of USC and UCLA and are now expected to conclude in August.

If inclined, the Pac-12 could agree to extend the exclusive 30-day window for ESPN and Fox beyond the contractual end-point in early August — a good-faith offer that would allow the networks to wrap up the Big Ten deal before focusing on the Pac-12.

The delay could push the timeline for the Pac-12’s exclusive window into September.

— But even then, the conference would only accept a stellar offer from Fox or ESPN. Otherwise, Kliavkoff will take the inventory to the open market and allow other networks the opportunity to bid on Pac-12 rights.

“We already have significant interest from potential partners, including both incumbents and new traditional television and, most importantly, digital media partners,” he said.

The results of the Big Ten’s negotiations could impact the demand for Pac-12 content among networks that receive less than their desired slice of the former.

For instance, if ESPN obtains a limited amount of Big Ten football, its interest in the Pac-12 could increase.

(The reverse is also true — and would be a bad sign for the conference.)

If genuine interest in the Pac-12’s media rights exists beyond the two traditional partners, the open-market negotiations could last several months.

Continue reading story here


July 31st

Pac-12 AD’s: No financial upside for their schools in joining the Big 12

From The Athletic … But Yormark, a longtime sports executive the Big 12 hired from Roc Nation to succeed the retiring Bob Bowlsby, does not sound particularly frightened about his conference’s future without Oklahoma and Texas. Even though Yormark’s first day on the job is technically Monday, he and Big 12 leaders have been seriously pursuing expansion for the past four weeks.

Neither conference is operating from a position of strength going into the next TV deals (the Pac-12’s is up in 2024, the Big 12’s in 2025) after both lost marquee television brands. The Big 12 can tout the fact it has added three strong Group of 5 programs in Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to go with independent BYU. But the Pac-12 is already negotiating its next TV deal and will know its league’s valuation a year earlier than the Big 12.

Both conferences’ futures will not be determined by recent on-field accomplishments, stadium attendance or anything else the schools control. Realignment is about Nielsen ratings, market sizes and potential TV windows.

To that end, two Pac-12 ADs told The Athletic on Friday that they see no financial upside for their schools in joining the Big 12.

“None of (the rumors) are true,” one said. “The data continues to show that staying together makes a lot of sense as we go through the media process, of which we are right in the middle. … Their TV deal is up a year after ours. It doesn’t make much sense.”

“Based on what our consultants have told us, the 10 staying together is the best option, and the only option, because we can’t control what happens in the Big Ten,” another said. “It would be irresponsible from a fiduciary standpoint to just jump to the Big 12 just for the sake of jumping.”

Kliavkoff was more definitive in a subsequent interview with The Athletic.

“You look at the metrics, you look at the numbers, and any way you cut and slice and dice the numbers, you come to the conclusion that no Pac-12 school is going to the Big 12,” he said.

As Yormark promised two weeks ago at his conference’s media day, the Big 12 is being as aggressive as it can in chasing the opportunity that emerged when USC and UCLA pulled off their surprise defections.

“My preference is to disrupt and not be disrupted,” Yormark told The Athletic on July 13. “And if you don’t disrupt, you will get disrupted.”

As Kliavkoff acknowledged Friday, everything is on hold until the Big Ten finalizes its media rights deal, which is expected to happen in the next few weeks. That deal will provide clarity on which networks or streamers will join Fox Sports in partnering with the conference for 2023 and beyond.

The Pac-12’s exclusive 30-day negotiating window with current rights-holders ESPN and Fox ends Aug. 4. Though Kliavkoff noted that his league’s negotiation process likely will take months to complete, that date is important to note. If ESPN and Fox haven’t made promising overtures or offers at that time, the Big 12 will continue pushing its Pac-12 targets to make a move.

Continue reading story here


July 30th 

Kliavkoff: “Let’s be very clear. No Pac-12 school is joining the Big 12”

From CBS Sports … George Kliavkoff was wired. Not only because of the sparks practically shooting off him due to the loss of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten — yes, he’s that upset — but the Pac-12 commissioner was also wired in the traditional sense: his obligatory cell phone.

It carries instant updates from a network of Pac-12 presidents, chancellors and athletic directors who now report to him each time a Big 12 school reaches out.

“It gets forwarded to me,” Kliavkoff told CBS Sports. “That’s a constant stream of nonsense. Let’s be very clear. No Pac-12 school is joining the Big 12.”

Kliavkoff called his shot that the Big 12 will not trespass, which in these turbulent times is true until it is not. He is a commissioner trying to save his conference on two fronts. The Big Ten has taken its bite and continues to have options. The Big 12 is definitely making inquiries with Pac-12 schools.

At the same time, the Pac-12 continues explore its own expansion.

During a day-long media car wash that included a one-on-one interview with CBS Sports, Kliavkoff portrayed anger, compassion, bravado and optimism. In the end, there should be some sympathy.

“I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend grenades from every corner of the Big 12,” he said during the media day kickoff. “I get why they’re scared. I get why they’re trying to destabilize us. I was tired of that.”

Kliavkoff is hoping his world would stop spinning. He came to this job as an innovator and change agent at MGM. At the time of his hiring, he was the most non-traditional commissioner in the Power Five, if not the country. Now, insert your level of bad juju here: On June 30, when he got word of the defections, Kliavkoff was one day short of the anniversary of his hiring and the beginning of name, image and likeness rights for athletes.

That day signaled the end of the Pac-12 as we know it. The league will likely survive but only in some altered form.

It could pluck suddenly attractive San Diego State (among others) and become the equivalent of a Mountain West Plus.

It could also stay at 10 teams. One Pac-12 AD told CBS Sports that’s “the best and only option.”

Continue reading story here


July 29th

Wilner: Greatest threat to the Pac-12 remains the Big Ten, not the Big 12

From the San Jose Mercury News … As if realignment isn’t nuanced enough, the current wave features a Shakespearian element.

It took centerstage the moment the drama began June 30, when the Pac-12’s former “alliance” partner voted to accept membership requests from USC and UCLA and steal the heart of a 107-year-old conference.

A month later, we have reached the ‘Et tu, Kevin?’ stage of the production.

On Tuesday at the Big Ten’s preseason media showcase, commissioner Kevin Warren announced, boldly and publicly, that the conference would continue to explore expansion options.

“We will not expand just to expand,” he said. “It will be strategic, it will add additional value to our conference …”

Not long after Warren’s declaration, CBS Sports and the Action Network reported (via unnamed sources) Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Cal were on the short list of candidates under evaluation.

The double-whammy heaped another layer of uncertainty onto the Pac-12’s future, making commissioner George Kliavkoff’s meatball surgery efforts that much more complicated.

It also underscored a point many fans have overlooked:

The greatest threat to the Pac-12’s survival is the Big Ten, not the Big 12. The former is a dream destination; the latter is a fallback option.

But for all the smoke billowing from Indianapolis, the Hotline does not believe the situation has materially changed.

Despite Warren’s declaration and the subsequent media reports that named names, the Big Ten isn’t any closer to poaching additional Pac-12 schools than it was a week ago.

Instead, the next step in this drama hinges on Notre Dame. And NBC.

In the interest of transparency — and because realignment is as fluid as it is complex — the following should be considered informed speculation on our part.

Here we go …

The most significant news of the week came not from Warren but from Mark Silverman, the president of Fox Sports.

Fox is the majority stakeholder in the Big Ten Network, which, in turn, controls the league’s broadcast rights. (As a source noted recently of the Big Ten, “You might as well call it Fox Inc.”)

On Wednesday, Silverman told The Athletic that the Big Ten’s media rights negotiations would be completed in “the next few weeks” and likely by Labor Day.

There is no indication additional schools will be invited at this late stage, thereby leaving Oregon, Washington and Stanford with limited short-term options and giving the Pac-12 a chance for survival.

(A point we have mentioned previously that’s worth repeating: USC does not want Oregon — or Washington, for that matter — in the Big Ten. The Trojans deftly undercut Oregon’s recruiting efforts and competitive prospects by leaving the Ducks behind in a depleted conference. Why toss them a lifeline to the gilded stage?)

Additionally, fans should pay particular attention to which media companies partner with the Big Ten for the contract currently being negotiated.

The Pac-12 is rooting for ESPN to take a small stake in the Big Ten’s inventory — even better: no stake whatsoever — because the network would have more money and broadcast windows available for West Coast content.

(If ESPN takes a significant stake, that’s bad news for the Pac-12. Very bad news.)

NBC also has an important role to play. Its contract with Notre Dame expires at the conclusion of the 2025 season, and all signs indicate the network plans to retain the rights to Irish home games.

Continue reading story here


July 27th

CBS: Would the Big Ten take Oregon, Washington, Cal and Stanford? 

From CBS Sports … As conference expansion rages onward, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren left us breadcrumbs to follow in recent days. Warren’s hints at further expansion could result in another bombshell that would shake the Pac-12.

The Big Ten is evaluating the worthiness of adding Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington from the Pac-12 to expand its conference to at least 20 teams, sources told CBS Sports this week.

While not confirming expansion activities with those specific schools, Warren told CBS Sports the addition of any teams beyond USC and UCLA (joining in 2024) would come after the current media rights deal is finalized in August.

“We’re not ‘targeting,'” said Warren when CBS Sports directly inquired about the candidacy of those four programs. “Like I said, my focus is on taking care of our 14 institutions.”

However, it’s fair to say statements made during Warren’s state-of-the-union address at the Big Ten Media Days this week have sent a ripple of concern through college athletics that another bombshell could drop. The Action Network first reported the Big Ten’s interest in those programs.

The idea of adding Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington would be to establish a Western bulkhead that would be academically appealing enough for Big Ten presidents to approve further expansion. However, it’s uncertain whether any of the Big Ten’s future rightsholders would find value in such a move.

Financially, those four programs are not worth near the money now expected to be distributed to Big Ten schools with USC and UCLA in the fold ($80 million to $100 million annually). Competitively, though, it would be a lifeline for the Pac-12’s next-best football brands.

… “From an expansion standpoint, the answer is … we’re not in the market, but we’re always looking for what makes sense,” Warren told CBS Sports.

“I get asked every single day, ‘What’s next?'” Warren said during his Big Ten address. “It may include future expansion, but it will be done for the right reasons at the right time with our student-athletes, academic and athletic empowerment at the center of any and all decisions that we will make regarding any further expansions.”

Industry sources tell CBS Sports that Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington would not bring requisite value as the 16 teams that will make up the league in 2024 with USC and UCLA in the fold. That could lead to the four programs taking substantially less revenue than existing members just to have long-term security in the Big Ten.

Continue reading story here

Could USC/UCLA late night home games kill the Pac-12’s After Dark Advantage?

From Stewart Mandel at The Athletic

Stew, recently you suggested the Pac-12’s saving grace may be its ability to provide late night TV inventory (10 p.m. Eastern kickoff times). Now that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is on record saying that with USC/UCLA, the Big Ten can regularly play in that time slot too, is the P12 doomed? USC in the Coliseum at night playing virtually anyone will be more attractive than almost any Pac-12 game.

It means the Pac-12 won’t have a monopoly on that time slot anymore. With BYU joining the Big 12, that conference could have some 10 p.m.-ish kickoffs as well. But unless either or both leagues add more schools on Pacific/Mountain Time, they’re not going to be able to fill that spot every week.

Fox didn’t push USC into the Big Ten to put its games at 10:30 p.m. ET. It wants the Trojans in that Big Noon window facing Ohio State, Michigan, etc. UCLA could be a more regular participant, but I can’t imagine the league making the Bruins play more than a couple of home games a year in that slot. And if they care even a little bit about the athletes’ welfare (unclear), I can’t see them making the East Coast teams play those games, having to either fly back overnight or taking a big chunk out of their supposed rest day on Sunday.

(It would also be a real jerk move to make Penn State fans stay up until 2:30 a.m. to watch their team play, but I suspect that’s very low on the list of considerations.)

But without knowing any specifics yet, Warren’s comment gives us a little hint about that new deal. We know Fox is going to retain the majority of the inventory. To this point it has not dabbled much in that late-night window on big Fox. So is the Big Ten going to be putting those games on FS1? (In which case the Pac-12 would still reach a bigger audience.) Or is this the first hint that ESPN will still be one of the conference’s partners going forward?

If you’re a Big 12 or Pac-12 fan, you should be rooting like heck for ESPN to lose most or all of its Big Ten package so that it will need someone else to backfill it.

Read full story here


July 26th

Big Ten Commissioner :”We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic, it will add additional value to our conference”

From CBS Sports … On the heels of its landscape-altering addition of UCLA and USC, the Big Ten’s leadership is not closing the door on the possibility of additional expansion. Commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days that he gets asked “every single day” what’s next in regards to conference realignment, and he said it “may” include future expansion.

“But it will be done for the right reasons at the right time with our student-athletes, academic and athletic empowerment at the center of any and all decisions that we will make regarding any further expansions,” Warren said. “We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic, it will add additional value to our conference, and it will provide a platform to even have our student-athletes be put on a larger platform so they can build their careers but also that they have an opportunity to grow and learn from an education and from an athletic standpoint.”

The additions of UCLA and USC, effective for the 2024 football season, will bring the Big Ten to 16 teams, which will be on par with the size of the SEC following its addition of Oklahoma and Texas. The move makes the Big Ten the first major conference in college sports to have schools in both the Pacific and Eastern time zones. While the league’s sprawling geography will present logistical challenges with scheduling, Warren made it clear he sees a coast-to-coast footprint as an advantage, especially in terms of content distribution.

“I think the value of being across four time zones for multiple reasons is really important,” Warren said. “We haven’t finalized the financial impact, and ironically this probably will shock you: the numbers and finances associated with it are typically the last thing that I kind of consider and analyze. It’s important for me from a business standpoint, but from a decision-making process standpoint, always look at all the other reasons why, because if all the other reasons make sense, the finances will take care of themselves.”

Continue reading story here


July 25th 

Stewart Mandel: Pac-12 viewership stacks up well compared to the Big 12 (CU drawing better than every remaining Big 12 team)

From The Athletic … Right after the Oklahoma-and-Texas-to-the-SEC bombshell broke last summer, I conducted a frantic research project examining the TV value of the eight Big 12 schools left behind. There was speculation at the time that the Pac-12 or another Power 5 conference would swoop in and invite several of those schools. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen, upon seeing how poorly programs like Oklahoma State and Baylor fare in the Nielsen ratings when not facing the Sooners or the Longhorns.

A year later, the Pac-12 finds itself in much the same predicament following USC and UCLA’s shocking departures for the Big Ten. Given the Big 12 has since stabilized itself with the additions of BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston, there are now rumblings of that league trying poach a combination of the remaining Pac-12 programs.

With the Pac-12 knee-deep in a 30-day negotiation window with ESPN and Fox for its next deal, it was a no-brainer for me to conduct a similar study of the 10 remaining Pac-12 schools’ TV performances. Are those schools worth more, less, or roughly the same as the eight Big 12 holdovers? And does the data support the prevailing notion that Oregon and Washington are particularly valuable brands?

The one regret I had about that Big 12 story is that it only looked at two seasons’ (2018 and 2019) worth of data. That’s too small a sample size. Fortuitously, my colleague Andy Staples (with the help of Sports Media Watch) has since compiled a massive database of every regular-season Nielsen-rated game since 2015 (excluding the statistically worthless 2020 season). This allowed me to not only go deeper with the Pac-12, but revisit and update the Big 12 for apples-to-apples comparisons.

(I did not include BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston in the Big 12’s sample, as they were not Big 12 members at the time and, in the case of the latter three, were largely facing Group of 5 and not Power 5 opponents.)

Both conferences’ home games on ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and ESPNU were included. Unfortunately, no data is available for the Pac-12 Network, Longhorn Network or ESPN+, which began airing Big 12 games in 2019. But it’s still a relatively similar amount of inventory — after removing the departing members’ games, about 52 per year from the Big 12 and 48 from the Pac-12.

Everyone but Arizona and Oregon State averaged at least 1.2 million viewers

Below is a chart of the remaining Pac-12 and Big 12 schools’ average TV ratings, from 2015-19 and 2021. (Games against Oklahoma/Texas and USC/UCLA are excluded.)

1.96 million
1.83 million
1.73 million
1.59 million
1.49 million
1.44 million
1.28 million
1.27 million
1.22 million
1.19 million
1.10 million
1.07 million
1.04 million

That 1.2 million number would get laughed at in the Big Ten or SEC. As Staples recently wrote, Auburn, even with marquee games against Alabama and Georgia excluded, has a median audience that’s twice as high (2.4 million).

But it may be of relevance given the current Big 12/Pac-12 jostling taking place farther down the track.

That 1.2 million average is more than all but two of the eight Big 12 holdovers (Oklahoma State and TCU). Even Oklahoma State (1.28 million) would only rank seventh among the remaining Pac-12 schools. On the surface, that seems preposterous, given the Cowboys, who went 12-2 last season and 57-22 over those six seasons, are light years better on the field than the forlorn Buffaloes (33-42).

But I think I know the answer.

Pac-12 After Dark is a sneaky-big advantage

As much as Pac-12 coaches and fans loathe those late games, they may be the league’s saving grace in its next deal.

While the Big 12 and Pac-12 have the same two TV partners, their deals are structured differently. The Big 12’s leftover eight had far more of their games relegated to the ratings graveyard that is FS1 than the Pac-12’s, while the Pac-12 got more pickups by main ESPN. And that’s entirely because the league is able to place games at 10:30 p.m. ET, when no other Power 5 leagues are playing.

In 2021, Pac-12 teams appeared on 12 ESPN games that kicked off at 10 p.m. ET or later. Those games averaged 1.34 million viewers, and all but two broke 1 million.

Read full story here


July 24th

“Is Folsom Field the university’s front porch? Or the attic, where old memories and past glories gather dust?”

From the Denver Post … You’re on your own now, CU. Conferences? Conferences don’t matter. Contracts don’t matter. Tradition doesn’t matter.

Geography? More than 1,500 gorgeous miles sit between Memorial Stadium in Lincoln and Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Geography is so 2010.

The only thing that matters is television. And whether a network armed with billions wants your football team featured on theirs.

“I do know this, though — that just sitting around thinking what could have been or looking longingly into the past is not going to help (the Buffs) in their current state,” former CU quarterback and current FOX Sports analyst Joel Klatt said by phone.

“They’re going to have to work really hard to map out and carve out a future that will allow them to return to a prominent place within the spot which we all know that they can get to.”

The Pac-12 was a Ponzi scheme, with former commissioner Larry Scott its Bernie Madoff. CU chancellor Phil DiStefano got his university duped, for too long propping up a television channel and a figurehead in Scott while Limousine Larry laughed all the way to the penthouse.

USC and UCLA last week jumped from Scott’s burning plane to the Big Ten, to Mel Tucker Country, on parachutes made of cashier’s checks. Everything promised to CU 12 years ago is slipping downstream the way a flaming dumpster fire does in a flood.

You’re on your own now, CU.

As the new fiscal year dawns, DiStefano and his peers have to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves some serious questions. Starting with these:

Is Folsom Field the university’s front porch? Or the attic, where old memories and past glories gather dust? Where Ralphie runs and the football limps?

“Those who have been reactive have consistently fallen behind,” Klatt stressed. “Proactive movers are generally rewarded, although not all the time. And I would not leave anything, or any stone, unturned.”

Continue reading story here


July 23rd

Wilner: Don’t expect modest (read: Four Corners schools) growth for the Big 12

From the San Jose Mercury News …  Now, one more point about this Big 12 vs. Pac-12 staredown …

The Hotline doesn’t expect an incremental outcome.

Either the Pac-12 schools have a reason to stay together (i.e., a satisfactory media rights offer), or they don’t. And if they don’t, then joining the Big 12 to create a 20-team (or more) superconference is the best option.

We disagree with the notion of modest Big 12 growth.

If all the Pac-12 schools are available, why would incoming commissioner Brett Yormark only take the Four Corners when the real value lies in the Oregon and Washington brands and the Bay Area media market?

I’d argue that Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah, while better fits geographically, make less sense financially than the West Coast quartet.

(In this scenario, the outlook would be bleak for Oregon State and Washington State.)

And if you’re the Big 12 and all these schools are willing to join, then why not add San Diego State (access to Southern California, No. 27 media market) and one other school for even numbers.

Technically, that would qualify as absorption on a grand scale under the Big 12 banner.

But effectively, it would amount to a merger — and the creation of a 22-team super-league that marginalizes the ACC, spans all four time zones, provides immense inventory for media partners, includes a slew of playoff hopefuls and is a version of the structure we laid out three years ago.

Continue reading story here …


July 20th

Stewart Mandel: “The Big 12 absolutely believes they’re in a position to snap their fingers and take their pick of the Pac-12 leftovers”

From The Athletic

Now that the Big 12 ended merger discussions with the Pac-12, is it time for the Big 12 to start poaching the teams it wants from the Pac-12? If so, what are the most likely teams to make the move to the Big 12 now? — Kerry L.

You seem to have a higher opinion of the remaining Pac-12 than I do. For schools like Arizona, ASU, Utah, and Colorado, what would be the benefit to staying in the Pac-12 as opposed to jumping to a more stable Big 12? Everyone knows Oregon and Washington will jump ship as soon as they can, so what’s left of the Pac-12 is just living on borrowed time. — Andrew G.

The weird thing about the Big 12/Pac-12 situation — and the reason I strongly believe they should have merged — is that it’s not clear either is in a better position of strength than the other.

The Big 12 may seem more “stable” in that it already went through its summer of turmoil a year ago and added new members. It’s certainly got a better on-field product right now. But it’s still got all the same challenges it did four weeks ago. It’s still the same league that, according to its own commissioner, lost 50 percent of its value when Texas and Oklahoma left and whose new 12-team lineup does not include a single marquee TV brand. The Pac-12 of course is now in much the same predicament without USC and UCLA, but as Andy Staples’ recent research showed, that league at least has two schools, Oregon and Washington, that draw 1 million viewers per game far more regularly than the top remaining Big 12 program, Oklahoma State.

Everything I’m hearing out of the Big 12 camp is they absolutely believe they’re in a position to snap their fingers and take their pick of the Pac-12 leftovers — like, all the schools Andrew mentioned. And at the same time, everything I’m hearing out of the Pac-12 camp is that, at least as of now, those schools have no real interest in leaving. They’d much rather keep the band together.

A year ago this time the Pac-12 had a chance to take any or all those Big 12 schools (Texas Tech, TCU, Houston, etc.) and passed. Yes, the conference is much more desperate now, but the same hang ups the Pac-12 university presidents had then about those schools’ academics and geography still exist today.

Now, two developments could force the Pac-12’s hand. One, as you mentioned, would be Oregon and Washington jumping ship. But the more distance we get from the Big Ten’s initial move, the more obvious it seems that the conference is just not that into them. Its now-16 members are set to make so much from their next deal (reportedly $80 million a year and possibly more) that those two Pacific Northwest schools would actually dilute shares. And if that’s not an option, where are they going? The SEC? The ACC?

More urgently, the 10 remaining schools are about to find out exactly what they’re worth when their 30-day negotiation window with ESPN and Fox concludes on August 4. If the number comes in worse than expected, some or all of those schools may be on the phone with new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark that night. Though I’d be curious to see what evidence he’ll be able to provide them as to why they’ll make considerably more money in his conference than theirs.

Again, as I wrote Friday, both leagues would gain more leverage by joining forces than vying to become what will be either a distant fourth or fifth priority for the networks. But I get it. It’s more fun to try to pilfer your competitors than join forces.


July 19th

Wilner: Why San Diego State is the “obvious expansion option” for the Pac-12

From the San Jose Mercury News … The array of lifeboats available for the Pac-12 seemingly has been reduced by one.

The conference is no longer discussing a merger or alliance with the Big 12, according to an ESPN report Monday night.

In the realignment game, nothing is official until it’s official — and sometimes not even then.

But if we presume the leagues don’t reconsider a partnership, the Pac-12 seemingly is left with three paths to survival:

— Join forces with the ACC under an ESPN media rights umbrella.

— Stick together (without the ACC) as a 10-school conference.

— Stick together (without the ACC) and expand.

If expansion is the preferred outcome, one school stands as the obvious addition: San Diego State.

The Aztecs have been preparing for this opportunity for a decade and borrowed from the expansion blueprint used by Utah, which spent years readying itself for the moment the Pac-12 called.

Here are five reasons the Aztecs make so much sense for the conference:

1. The competitive factor

Admittedly, we don’t have a good handle on San Diego State’s Olympic sports, but it doesn’t matter. Realignment is about football, men’s basketball, and football.

Also, football.

On the field, the Aztecs are 6-1 against the Pac-12 since 2017, with wins over Utah, ASU, UCLA, Stanford and Arizona. (Interesting side note … the only loss in that span was to Colorado. Not a surprise that Wilner didn’t bother to point that out). 

They have won at least 10 games in five of the past six seasons (excluding 2020) and were ranked in the end-of-year AP poll in 2016 and 2021.

While SDSU hasn’t reached the same level of success as Cincinnati — or Boise State under Chris Petersen — the program is on the next tier.

Add the resources and cache that would come with Pac-12 membership, and the Aztecs would more than hold their own on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, the men’s basketball program is plenty worthy of an invitation, having qualified for the NCAAs in nine of the past 12 years. (Had COVID not intervened, the Aztecs would have been a No. 1 or 2 seed in the 2020 tournament.)

Also, have you seen the state of Pac-12 basketball lately? SDSU would enhance the overall product.

2. The exposure factor

The Pac-12 desperately needs SDSU in order to maintain a presence in the greater Southern California region, both for media exposure and a recruiting foothold.

Put another way: Without the Aztecs, the conference won’t have a campus within 300 miles of the talent pool that fuels its roster building — all while the Big Ten will have greater access once USC and UCLA begin play in 2024.

In that case, the Pac-12 might as well be the Big 12.

But there’s a second piece to consider: Home to 3.3 million people, San Diego County itself is a vital recruiting zone for the conference.

The area has produced some of the greatest players in Pac-12 history, including Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush, Junior Seau and Lincoln Kennedy, plus John Lynch and Eric Allen.

The list of San Diego prospects who didn’t play in the Pac-12 includes Terrell Davis, Alex Smith, Ricky Williams and Rashaan Salaam.

Not only would membership boost SDSU’s local recruiting efforts, it would strengthen the Pac-12’s connection to the area.

Continue reading story here


July 18th

Canzano: Can California regents force UCLA to share windfall as a subsidy for Cal? 

From John Canzano … I was skeptical when I heard politicians might get involved and try to block UCLA’s departure to the Big Ten Conference. But the more I talk with lawmakers, the more I believe the Bruins’ biggest athletic battle this season will take place in Sacramento.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t happy that he didn’t know about UCLA’s departure. Maybe it’s posturing, maybe not. But what’s clear is that Newsom is fired up and wondering why the move wasn’t discussed and debated with the University of California Regents.

More than one athletic department source at UCLA confessed to me that they were surprised the defection news didn’t leak before the announcement.

Mike Baumgartner is a former State Senator in Washington. He’s served on a variety of educational and sports committees. He’s closely following all of this and sees some trouble forming on the horizon for the Bruins.

“The UC Regents themselves didn’t know what UCLA was up to and no public vote was taken,” Baumgartner said. “It’s still unclear what the majority of them think, but they could do anything from stop it outright to vote to make UCLA athletics subsidize any financial damage to Cal.”

A subsidy would be an interesting compromise. It would penalize UCLA and bolster Cal, but it wouldn’t ease the anxiety of the bondholders of the UC system. They might still litigate. The Bruins stand to rake in somewhere between $75 million to $100 million in annual media rights revenue under the Big Ten’s TV deal with Fox. Would having to share that windfall with Cal give UCLA pause? Or just serve as a speed bump on the road to the Midwest?

Continue reading story here

How bad is the media rights gap? The Pac-12 would need a huge increase from current contract just to get to half of the Big Ten’s deal

From CBS Sports

Conference realignment news & notes

SEC presidents aren’t keen to move beyond 16 teams at this moment. That suggests any decision Notre Dame makes about the Big Ten is going to be isolated and will not necessarily impact the SEC.

That focuses attention back on Oregon and Washington, the two biggest “available” pieces. The reason they’re not already atop the Big 12 list is because they believe they have options centered around the Big Ten. One problem? Multiple sources tell CBS Sports neither the Ducks nor Huskies nor the pair bring enough value to the Big Ten (in the $80 million to $100 million range per year).

Even if the Big Ten is not open for business, why would Oregon or Washington sign a grant of rights with the Pac-12 knowing the conference is vulnerable? That’s how the Pac-12 got in this predicament: Former commissioner Larry Scott signed a 12-year deal in 2012 that appeared lucrative at the time but locked the conference into below-market valuation.

Some have suggested, wherever the schools end up, they be allowed an “out” in the grant of rights contract should an eventual offer come from the Big Ten. But why would any conference knowingly devalue the main source of its revenue?

Regarding the Pac-12, ESPN and/or Fox don’t necessarily want to overspend on a property they’ve already decided is far less valuable than the Big Ten and SEC. It’s also no sure thing ESPN gets any of the Big Ten’s secondary rights. If they don’t have the Big Ten, perhaps that opens their pockets for College Football Playoff expansion, the next major college rights deal on the docket (after the Pac-12 and Big 12).

“I’ve sort of refocused my thinking. I think we’re no longer really talking about college sports through the lens of the NCAA, the Power Five,” Hacker said. “College sports is now completely controlled by ESPN and Fox.”

Another example of that widening gap: With the addition of USC and UCLA, the projected annual worth of the Big Ten deal now goes up to about $1.2 billion per year. That means the current Pac-12 rights would have to increase almost 2.5 times ($600 million per year) to reach half of what the Big Ten will be earning. In its latest rights deals, the total MLB contract went up 19%. The NFL increased its rights 63%. The Pac-12 would have to balloon its rights 240% to get to half of the Big Ten.

“They’re not going to get there,” one executive said of the Pac-12.

That kind of delta between leagues impacts ability to hire the best coaches, academic counselors, mental health experts (Ohio State, for example, has a sports psychologist for each of its 36 sports), nutritionists and strength coaches. For starters.

Read full story here


July 17th

Rooney: Options for CU going forward

From the Daily Camera … For now, Colorado athletic Rick George remains steadfast in his confidence in the solidarity of what remains of the Pac-12 Conference.

George did not specifically add the “for now” caveat as he met local media members this week. But he didn’t have to. That part of the equation has been a given since the Pac-12 was gut-punched by the sudden defection of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten more than two weeks ago.

Anything can change on any given day. One phone call, one enticing offer to league rivals like Washington and/or Oregon, and the solidarity into which George professed his faith — “The ADs are aligned on where we think this needs to go” — will vanish even more quickly than the Pac-12’s footprint in Los Angeles.

Amid all this debate and speculation regarding the future of Colorado athletics and the Pac-12, what exactly is the best potential fit for the Buffs? The obvious answer, and the one folks like George are driving toward, is, essentially, “Whatever pays the best.” As always, this will come down the (football) bottom line.

Still, the speculation part is fun. Here are the CU-centric pros and cons among the more viable options on the table.

Staying put …

Big 12 merger …

ACC merger …

Read full story here


July 16th

Big 12 Commissioner: “We’re going to look at opportunities, expansion being one”

From The Athletic … Brett Yormark was named the new commissioner of the Big 12 on June 29. He got a quick and valuable lesson in the volatility of the business he was entering on the very next day, when the Big Ten swiped USC and UCLA from the Pac-12.

You would think that, for a CEO who hasn’t spent his career in college athletics, that stunning news and the message it sends about another incoming round of realignment would be a startling introduction to the job. For Yormark, though, this chaos was welcomed.

“I was excited by it in many respects,” Yormark said, “because I saw there was opportunity.”

In his debut appearance at Big 12 media days, his first public appearance since accepting the job, Yormark declared his conference is open for business and exploring its options for expansion. He said he’s received a lot of phone calls and interest in the past two weeks, presumably from Pac-12 members, and made it clear the Big 12 won’t hesitate to make moves if they’re “additive” to its value.

You’re entering this business at a time where it’s all in the process of evolving, and you get to help guide the direction of where this is all going. How appealing is that?

One-hundred percent. My preference is to disrupt and not be disrupted. And if you don’t disrupt, you will get disrupted. So there’s a balancing act there. I’m excited. … I want to break boundaries. I’ve done that before. I want to do that here. And I think the time is right.

In my last interview, I spent a lot of time with the board talking about opportunities we should explore together, especially opportunities that drive and diversify revenue. And they were very much in favor of it. So we’re gonna go in that direction.

Based on your comments earlier today, it sounds like you see a lot of untapped potential for this conference.

When I talk about open for business, it’s across the board. It’s just a general statement that we’re going to be proactive and we’re going to look at opportunities, expansion being one. But where else should we be spending time and trying to create value? That’s going to be a main theme throughout the corridors of our conference office.

Continue reading story here


July 14th

Desirability Ratings: Measuring Realignment Values (CU 9th in the Pac-12; 57th overall)

From Sports Illustrated … Since the afternoon of June 30, when the college sports landscape abruptly lurched and shifted again beneath our feet, everyone has stewed over what the future will hold. When the realignment tremors subside, how consolidated will the elite level be? How many schools, in how many conferences, will command the highest revenue shares and (at least in theory) the best chance to win national championships?

The only certainty at this point is that the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference are the biggest and richest, pumping up their membership to 16 each in the coming years with the additions of USC and UCLA in the Big Ten and Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC. The question is how serious they are about continuing to get bigger and richer, and which acquisitions might further their power grab. Everyone is weighing options, as the 37 Power 5 schools remaining in the Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Pac-12 jockey for position.

So this latest existential crisis in college sports seemed like a good inflection point for examining who really brings what to the table among the 69 schools currently in the Power 5, or ticketed to arrive in 2023. If you were to blow up every league and hold a draft to redistribute the balance of power, what does your draft board look like?

Maybe it would look like Sports Illustrated’s Power 5 Desirability Ratings—sure to infuriate, possibly to educate. Regardless, this is an attempt to apply some metrics to the debate. We ranked all 69 schools (see below for full list) against one another in five areas, some of which we know move the needle in terms of adding value to a conference, and some of which get a lot of lip service by leaders.

The categories:

  • Football ranking: This is a five-year average of the Sagarin ratings from 2017 to ’21, using only the current and future Power 5 schools. Sagarin’s numbers are by no means infallible, but they do rank everyone and have been in popular use for a long time, so they’ll serve the purpose here. The top school: Alabama, to the surprise of no one. The worst: Kansas, also the surprise of no one.
  • Academic ranking: This is simply the most recent U.S. News & World Report’s national universities rankings, released in 2021. University presidents like to talk about this metric. So do TV execs, when they’re trying to justify moving UCLA into the same league with Michigan and Northwestern. The top academic school among the Power 5: Stanford. The school at the bottom: West Virginia.
  • All-sports ranking: This is the Learfield Directors’ Cup Division I standings for the 2021–22 academic year, which rates performance in 19 sports, with the mandatory sport counters being baseball, men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. The top overall athletic program: Texas, for the second straight year. The laggard of the Power 5: Cincinnati, which didn’t have much to back up that breakthrough football season.
  • Football attendance: This was an average of home-game attendance (via NCAA data) from 2017 to ’21, tossing out ’20 since that season was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. How big is your stadium? And how many fans do you bring to it for home games? Size matters. The top draw: Michigan in the Big House. Fewest butts in seats: Duke, which last year averaged a sad 15,424 fans per home game.
  • Broadcast viewership: This was the total number of football games that drew one million or more viewers: from 2017 to ’21, also tossing out ’20 due to the wide disparity in number of games played across the country. Citing media markets can be misleading; Rutgers being in the New York market doesn’t mean the Scarlet Knights are delivering an audience. The number of games watched by a million or more people better illustrates which teams are actually bringing eyeballs to screens. The program with the most games that reached the one million benchmark: Oklahoma. The programs few have tuned in to watch in recent years: Oregon State, Rutgers and Duke.

The overall top pick in a blow-it-up-and-start-over iteration of big-time college athletics would be Ohio State. The Buckeyes check all boxes: football excellence, quality academics, all-sports success and a massive alumni base/fan following that fills the stadium and watches the broadcasts. They narrowly outscore Big Ten counterpart Michigan.

P5 Desirability Rankings – Most Coveted Schools in Realignment:

  • 1. Ohio State
  • 9. USC
  • 15. Washington
  • 17. Stanford
  • 18. UCLA
  • 22. Oregon
  • 30. Arizona State
  • 35. Utah
  • 41. BYU
  • 46. Cal
  • 57. Colorado – (football rank: 61; academics: 41; all sports: 54; attendance: 43; viewership: 45)
  • 61. Arizona
  • 64. Washington State
  • 67. Oregon State


July 13th

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy: Big 12 will expand to 16 teams at some point

From CBS Sports … The 2022 Big 12 season got underway on Wednesday as Media Days began its first of two days at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The Big 12 pushes unified front

Talking to those around the Big 12, many believe that the league is more united than it was last year. After Texas and Oklahoma announced they were leaving for the SEC, the Big 12 was active to quickly add four quality brands in BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

BYU and UCF had representatives in Arlington, while other league officials spoke highly of the quality of league and competition heading forward. While the issue of expansion will be a continuous one over the next few months, the 12 teams that will remain part of the Big 12 heading forward remain committed to the future of the league.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was particularly candid in saying that he believes the Big 12 will expand to 16 teams at some point. Others were less confident. Regardless, everyone believes the conference is negotiating from a position of strength — especially after USC and UCLA announced their intentions to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

“This is a power struggle for long-term television money,” Gundy said. “The Big 12 is better off today than it was at this time last year.”

Appealing to a new audience

Yormark made his first public appearance during his transitionary period into the job of Big 12 commissioner, replacing the outgoing Bob Bowlsby, and quickly set out his vision for the conference. More than anything, Yormark centered on expanding the branding and marketing opportunities for the conference to best position the league for its upcoming television negotiations.

“I think there’s opportunities to become a little bit more national, to position our brand a little younger, hipper, cooler,” Yormark said. “How do we connect to a youth culture, diversify some of the things we’re doing. I think we have a great opportunity.”

It’s unclear what kind of value the Big 12 can hope to gain in a world without Texas and Oklahoma, but people on the ground are optimistic about the upside. Three teams in the new Big 12 — Cincinnati, Baylor and Oklahoma State — finished in the top 10 last season. Three of the new additions are in the Cincinnati, Houston and Orlando media markets.

Yormark also addressed the potential for multi-platform revenue streams, noting that the 18-24 demographic is not as married to traditional media. However, it remains unclear what kind of plans Yormark could have to enter that market.

Continue reading story here


July 12th

Report: Remaining members of the Pac-12 to announce they will be sticking together

From … Sometimes the best move to make is not making a major move at all.

As USC and UCLA accepted invitations to the Big 10, the college football world was rocked to its core. It left the remaining Pac-12 members scrambling for a resolution and a lifeline, as they were about to begin negotiations on a new television deal. The move ripped millions out of the pockets of Pac-12 institutions as they lost the coveted Los Angeles TV market.

The Trojans and the Bruins will make the move to the Big 10 in 2024. For a brief moment, it looked to be the death of a storied conference. Of course, it will never be the same without USC and UCLA. However, after overtures from the Big 12, numerous sources are telling me that the remaining members of the Pac-12 plans to announce they will be sticking together.

Details are still to be ironed out, as the conference works on a new television deal with full faith behind new commissioner George Kliavkoff. Still, the reality is that it will be a short term deal and the conference has a couple years to figure things out.

Even with this news, a bigger move is likely still in the works. This buys teams like Oregon, Washington, Stanford, and Utah time to bet on themselves and make their brand more attractive as the consolidation of conferences is still in its relative infancy. For teams like Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah, the Big 12 will remain an option. Still, the belief is Utah would rather stay attached to the schools in the northwest and it’s increasingly looking like the feelings are mutual.

Continue reading story here


July 11th 

Separating Fact from Fiction: ACC/Pac-12 Partnership has critics; Big Ten not recruiting Washington and Oregon

From 247 Sports … The next major realignment may happen west of the Mississippi River, where four programs in the Pac-12 South could leave for the Big 12 starting Aug. 1, 2024. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will stay pat for now, however, after commissioner George Kliavkoff asked schools last week to remain patient as he explores a new media rights deal with suitors over the next 30 days. The Big 12 could add those teams, sure, but a newly-hired Big 12 commissioner must also keep eyes on his own programs as the Pac-12 eyes expansion, too. A war is brewing in the Rockies and the Arizona desert, as former NBA executive Brett Yormark matches wits and business acumen with Kliavkoff —  yet another non-traditional hire last summer — over the next year. The ensuing battles in the West may seem like fights on college football’s undercard, but for now those storylines will be the main events. Pac-12 membership has been willing to listen to its leader. Neither conference wants to lose members, and though the Pac-12 seems to be staggering, it does so in its own corner.

Let’s line out where we sit today across college sports in the wake of the Big Ten expanding to 16 teams, with the latest intel from 247Sports’ sources and the newest reporting from across the country.

Is a Big 12/Pac-12 Super Conference the best way to stand up to the Big Ten and SEC?

From the San Jose Mercury News … Eleven months ago, the Pac-12 stood down. Believing itself stable and aligned, it passed on the opportunity to raid the teetering Big 12 following the announced departures of Texas and Oklahoma.

Now, 319 days later and reeling from the loss of USC and UCLA, the conference is vulnerable to a rebuilt, aggressive, potentially merciless Big 12.

But step back, assess the landscape from 50,000 feet, and it’s clear the conferences are far more alike than different:

— Both are preparing to enter the next phase of college football without their top brands.

— Both are far behind the enhanced versions of the SEC and Big Ten competitively and financially.

— Both have expiring media rights contracts (the Pac-12 in 2024, the Big 12 in 2025) that allow for changes to membership, structure and business models.

— Both are, like the ACC, scrambling for ways to secure spots in the expanded College Football Playoff (starting in 2026).

“The best thing (for the Pac-12) would be to figure out something with the Big 12 and negotiate with ESPN and create a channel,” said Patrick Crakes, who operates Crakes Media consulting and is a former Fox Sports senior vice president for programming, research and content strategy.

… The conferences are stronger together, not with one raiding the other but with each embracing a partnership that would add media value, warrant slots in the expanded CFP, marginalize the ACC, span every time zone and create a credible  counterweight to the SEC and Big Ten.

“Both leagues would make more by working together than they would separately,” Crakes said.

“You can say, ‘We aren’t the Big Ten or SEC, but we have seven or eight high-quality teams, and we’re entitled to a couple spots in the CFP.’ Maybe you’re 75 percent of those two, but you could get two or three slots in the playoff.”

Crakes is not directly involved in the discussions involving the conferences and their media partners, but he knows many of the key players, including new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark.

His broad perspective is shaped by the confluence of four events that will catapult college football into its next chapter:

2024: The Pac-12 begins a new media contract cycle
2025: The Big 12 begins a new media contract cycle
2025: Notre Dame’s last year under the current NBC contract
2026: The first season on an expanded CFP

In other words, both the Pac-12 and Big 12 should move their chess pieces in a manner that not only creates media value for the next contract cycle but positions each for competitive relevance in the 12-team playoff.

The Pac-12 could hunker down with 10 or expand membership to create bulk. (If that’s the case, one option seems obvious. “They might conclude that San Diego State is too good to pass up,” Crakes said.)

The Big 12 could do the same and stick with the 12 schools committed for the post-Texas/Oklahoma era, a collection that includes incoming members Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and Brigham Young.

“I don’t think the Big 12 has enough on its own (to be the No. 3 conference),” Crakes said. (The ACC still has Clemson, Florida State and Miami.)

“You add the Pac-12 with Washington and Oregon and the big market of San Francisco, and Utah is really good, then you’re much stronger together. You don’t catch the Big Ten and the SEC, but you can see them in the front windshield if you do that.”

Continue reading story here


July 10th

Rooney: Buff fans will have to live with uncertainty as realignment options are sorted out

From the Daily Camera … For CU athletic director Rick George, chancellor Phil DiStefano, and those in the same position at the nine other institutions trying to figure out what comes next within the Pac-12, the task at hand isn’t enviable. Not that anyone should feel sorry for George. He is paid handsomely ($1 million per year, just in base and supplemental salary) to find solutions to tough problems. That pretty much has been the daily drill for George for more than two years, since Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State and the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic pushed athletic departments across the nation into a battle for survival.

Still, there is a heavy burden on those among the Pac-12’s survivors sorting through the possibilities for what comes next. No one wants to be left behind, and the need to secure one’s spot at the table for the gorging of football television dollars is akin to a great white shark feeding frenzy. Wait too long, and all that’s left is scraps. At the same time, these are decisions that will define athletic departments for decades and impact generations of student-athletes. Some measure of prudence, discipline and thoughtfulness would be applauded if this was almost any other big-money endeavor.

Patience and prudence, however, aren’t the typical traits of college football fans.

In the past week alone, the Buffs and other potential Pac-12 refugees have been linked with a number of scenarios. The week began with the so-called Four Corners schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and CU — linked to a possible move to the Big 12. As the days progressed, so too did the possibilities. A full merger with the Big 12. A sort of scheduling and media alliance with the ACC. Holding ground in the Pac-12 while interviewing prospects for a fresh round of expansion (the league announced on July 1 its Board of Directors approving the search for expansion options).

Read full story here


July 9th

Possible solution for Big 12 to get Oregon/Washington: Offer an out to leave for the Big Ten later

From The Athletic … Realignment is a dirty business, so perhaps it’s time the Big 12 tried to fight to win instead of merely to survive. What if the Big 12 could get Oregon and Washington? That may sound silly on its face, but we’re talking about a league with a new commissioner (former Roc Nation COO Brett Yormark) who doesn’t come from the college sports industry. Unlike a former athletic director, he doesn’t have to worry about shanking his friends to keep his conference ahead. He didn’t know these people before, so he can shank away.

Here’s the pitch. Tell Oregon and Washington they can join the Big 12, but just as a coach might get an out clause for his alma mater in his contract, let them have a clause that says they can leave with no financial penalty if the Big Ten wants them. (Maybe protect the league a little by forcing them to give something reasonable like 18 months notice.) Then use their defection to also grab Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State. If you must take Oregon State and Washington State to get Oregon and Washington because of political pressure in those states, take them and either just get really big or lop off two from the rest of the incoming group. Since the Pac-12’s media rights deal ends in 2024, go to partners Fox and ESPN and ask to begin negotiating a new deal that would begin in 2024 instead of 2025, when the next Big 12 deal is supposed to start. Write in the contract that you understand the payout will go down if Oregon and Washington leave.

If Oregon and Washington wind up staying, that 18-team league probably would be No. 3 behind the Big Ten and SEC in per-school revenue. The Big 12’s current deal (which includes Oklahoma and Texas) already pays more than the ACC and Pac-12’s deals. Oklahoma and Texas will be gone — and in this scenario, they’d be in the SEC in 2024 — but that lineup would be every bit as strong as the ACC’s. More importantly, that lineup can be on the market now.

Every league wants conference affiliation to be a 100-year decision, but if the last 100 years have taught us anything, it just isn’t. If anyone should understand that, it’s the presidents and athletic directors of the Big 12. Their league has been through every conceivable realignment scenario.

It has been clinically dead for a few minutes (2010). It has been minutes from implosion (2011). It has held a dog-and-pony show for potential members that resulted in nothing (2016). It has taken an epic gut punch and then grabbed four new members (2021). So while the presidents of the Pac-12 schools — who are new at this sort of thing — ask for blood oaths to ensure no one ever leaves their league again, the Big 12 should try to offer some flexibility to create the strongest lineup it can right now.

If that lineup stays together, great. If it doesn’t, well, the Big 12 has been through this sort of thing before.

But the conference that always seems to find a way to survive might soon have an opening to buy itself a little more time.

Read full story here


July 8th

Canzano: “Big 12 poaching Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado is dramatically overstated”

From John Canzano

Two things I learned today…

• CONFIDENCE: The talk about the Big 12 Conference poaching Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado is dramatically overstated. I don’t blame the Big 12 for angling and dreaming about possibly adding a Pac-12 university. I don’t blame conference universities for making a contingency plan. But I’m convinced that the Pac-12’s remaining 10 members are galvanized right now.

How confident are the ADs themselves that they’ll stick together?

I asked two.

First one said, “Confident.”

The second said: “Feel very confident — and we have good options.”

• TRAVEL ISSUE: There’s already some soft grumbling about Big Ten coming from the non-football sports at USC and UCLA. The travel for Olympic sports entities is going to be an issue. Former Nebraska AD Bill Moos told me it took a toll on the Huskers’ sports teams. I wonder how much it will affect recruiting. Said one Pac-12 insider: “Might we hear strains of ‘Pat Haden would never have allowed this…’”?

Basketball powers take a back seat to football it times of realignment

From the Daily Camera … It’s the sort of productivity discrepancy that can easily stir professional jealousy within any collegiate athletic department. Yet it’s also the stark reality behind every shift, past or present, in conference realignment.

Pick the cliché, but football pays for the gas, moves the needle and, most importantly, funds the hopes and dreams of every other athlete in every other sport at most major universities. Never mind how football funds the gaudy paychecks of coaches and administrators.

At most big-time athletic programs, there are exactly two programs that don’t lose money: Football and men’s basketball. And as fans once again have been reminded in the past week, the football impact far outweighs even the lucrative frenzy of March Madness.

UCLA (along with USC) isn’t headed to the Big Ten because it is the most prestigious men’s basketball program in the west, with 11 national championships and 19 Final Four appearances. Those two schools are leaving the Pac-12 because networks like Fox want the Los Angeles television market beneath the Big Ten football umbrella. The USC football brand was the key component, even if the Trojans football program moving to the Big Ten currently is further removed from its glory years than the present state of UCLA men’s basketball.

The chasm between the clout of football and the programs that should be throwing the most weight around in many athletic departments is glaring. Kansas won the Jayhawks’ sixth men’s basketball national championship on April 4 and recently posted a run of 14 consecutive regular- season conference championships in the Big 12. Yet coach Bill Self’s future league opponents will be dependent on what’s best for a KU football program that hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009.

It’s a similar dynamic at Arizona. Wildcats basketball returned to national prominence this past year under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd, sweeping the Pac-12 postseason honors while earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona may have reached the Sweet 16, but any change in conference affiliation, or alteration to what is slated to be a 10-team Pac-12 beginning in 2024, will be spurred by gleaning as much money as possible out of a UA football program that has gone 1-23 in its past 24 games and 10-31 over the past four seasons.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little frustration with that,” CU men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle said. “But I’m a realist. That’s the reality. The discussions and decisions that are made on these kinds of things are way above my head. I try to just concentrate on the things that I can control. And right now, that doesn’t feel like it’s a lot.

“I don’t lose sleep over it in terms of being frustrated. It’s just the way it is. It’s reality. Sometimes you’ve just got to resign yourself to reality. That’s what I’ve done.”

Continue reading story here

Pac-12 trying to convince Four Corners schools to wait for media projections before making any decisions

From ESPN … The extent of the Big 12’s discussions with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were overstated in reports this week. But there’s certainly been back channel conversations and interest, as new commissioner Brett Yormark has followed through on his vow to be aggressive. A commissioner can only be as aggressive as his pocketbook, and that’s where the next step comes.

The Pac-12 has basically convinced the four schools being courted to slow down and see what the numbers look like on a potential ACC partnership before they make any decision. “Everyone is kind of waiting,” an industry source said.

If that proposed deal is as financially flimsy as expected, the Big 12 conversations with those four schools could heat back up. If one of those schools breaks away from the Pac-12 and commits to the Big 12, a domino effect could soon follow. And that domino of four schools could end up being six, with Oregon and Washington following for safe ground.

Hence the flurry of chatter this week about media consultants, who are common in conference television agreements. The Big 12 needs to sell schools on a robust financial future, and it has the option of pitching a short deal to the new members to see how it all works. Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado need to decide whether sticking with Oregon and Washington until they are eventually lured away or look east and build an identity facing that way.

The Big 12 is in the thick of those media rights projection conversations, or at least finding the folks to dig them up. It is exploring media consultants to run out the numbers on what the league’s television deal could look like after it expires following the 2024 football season.

With the landscape so volatile and with so many unknowns around streaming, there’s inherent ambiguity on where the Big 12 numbers could end up that far out. Ultimately, the Big 12 is going to get some projections, and so will the ACC/Pac-12. (The Pac-12 is also running numbers about staying at 10 or adding schools, too.)

Essentially, a spreadsheet is going to point to the future. And for the Big 12, the valuations can help fuel the league’s aggression.

Continue reading story here


July 6th

Joel Klatt: “I think that keeping the Pac-12 afloat is a fool’s errand – I think that Colorado ends up in the Big 12″

From the Daily Camera … In the wake of being blindsided by Southern California and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten Conference, the Pac-12 is doing its best to stay together.

USC and UCLA announced their decision last week to leave the Pac-12 in 2024. The conference quickly responded by deciding it will explore expansion. Then came a decision to expedite the timeline for media rights negotiations. There have also been reports of a “loose partnership” with the ACC.

“Those are all like, really, spaghetti at the wall things,” Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt told BuffZone. “That, to me, views as flailing.”

While the Pac-12 searches for answers, what is the best move for Colorado? A dozen years after leaving the Big 12 to join the Pac-12, CU is now forced to evaluate its future.

“I do know that those that are proactive tend to do much better in these types of scenarios than those that are reactive,” Klatt, a CU quarterback from 2002-05. “I know that Colorado has been proactive.

“The Arizonas (Arizona and Arizona State) and the mountain schools (CU and Utah), I think have some real urgency. I think that they want to land something quick.”

“I think that Colorado ends up in the Big 12,” said Klatt, who led CU to back-to-back Big 12 title games in 2004 and 2005.

With Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC, the Big 12 doesn’t have any more teams that are attractive to the Big Ten or SEC, Klatt said, adding, “Which weirdly makes them way more stable than either the ACC or the Pac-12.”

Without USC and UCLA, Oregon and Washington are the marquee schools in the Pac-12. The ACC is led by Clemson, Florida State and Miami.

Whether or not the Big Ten and SEC add more teams, Klatt believes that in the not too distant future, major college football will have four conferences, with the Big Ten and SEC being at the top.

“I think that keeping the Pac-12 afloat is a fool’s errand,” he said. “Whether it’s the Pac-12 absorbing the Big 12, or the Big 12 absorbing the Pac-12, or the three of them – the ACC, Big 12 and the Pac-12 – making two conferences, it’s going to four, max: Two that are going to rule the whole thing and two that are going to be left behind.”

Continue reading story here

Cutting to the Chase: Should college football just go to two 20-32 team super conferences now?

From The Sporting News … This is the end of college football as we know it.

So we’ve been told repeatedly after the Big Ten added USC and UCLA on June 30; a move that pushed the sport one step closer to the super conference model. The belief is going to transform a regional sport into a national brand with a watered-down version of the NFL.

This board-room, TV-driven, cross-county hostile takeovers seemingly has ripped the soul out of a sport that relies on fight songs, tradition, home crowds and irreplaceable college game-day feels from Eugene to Gainesville.

Maybe this is the end, and that’s … fine? To quote “Wall Street” – “Greed is good.”

The truth is the sport went corporate when the Bowl Championship Series started in 1998. The super conference model will better serve the audience. There is only one region that has dominated college football since the BCS era started anyway.

I’m all in on the changes. It’s inevitable, and it’s going to push the sport to the next chapter. The only question is how many super conferences are formed. It could be one that is similar to the Champions League in soccer. It could be the SEC and Big Ten in a two-team model. A four-league model that includes a Pac-12/Big 12 mashup and an ACC that adds Notre Dame once and for all also is a possibility.

It will be good for the game. Here is the prospectus for what the super conference model is going to bring college football in the future …

The conference raids and eventual mergers are pointing to the two super conference model – with the Big Ten in the role of the NFC and the SEC playing the AFC. The four-conference model, with the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12/Pac-12 and SEC also makes sense, but that would be reshuffling the current Power 5. The SEC and Big Ten feel more like a Power 2 at this point, and everybody wants a chair in those two conferences.

Perhaps those schools – a number that ranges anywhere from 40 to 64 – do their own thing and break away from the NCAA. That has been speculated on for years. Those outside the Big Ten and SEC cannot feign surprise if it does indeed happen.

That doesn’t mean the schools left behind or the Group of 5 schools don’t matter. In the super conference model, however, the reality is some of those G5 schools are not going to be able to keep up with the arms race. Fans would still watch FBS-Division II or FBS-Division III. Whatever you want to call it.

Continue reading story here


July 5th 

CU Board of Regents convene special board meeting

Tweet from Brian Howell at the Daily Camera … Colorado Board of Regents will have a special board meeting tonight. Agenda says the meeting is for “Legal advice on a specific matter – Pac 12 athletics update.”

CU Statement: “We are committed to the Pac-12 Conference”

Press release from … A statement from CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano and Athletic Director Rick George:

 CU Boulder supports the decision of the Pac-12 Board of Directors this morning to begin conference media rights negotiations.  We are committed to the Pac-12 Conference and look forward to being an active participant in those conversations.

CBS Sports: Big 12 in discussions to add 4-6 Pac-12 teams (including CU)

From CBS Sports … The Big 12 is involved in deep discussions to add multiple Pac-12 programs as a way to shore up its membership in the wake of the USC and UCLA defection to the Big Ten, sources tell CBS Sports. At least four teams are being considered with the potential for the Big 12 to add more as realignment continues to shake out.

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were mentioned specifically as the teams being targeted by the Big 12, sources tell CBS Sports. There is also consideration of adding Oregon and Washington to make the Big 12 an 18-team league, the largest in the FBS.

A merger of the Big 12 and Pac-12, in some form, is also a possibility.

“Everything is on the table,” said one Big 12 source.

There is “no question” the Big 12 has to be aggressive in expansion, another conference source said.

Despite the Big 12’s attempts, the Pac-12 released a statement Monday saying it would immediately begin negotiations on its next TV contract, intending to go forward with at least its 10 remaining members. There is a possibility more could be added to the mix, according to a Pac-12 source. The Pac-12’s current deal expires in 2024

However, a source familiar with the negotiations said that doesn’t necessarily mean the Pac-12 will all be together “in three months.”

The Pac-12 is expected to enter into an exclusive 30-day negotiating window with current rightsholders Fox and ESPN before entertaining offers from other bidders.

Before the Pac-12’s statement Monday, one industry source suggested the Big 12 should quickly expand with Pac-12 teams then go to market early with rightsholders to get ahead of the Pac-12. The Pac-12 deal with Fox and ESPN expires in 2024. The Big 12’s deal with the same networks expires in 2025.

“All those things have been talked about,” a Big 12 source said.

Adding at least those four schools would extend the Big 12 further into the Mountain Time Zone, creating “travel partners” for incoming member BYU while also adding a rival for the Cougars in the Utes. The Arizona schools are two hours apart and feature Phoenix as a major market acquisition for the conference.

What the Big 12 cannot afford to do, according to multiple industry sources, is stand pat. There is still the lingering question of who even has leverage in adding teams between the Pac-12 and Big 12.

One industry source gave what was termed a slight lean to the Big 12 in being able to snatch teams from the other conference.


July 4th – Happy Independence Day!

Could George Kliavkoff have done more to save the Pac-12?

From the San Jose Mercury News

Could Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff have done anything to prevent the L.A. schools from leaving, or was the revenue gap from the Larry Scott era too much to overcome? — @KwadeSays

The degree to which Kliavkoff is responsible for the conference on the brink of destruction is a topic I have pondered often in the past 48 hours and discussed at length with the Hotline’s A-list sources.

Could he have done more during his year in office to ensure USC (primarily) and UCLA (secondarily) were fully committed? Did he take their allegiance for granted?

To some extent, the answer to all three questions is yes.

It has to be yes because it unfolded on his watch and he was caught off guard.

That alone suggests there wasn’t maximum engagement with the L.A. schools on the crucial issue of conference revenue.

And I would bet heavily that Kliavkoff is second-guessing himself for not having done more, even though everything he did over the past year seemed logical at the time based on the facts at hand.

Or as one conference source said: “I like George and think he’s done a nice job for us. But he’s swimming with sharks.”

One of those sharks is the man who looked him “in the eye” and agreed to an alliance: Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren.

That said, there was nothing Kliavkoff could have done given the hand he was dealt.

Once Fox ran the revenue numbers and whispered in Warren’s ear and the Big Ten opened its door, the Trojans and Bruins were headed to the greenest pasture imaginable.

In the Pac-12, they could have reasonably expected $40-something million per year in media rights starting in 2024.

In the Big Ten, that figure will double, at minimum.

And as we explained on Friday, strategic mistakes made years ago by Kliavkoff’s predecessor set the stage for the schools to leave.

Had Larry Scott gotten the Pac-12 Networks on DirecTV to boost revenue … had he agreed to a shorter Tier 1 deal to allow the Pac-12 to renegotiate its media rights before the Big Ten … had he accepted a lifeboat from ESPN three years ago … none of this would have happened.

So, yes: Kliavkoff has to own this because he’s in charge.

But even with hindsight, we’re at a loss to pinpoint a specific step he could have taken to prevent it.


July 3rd

Andy Staples: Two Super Conferences “Inevitable” (With five Pac-12 teams)

From The Athletic … An athletic director called a few moments after the news broke Thursday that USC and UCLA were finalizing a move to the Big Ten.

“That SEC football tournament idea doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it?” the AD said.

At this point, nothing sounds crazy. In fact, the only thing that sounds impossible is college football’s structure bearing any semblance in 2030 to the sport at the turn of the century. Texas and Oklahoma deciding last year to move to the SEC shook the ground. USC and UCLA deciding to move to the Big Ten opened the hole through the center of the earth. There is no bottom. Anything you can imagine feels possible at this point.

That includes college football’s version of a super league. Last year, when international soccer clubs actually tried to form such a league and after Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions, I took cracks at figuring out which programs would populate a hypothetical college football super league. But that concept doesn’t feel so hypothetical now.

We knew the SEC had created its own gravity by adding Oklahoma and Texas. The question was whether the Big Ten — the only league that can compete with the SEC on the balance sheet — would be willing to use its own gravitational pull to take programs from another league. A few days after the Oklahoma-Texas-SEC news broke, I wrote that the next logical move would be for the Big Ten to raid the Pac-12. I suggested adding Cal, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington. So far, the Big Ten has taken only one-third of my advice. I’m not convinced it is finished. And if it isn’t finished, I’m also not convinced the SEC is finished.

This wasn’t a matter of finding willing partners. If they aren’t Notre Dame, a member of the SEC or a member of the Big Ten, they’re willing. It was a matter of the Big Ten schools choosing to expand. Thursday, we got their answer.

The Big Ten is open for business. The Pac-12 is scrambling. The ACC is hanging on for dear life with a grant of rights agreement that tethers its members together around a more-terrible-by-the-day media rights deal that doesn’t expire until 2036. The super league doesn’t feel like a theoretical concept anymore. It feels inevitable.

We’ll get to the part where we make educated guesses as to which schools make the cut in a moment, but first, we must ponder one thing: Will it be one super league or two?

The operative question now isn’t whether the Big Ten and SEC will pull the programs they deem worth having into their orbit. It’s how they’ll operate once they do. Will they function separately like the AFL and NFL of the 1960s and then have their champions play at season’s end? Or will they merge under a single umbrella and act more like the AFC and NFC do in the current NFL structure?

It’s difficult to imagine those two leagues agreeing on enough points to ever fully work together, but five years ago it was difficult to imagine Texas joining the SEC or the Big Ten driving a stake into the heart of the Pac-12. At this point, nothing feels off the table. And if the Big Ten and SEC were to expand to 20 schools apiece and then shop their media rights together — parceling them out in pieces as the NFL does to various networks — they probably could make an obscene amount of money. The cost per viewer for NFL rights is significantly higher than the cost per viewer for college football rights. Why? Because one entity controls the supply of NFL football. Multiple entities control the supply of top-shelf college football, which gives the networks a little leverage. One entity controlling the supply of all of the best college football could drive up the price considerably.

I know what the historically inclined among you are thinking. Isn’t this like the monopoly the NCAA had on college football TV rights for decades. Wasn’t that stranglehold broken by a 1984 Supreme Court decision after the universities of Georgia and Oklahoma sued? Yes. But the difference is this time the schools involved would be willing participants and disinclined to sue, and the people controlling the sale of the rights would actually understand their value and get the most money possible.

But how would the leagues do that? By keeping the members they have — sorry to those who think Vanderbilt or Rutgers might get booted — and by taking all the others they deem valuable enough. This isn’t as simple as picking the best football brands, though. The NCAA still stages a basketball tournament worth almost $1 billion in annual media rights. Whether the NCAA would continue to stage said tournament is another question, but such a tournament would continue to exist and winning it still would bring significant prestige to a league. So while football concerns will make up the lion’s share, they won’t be the only concerns. Also, this assumes ACC schools find a way to break their grant of rights. At this point, it’s likely at least half the league has its attorneys looking for a way out of that agreement.

It’s unclear how many more golden tickets would get handed out. With the Big Ten and SEC now each at 16 members, they’re big enough to act like two conferences. Adding more teams and then splitting into smaller, more geography-friendly divisions would make them less unwieldy*. The numbers in these matters rarely find ways to be round, so let’s cap each league’s membership at 20.

Here’s how that might look. For the Big Ten, I only added schools that are members of the Association of American Universities.

Big Ten

Existing members






Michigan State




Ohio State

Penn State




New members






Notre Dame


Existing members









Mississippi State

Ole Miss

South Carolina


Texas A&M


New members




Florida State

North Carolina


Continue reading story here


July 2nd

Rooney: Is it time to let big-time football leave the NCAA?

From the Daily Camera … The final shards of that tenuous alliance between the Pac-12 and Big Ten fell to the floor on Thursday, as UCLA and USC made official their defection to the Big Ten beginning with the 2024-25 season. The survival of the Pac-12 hangs in the balance, as does the future of CU Buffs athletics.

Just 11 years after joining the Pac-12, the Buffs might soon find themselves in need of a new conference home. Back then, CU sought out the change. Now change might be forced upon the Buffs.

At this juncture, it’s far too soon to guess what the latest maneuvers will mean for CU. The dominoes surely have not yet stopped falling, and a world of options could be on the table. If Oregon and Washington aren’t also poached by the Big Ten, or someone else, the conference still would have a chance to survive. If not, it’s difficult to envision a viable Pac-12 Conference, particularly in the race for football dollars.

One option to stem the constant upheaval of the college athletics landscape that isn’t getting nearly enough attention is the idea of letting big-time college football break off into its own entity outside the umbrella of the NCAA. It’s football, and the network television partners, that drive these moves. Yet while campus presidents fill the coffers and swim in millions, those with the least say will feel the biggest impact.

Remember that alliance pledge to prioritize mental health concerns? That was a good one. Try explaining that to the basketball players and Olympic sports athletes at USC and UCLA who soon will have to travel east three time zones, play two competitions in three or four days, then fly west three time zones in order to attend class the next morning. Hopefully the added TV bucks brings a few more mental health counselors to campus.

Men’s and women’s basketball being tied to football financial decisions also has become almost criminal. Like the men’s side, Pac-12 women’s basketball takes a hit without the Los Angeles schools. But, again, if Oregon and Washington ultimately stay put, the basketball brands can survive. In the event of a complete Pac-12 collapse, however, some intriguing options for hoops won’t even be on the table thanks to the appeasing of the football god$. A new, restructured conference featuring, say, CU alongside Colorado State, Kansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Kansas State, New Mexico and Wichita State makes zero sense for football. Lump them together for hoops, though, and you have the start of an intriguing league.

In April, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated a split between the NCAA and big-time college sports was “inevitable,” yet he put that timeline in the mid-2030s. That’s a generous timeline in the wake of this week’s news. Let schools chase football gold as they crave. But forcing entire athletic departments to remain tethered to football decisions will spur the demise of traditional collegiate athletics faster than any of the monumental changes implemented in recent years.

Read full story here


July 1st

Statement issued by CU

From … A joint statement from CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano and Athletic Director Rick George:

The announcement of USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten came as a disappointment to all of us at CU Boulder. Despite this news, we remain resolute in our commitment to our student-athletes and will continue to provide them the resources for success both in the classroom and on the fields of competition. 

We have been in constant communication with our fellow universities as well as conference leadership and will continue to work closely as this dynamic situation continues to develop. CU Boulder is a world-class academic institution with elite athletic programs and will continue to be a leading voice in the changing college athletics landscape.

Options for CU in the new era of college football

From the Daily Camera … A dozen years ago, the University of Colorado got ahead of the game by jumping from the Big 12 Conference before its possible destruction (which didn’t happen).

Now the Buffaloes are left to react to the latest seismic shift in the college sports landscape before they get left further behind.

On Thursday, UCLA and Southern California announced they are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. Both schools were officially accepted into the Big Ten, beginning in August of 2024.

Suddenly, the Pac-12, which has already been lagging behind its Power 5 conference peers on the football field and in terms of media revenue, is losing the Los Angeles market and its two most iconic programs: USC football and UCLA men’s basketball.

Colorado and the rest of the Pac-12 now have to figure out what comes next.

The SEC has dominated on the football field and then made a power play a year ago by luring Oklahoma and Texas away from the Big 12. The Big 12’s two marquee schools are set to join the SEC in 2025.

Adding UCLA and USC by 2024 is the Big Ten’s answer.

Combined, those two shifts have made the Big Ten and SEC the big dogs in college sports, while the others — Pac-12, ACC and Big 12 — are left picking up the pieces.

Could CU’s time in the Pac-12 be nearing an end? Possibly. Some of CU’s options include:

1. Stay in the Pac-12: Without UCLA and USC, the key to the Pac-12 staying together is Oregon and, possibly, Washington. If the Ducks and Huskies want to stay in the Pac-12, the conference could stick together. Oregon is a top national brand and Washington has a football program with national appeal.

If the other 10 schools in the Pac-12 — CU, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, Washington and Washington State — stick together it’s likely they’ll look to expand.

Staying in the Pac-12 isn’t a bad option for CU because of the alumni base on the West Coast. However, when CU announced in 2010 its move to the Pac-12, part of the draw was the Los Angeles market and being able to put the Buffs in front of so many west coast alums. Without UCLA and USC, the Buffs won’t be making trips to Los Angeles and there is less appeal to being in the conference.

Of course, if Oregon leaves, the Pac-12 could crumble and leave CU with no choice but to move on.

2. Join the Big Ten: Reports Thursday were that the Big Ten may not be done with trying to add teams. With UCLA and USC, the Big Ten would have 16 teams and its possible the conference could grow to 20-plus.

Although the CU football program hasn’t been elite in a long time, the Buffs have some appeal. Getting into the Denver market and Rocky Mountain region could be attractive to the Big Ten. Plus, it could lead to a natural renewal of the rivalry with Nebraska, and possibly allow CU to continue making trips to Los Angeles.

3. Call the SEC: It’s clear that the Big Ten and SEC will be leading the way into the future in college sports. Both are on their way to becoming superconferences. Although both are now slated to have 16 teams, there is belief that two 32-team superconferences could be on the horizon.

What’s clear is that playing in the Big Ten or SEC would be the most lucrative options for CU — or anyone. So, why not at least call the SEC and gauge its interest in the Buffs?

As is the case with the Big Ten, CU’s place in the Denver market and Rocky Mountain region give the Buffs some appeal. Is it enough for the SEC to be interested?

4. Return to the Big 12: Maybe not the most exciting option, but it might make the most sense if the Pac-12 crumbles and the Big Ten isn’t interested.

It certainly won’t be the familiar Big 12 that CU left behind.

In the spring of 2010, there were reports of the Pac-10 looking to add six Big 12 teams, including CU, Oklahoma and Texas. At the time, it appeared the future of the Big 12 was bleak, with or without the mass exodus to the Pac-10. Ultimately, CU left for the Pac-10 and Nebraska for the Big Ten. Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2012.

The rest of the Big 12 was able to stay together and add two members: TCU and West Virginia.

Now, after losing Oklahoma and Texas, six of the original Big 12 won’t be there by 2024. But, the conference is set to expand by adding BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston in 2023. After the departures of Oklahoma and Texas, that would give the conference 12 schools.

To create its own “superconference,” the Big 12 could look to add several Pac-12 teams, including Arizona, ASU, CU and Utah. Or maybe even merge with the remainder of the Pac-12.

CU already has long histories with several Big 12 schools, such as Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, so there will be some natural rivalries in place.

A move to the Big 12 could also be huge for CU in terms of football recruiting. The Buffs already make Texas a priority in recruiting, but the Buffs could be more attractive to prospects that get to watch CU play every week.

Whatever happens, it’s could happen fast. Reports of UCLA and USC leaving puts pressure on CU and other schools to scramble for the largest piece of the pie possible as they look to the future.

CBS: Realignment not over – “Everybody’s talking to everybody”

From CBS Sports …  Earlier this week, CBS Sports quoted a high-ranking sports TV industry source on the potential for conference realignment: “Everybody is talking to everybody.” That was before news of USC and UCLA broke the internet.

Clemson, Florida State and Miami have a decision to make. Industry sources believe it’s a reasonable expectation that the ACC powers had previously inquired with the SEC, possibly even the Big Ten.

The possibility of $80 million-$100 million in annual media rights trumps anything the ACC can produce through the length of the current TV deal that ends in 2036. However, even a hefty penalty for breaking the grant of rights – rumored to be more than $50 million — could be financed over that period. Those schools would still come out ahead of what they’re making in the ACC.

After Texas and Oklahoma roosted in the SEC, there were only a handful of schools that had options in realignment: Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Miami, USC and UCLA. Along with Notre Dame, USC probably had the most leverage.

“They’ve, for decades, thought they brought more to the Pac-12 than the Pac-12 brought to them,” said one administrator with extensive Pac-12 experience of USC. “They’ve been threatening things for ages.”

Part of Pac-12 football’s charm — beach, sun, weather, mountains, — was also part of its curse. West Coasters tend to go to the beach or mountains first if the local team isn’t killing it. Sometimes, even if they are winning. Football is not an obsession out West. Two of the few schools in the Pac-12 where it actually draws are now in a conference that consumes college football along with a lot of bratwurst.

It is reasonable to ask whether this would have happened if the Pac-12 had been more competitive recently on the field. The league has not made the CFP since 2017.

It has been 17 years since the Pac-12 won a national championship — ironically, USC in 2004 — and it’s fair to wonder whether the league will ever have an opportunity to win another.

At USC, that future became increasingly unsustainable at a school whose alumni felt was being dragged down by the league.

As Pac-12 presidents and athletic directors met Thursday night, there was still the question of whether Oregon and Washington would be next to leave. They’re the two next-best brands in the Pac-12.

Does the Pac-12 have a future?

If the day’s top story is the Big Ten consolidating power alongside the SEC, its second headline is the Pac-12 perhaps going away for good.

We should have been warned when ESPN thought nothing of relegating a partner (Big 12) to second-class status by at least rubber stamping Texas and Oklahoma joining another partner (SEC). For a few tenuous weeks, it felt as if the Big 12 would disintegrate, and then it added BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

The Pac-12’s situation seems worse. With Thursday’s development, the league is in danger of imploding upon itself. Two high-profile sources told CBS Sports this may be it for the 107-year old conference.

Its centerpieces — the Los Angeles schools — has been ripped away. Its next-biggest market is Phoenix where Arizona State is under NCAA investigation for major violations. Arizona is one of the Pac-12’s worst college football programs at the moment with basketball digging out of its own NCAA issues.

For now, there is no interest from the Big 12 to take any Pac-12 schools. When a chance presented itself Thursday for the Big 12 board of directors to discuss these developments, one high-ranking Big 12 official said, “Why?”

That doesn’t mean the Arizona schools may not eventually migrate to the new Big 12. There may be some value with the Phoenix market and being able to expand the conference’s membership to 14. It does mean there is a reckoning coming for the Pac-12 where — for the most part — the appetite for football pales in comparison to the rest of the country.

“We’re not obsessed with that right now,” said Lawrence Schovanek, president of Texas Tech, when asked about realignment on Wednesday, “but nobody has said having 12 members in the Big 12 is the magic number.”

The Big 12 looks rather stable right now.

Oregon and Washington might be next with a jump to the Big Ten likely at least a consideration. That conjures the cringeworthy prospect of some Pac-12 schools then having to join the Mountain West to find a home.

Continue reading story here

Pac-12 issues statement

Press release from the Pac-12 … While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming out of UCLA and USC today, we have a long and storied history in athletics, academics, and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we’re confident will continue to thrive and grow into the future. The Pac-12 is home to many of the world’s best universities, athletic programs and alumni, representing one of the most dynamic regions in the United States. We’ve long been known as the Conference of Champions, and we’re unwavering in our commitment to extend that title.  We will continue to develop new and innovative programs that directly benefit our member institutions, and we look forward to partnering with current and potential members to pioneer the future of college athletics together.


76 Replies to “CU in The Post Pac-12 Era of College Football”

  1. Wilner
    he is so wrong all the time about what happens on the field I dont pay any attention to what he prophesizes off the field.
    Buffs on the field are disgusting enough. Listening to all this conference jockeying disgust me further. Kroger is trying to buy Albertsons. I dont see that as any future in grocery prices. Conference consolidation, along with all the money being doled out, just seems to me to portend more commercials during the game and more cookie cutter football.
    I loved playing football and its what I did the best. Hockey was a close second. I didnt get into hoops until I started playing noon pick up in the CU gym. Baseball? fagettaboutit.
    Avs are back in biz. Tad ball is coming soon. Watching on TV, which , aside from a couple of trips to the front range a year, is pretty much my fandom. Hockey and hoops are more constant action and not all that different in movement. Another another benefit, because of the more constant action, is less time to pack with commercials. Hey ……more power to you if you are a big fan of lawyers, drugs you cant afford, or insurance companies.
    College football…… Is the current financial acceleration sustainable? Not sure how much more time I will continue to watch.

  2. 538 Deep dive is so out of touch. Firstly, there will be 3 Super Conferences… ESPN will secure ACC and PAC to make the 3rd Siper Conference in time. In the short term ESPN will secure BIG 12 and PAC until ACC contract expires and they can create 3rd Super Conference. Lastly 538, Phoenix and Denver are not mediocre markets. Also, that’s the DMV not Arizona and Colorado. What a putz but since he wants to talk Colorado and Arizona… these are two of the fastest growing states with people moving to them. Back to the DMV’s of Phoenix and Denver. They both have the Big 4 NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. This is the most important decision factor for the people deciding teams that will get slotted into Super Conferences. Cross promoting programming (other leagues) on your air to sports fans. 538 you know nothing but here’s something I can assure you people keep moving out of Michigan… you barely have drinkable public water. So, no the Buffs and Colorado are not a reach… they are one of the top picks of teams sitting on the outside of the Super Conference conundrum

  3. Gotta say I hope stuff is happening behind the scenes. I think the PAC 12 now 10 is done for as Oregon and Washington and potentially Utah are destined for the Big10. UCLA and USC need someone close to play. I think the PAC12 is dead, 35mm a year is not enough to keep up with 40 schools making 100mm a year, not at an elite level. So that means the big programs are going to jump. Maybe, rose colored glasses and all CU can position itself as a better team in the next 2 years before everything finalizes, but let’s be real honest that seems unlikely, I am just hoping for bowl bound middle of the pac.

    1. You say: “I think the PAC 12 now 10 is done for as Oregon and Washington and potentially Utah are destined for the Big10. UCLA and USC need someone close to play. I think the PAC12 is dead, 35mm a year is not enough to keep up with 40 schools making 100mm a year, not at an elite level. So that means the big programs are going to jump. ”

      First off, IDK!

      IDK if the PAC10 will just stick together as is, since there are no other schools in the geographical footprint that adds TV market value, it could. Or it could add SDSU and another to get some of SoCal’s TV market back.

      IDK if the PAC10 gets poached in the future by one of the two new super conferences so they can have a west coast presence and as you pointed out USC & UCLA need someone to play.

      To that end, I say why not CU? Yes, they’ve been down, but they still had a great run and with B!G monies they could be there again… And if not the top 3 or 4 on each division need someone to beat, although, I hope it doesn’t come to that!

      But, back to geography, Colorado is a great middle point for the schools out east and the schools out west and I would think that CU’s overall strength as a University, the Denver TV Market for all of it’s sports, would make it a good addition to schools like USC, UCLA, Stanford & UW. If SEC & B1G want national dominance coast to coast they need to break up the PAC12 by poaching more than two teams.

      But, waiting and adding after settling TV for the big boys ($100 mill) and then offering the lesser schools the amount they add, so UW, CU, Stanford coming from the PAC10 at maybe $50 mill after a new deal with a digital deal and streaming included, then get’s an invite at that amount two or three years from now.

      WSU & OSU are the lowest fruit on the vine because of their locations. WSU gets some Seattle market, but UW is the big dog there. The B1G (and the eventual second of the super conferences the SEC) needs to include more west coast schools or USC & UCLA are going to find it tougher than expected; same travel as Hawaii and teams get an extra game for going there!

      Those are the only two to jump to, otherwise just stay together, out west, alone the BIG12 and ACC don’t have anything to offer.

      I wrote a long ass piece on how the 120 schools need to just gang up together and start a new college/ncaa organization with a new charter and by-laws. A league that offers “Real College Football” by geography, compared to the minor league pros the other two are becoming.

  4. Listening to an interview with Whittingham the other day. He is convinced the super conferences will be the future of Div 1 football. He didnt say what form they would take after the SEC or Big 10 but only that he didnt want Utah left out. I dont think you have to worry about that Kyle. Doesnt say much for his faith in the PAC survival.
    What if the big 10 finally corrals ND? They might just take Utah as a number balancer.

    1. The thing with Utah is that they’re playing great football ‘right now’, but what about when Whitt retires…? He’s got just the right conditions in place, but it’s so easy to go off the rails (ala Nebraska) and then they’re back to being a middling team in Salt Lake City. I’m not convinced B1G would take Utah now or ever. Washington and the Seattle market would be much more attractive on so many levels for the B1G, just a better ‘fit’ altogether than anyone else in the current PAC

      1. When you are in the top ten and this year # 4, that makes your market much bigger. Utah has been on the rails now for a few years. The culture is different there than in Nebraska. Instead of death threats to the coach in Utah it is….get back to work… and players

  5. I think the future of college football is with the streaming services. Instead of a TV media market, an important metric will be how many alumni does a school/conference have. The more alumni, the more valuable the product.
    Who is most likely to watch the Buffs play? An alum. And with streaming it doesn’t matter where you live.
    Kliavkoff helped set up Hulu a number of years ago. He will know how to work in the streaming world. I look forward to what he comes up with.

  6. Well now that the big “Christmas in July” media sales event has gone by the wayside, I’m perhaps inclined to think that maybe the Buffs won’t know what their present is until “Christmas in December”. I’m intrigued as to what interest the big streamers like Amazon and Apple have in the PAC. Thank goodness Larry Scott is gone as he would probably be negotiating exclusively with Alibaba to further amplify his pet cultural mission to travel the Silk Road into China.

  7. Pleeeeeeze!!!!! No Big 12
    Baylor will be praying for God or Abbott or whoever to strike their opponents down on the field.

    Lawrence and Manhattan? You will need to find a truck driver to give you some white crosses to keep from falling asleep at the wheel and once you get there Taco John’s is probably the best meal in town.

    I drove through Lubbock on my way back from visiting Mother in law in Mission once. About 10 miles out of town we hit a red dirt storm that reduced visibility to zero. We had to stop anyway because the dirt clogged the air filter to the point the van wouldnt run.

    The most obnoxious kid I knew in high school moved to Stillwater and must have found happiness before he died in his 50’s probably by his own hand.

    The only place I would consider attending an away game would be in Cincinnati as I have cousins on my father’s side an hour away. Maybe we could poach their team for the PAC.

    1. How many away games did you go to in the Pac-12?
      I’ve been to CU games in Seattle, Pullman, Corvallis, Eugene, Palo Alto, Pasadena, and Tempe.
      In the Big 12, it was only Lincoln, Austin, and College Station.
      I wouldn’t plan on too many road trips if CU returned to the Big 12, but if fans are going to the away games at attractive destinations, anyway, what’s the difference?

      1. no PAC 12 away games. Got too many strings attached at home to fly every other weekend. Its not easy to get to Boulder either. No games period during covid. Have a family member with previous serious underlying conditions. I am an attendance outlier.
        During Big 12 I visited Lincoln, Columbia, Manhattan and Stillwater. Still want to go to Austin but now not because of football. Attended an Arizona game pre Buff PAC.
        I do want to get out more if and when it becomes convenient. I would like to revisit the bay area. I lived there for a year and attended the Cal games. Next time a Stanford game. Would like to revisit Seattle too (along with Vancouver). I have been there before for Hockey.
        May get to AZ more for games as some extended family members are considering moving there.
        Bottom line is as much as I like Buff football its hard for me to consider the game only as a reason to travel. I hate flying…..the last 2 times I tried I couldnt. The airline cancelled my flights. One reservation made 2 months in advance. The chaos in the news over the airports has me happy sitting where I am. I live in a place where folks go on vacation anyway.
        Looking into an RV to fit our special needs. Get that and I may couple a game in Oregon with a visit to the coast and cascades.

  8. Again, conference really have no say. Fox and ESPN have a say and the battle is for the left coast, as Fox SKu’s higher on the West Coast. ESPN needs the West Coast. All viewership is not created equal. Yes, SEC, BIG10 games draw more viewers but they play in a more favorable time slot. As well, because they play earlier in the day, the market isn’t saturated as the day wares on there is less and less viewers. As much as I love college football there is only so much one can watch in the day. By the time you get to the PAC After Dark you are reaching Avid sports viewers, gamblers and regional fans supporting their team. Also, trends come from the West and East coast. Advertisers put a premium on the West coast over the East coast as more trends come from the West Coast because of the Entertainment and Digital Media industry. The West coast is a more valuable market for advertisers. ESPN needs a presence in the West Coast, FOX can squeeze them out of the market if they take Stanford/Cal, less so Washington and much less so Oregon. ESPN needs this market. The PAC needs to stick together, not all viewers are equal; Household income of a PAC-12 viewer is on a whole different level then the SEC. Hold tight PAC, make ESPN pay appropriately. Also, California Regents put UCLA in a headlock make it too expensive for them to leave. PAC11 commissioner sell the vision to UCLA.. and secure San Diego State. The PAC is worth more to Fox and ESPN then everyone is giving credit for…

    1. I really think if Kliavkoff takes more of the PAC-12 content digital that will ultimately be the pot ‘o gold. SEC needs to be on cable because their viewers are on cable, whereas west coast viewers are more progressive and selective about what they spend time on (plus the west coast viewer have much higher net worth so they are MUCH, MUCH more attractive to certain advertisers – ie financial firms & services versus a bunch of Bud Light and Doritos commercials)

  9. Listening to ESPNU on xm this morning’s drive. They were talking like the PAC was completely disbanded, dissolved and ditched weeks ago. Just beating it to death.
    I hate ESPN, the SEC, most of the Big whatever. ESPN with white hot hatred but Warren is making up lost ground
    But thats ok
    I still get a kick out of watching the local high school’s 8 man team and eating the homemade sloppy joes at the food stand.

    1. they need content to talk about and right now this is about the only thing people are interested in because it has…. ‘drama’ and ‘suspense’ !!! It’s almost entirely click-bait

      In years past, they’d be talking about in coming recruits no one had ever heard of and each team’s upcoming schedule – pretty boring.

      As much as everyone (including the B1G and SEC) try to make it sound like this is all pre-destined, the wonderful thing about life is that it rarely plays out as expected. The PAC-xx may be on a death spiral of sorts, but what gets spun out and where might just surprise everyone in the future.

      1. …plus CBS is sort of on the outside looking in right now. ESPN/FOX have sucked up all the air in the room and as the SEC leaves CBS in 2024 I would imagine they (CBS) are trying to both diminish the properties of ESPN/FOX while trying to find a foothold themselves back into college football somehow (either through an expanded playoff or getting media rights from the Big-XII / PAC-xx). They are just as ‘desperate’ as the PAC-xx as regards the college football golden egg

        1. So it sounds like the PAC has to decide if an offer from Fox or ESPN is adequate at the risk of losing out to a possible better one from CBS or some other white knight out there

  10. Not paying attention to any of this crap…hear that CBS? until the negotiations are over or something actually happens. whatever it is…just get it over with.
    I’m hoping Mandels stats on the actual game ratings carries some weight in the negotiations as opposed to the “TV households.” and the PAC stays put.
    Not betting against the dollar and/or megalomaniacs like Warren though

  11. Sit down Commissioned Warren, The BIG 10 will do exactly as their paymaster says. You will add the teams we want, you will put kids on longer flights and have them play more games. What a sad man, he actually believes he calls the shots. At least he knows to hold press conference on a Tuesday while the PAC10 does it on. Friday.

    1. That Bug 10 commissioner is a damn liar. The only thing that matters is cash on the barrel. To say anything else is pandering. Whenever they use the term student-athletes I throw up a little in my mouth. The best way to know when these guys are lying is when their lips are MOVING!!

    1. Yup! Until the academia elite, Boulder county Officials, and State reps are called out. Shouldn’t everyone be pissed that CU walked away from half a billion invested into the University of Colorado by Nike. The fact that zero journalists actually do a rehash of the worst decision ever is bizarre. Equally important is the fact that CU could still go back to Phil and meet his requests to see if he has an interest.

      1. That may be true but you sound like one of those old rednecks in Mississippi still fighting the civil war. Phil has spent his life and a lot of his fortune on the ducks. To think he is still chomping at the bit at this late stage of his life to yank it all up and switch it all to Boulder, an opponent of the ducks for years, is looney tunes. Get over it or move to Oregon.

        1. Phi, clearly wanted to move Boulder 27 years ago. Again, because running is his passion and the best runners are based in Boulder. Nobody is training in Eugene. The $500 million is courtesy of Nike and is like you fishing for change under the cushions of your sofa.. it’s none of his fortune. He’s not yanking up anything, everything he built in Eugene is staying and he’s still going to keep dumping $ into the Ducks and he will still keep a satellite Nike campus in Eugene. Again, he did want to move corporate to Boulder… for a reason… the talent is there and he likes Colorado. So, no it’s not Loony Tunes. Phil, can support a lot more than 1 team in the PAC. Moving for Phil and Nike isn’t like you moving out of your parents house…

          1. 27 years ago
            Eugene is now the running center of the USA
            Phil is going to be busy owning the Trailblazers and be Jabari’s boss. That will take a ton of money and time even for Phil

  12. At this point, all of the almost 60 schools left in the BIG12, PAC10 & ACC that aren’t going to the B1G or SEC should just organize together. The ACC could disband and end their grants of rights, under a whole new organization; a new NCAA. They should add the MAC, WAC and smaller conferences too, to really cut off the two big conferences from being able to schedule any cup cakes and/or close easy games. The group needs to co-operate in their scheduling with two main objectives, first is geography & rivalries for their scheduling and second, cutting off the B1G and the SEC from scheduling any games with teams in the the new “Real College” Super Conference. Strength in numbers.

    Drop the NCAA and start a new organization with a new charter that allows them all to agree on common rules and shared values. This spreads out the monies more equally but ensures Saturday college football lives on. Screw Ann Arbor (and their little brother down the road) or all of Alabama!

    This is the key to hurting them the most is, NO GAMES AGAINST B1G or SEC, period I don’t care how much they are willing to pay, how will the networks like it when no one outside of their fan base cares about a bunch of rich teams beating up on each other? How much will all of their cross country travel cost them and how much will the extra travel time hurt their players? Including ALL sports! Hurt them by reducing their opportunities to play lesser teams to pad their wins, and hurt them by taking away easy travel opportunities.

    By the time they get through paying and bribing players to transfer, paying for all of their travel and all, will they still be better off?

    Will America enjoy watching the 100 plus teams just play college football against the team down the road? Keep the games geographically closer and reduce travel cost for teams and fans. Just agree to play by the same rules and let those other teams go their own way. How will the fans of a top 25 team like the fact that they have to travel 2,000 miles multiple times a season to see their team live? How will the stands look when fans can’t travel thousands of miles multiple times a year? Will it hurt the game if the visiting team can’t get as many fans to travel as much do to distance and cost?

    If it takes too long to shake out and gets too crazy the fans are going to give up. USC is going to have a harder time with all travel and big boys, and it’s going to be out right stupid for basketball and other sports. GIVE THEM NO OUT!

  13. CU turned away Nike putting their corporate campus in Boulder. With it a half billion dollars that Phil Knight would have invested in the University. The rise of Oregon’s program and the downfall of CU’s program mirror this decision making. CU is a state school, the State should have stepped in and overridden the Academia elite at CU that wanted academics first and sports second (as if you can’t have a happy blend of both).

    Larry Scott had the right idea of being vertically integrated and the PAC owning their network. He just didn’t foresee that ESPN would lean on DISH and put the kibosh on DISH picking up PAC. Zero distribution. Plus ESPN took it upon themselves to promote SEC at the expense of all other conferences. They took it a step further and crushed the PAC with only negative coverage. It lead to a talent drain as the top kids that traditionally fed into PAC schools went to the SEC. Really, the only recourse was for the fans of other conferences to call out ESPN and not watch programming on their air. That includes sports programs outside of college football. Fans needs to hit them in the advertising wallet.

    Joe Klatt is a shill for FOX, he works for them and thus can’t really be blamed. There is a huge opportunity for the PAC as Cal Regents has some recourse. They can put thumb screws on UCLA and pitch them to stay in the PAC. ESPN covets the West Coast as Fox Sports skus higher on the West Coast and ESPN skus higher on East Coast. The PAC could add San Diego St in place of USC and shore up SoCal tv market. With UCLA in the fold, the PAC would have the LA Market and all SF/Oakland. The PAC should hold tight and pitch ESPN to pay them appropriately until ESPN sorts ACC and the creating of the third bi-coastal Super Conference with ACC and PAC schools. ESPN needs the West Coast and wants to stick it to Fox who had a preemptive strike by slurping up USC/UCLA. UCLA can get out of this and be the big winner in LA market without paying travel fees for all sports,, ESPN just needs to offer a fair contract to the PAC. ESPN needs the PAC don’t budge, just get UCLA and shore of SoCal with San Diego State. Let’s see how many SoCal kids want to do long flights to the fridged Midwest, UCLA and the PAC can be the big winner in SoCal talent pool.

    Lastly, Denver and subsequently the Buffs are a much more valuable maker than Portland and the Ducks. Denver has (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS). Portland haves (NBA and MLS). Denver has a significantly bigger DMV. As well, NFL and college football has the largest cross-over viewership. The Broncos have an avid following. The name of the game is keeping viewers on your air. They promote upcoming games and ancillary programs that covers all the Pro leagues on their air. ESPN is much happier when the Buffs are good versus Oregon. Navigating viewers with your program in is a big value add. College football is just a piece of the puzzle, there is Sunday NFL the next day, the MLB fall classic, NBA and NHL both begin their season, even MLS haves their playoffs in the Fall.

    The PAC is a value add for ESPN, they need to get paid appropriately and if not fans should boycott ESPN and all of its programming.

    Lastly, Phil Knight would still pick up and move NIke’s primary campus to Boulder. His legacy and passion is running and the worlds elite runners are based in Boulder. Will someone please do a story on the worst decision in CU history of telling Phil Knight to pound sand, so Rick George has the ammo to go back to Phil and say, we can’t get this deal done. Eugene will become a satellite campus and Boulder and the Buffs can be the primary campus. Owners of companies want their office where they’d like to live, Phil would like to close out his years in Colorado.

  14. “……..the way a flaming dumpster fire does in a flood.”

    hmmmm…….still cant wrap my head around that one.

    lesssee….If that guy was describing himself it might be:
    a wrecking ball into the china cabinet of purple prose

    Where does the D Pest get these guys?

  15. Wow, again the remaining teams and conferences have zero say. They people buying rights to the next Super Conference and the one before decides which teams they want within reason…. Wilmer knows nothing…. Thanks for the insight, Portland is a far inferior market to Phoenix and Denver. Not to mention that both markets have the big Four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) and Portland haves NBA and MLS. It’s not close. College football is just a piece of the puzzle, they have multiple sports entities on their air, markets with larger DMVs and more pro sports franchises are more valuable. Sorry Portland your out. Wilner you’re a silly man who knows nothing. You’re probably still wearing a mask and have 5 shots. Grow a pair

  16. Been there done that.. Will never go to Manhattan again.. Only thing they got is catfish and carp.. Any leaders out there or u just break off?

  17. Even though he is somewhat like Wilner in that they make predictions based on negligible knowledge of whats happening with 2nd tier teams off and on the field I will give Mandel credit for the most succinct explanation of the current Big 12/Pac 12 positions I have heard to date.
    And then there is the snap our fingers quote. Typical of Texans and anyone who has spent too much time with them. pfft

  18. “but the same hang ups the Pac-12 university presidents had then about those schools’ (Big 12) academics and geography still exist today.“. That in a nutshell is the problem. Big time college football/basketball has nothing to do with academics or geography. It is all about money. If the PAC Presidents don’t get that yet, they never will. These contract negotiations will tell the PAC to seek a merger or individual schools will have look out for themselves.

  19. So having too much time on my hands (apparently), I looked at the numbers in that SI Desirability article. A few things stood out to me as far as CU goes:

    1. Despite being the 61st ranked football team according to that article, CU is 45th overall in viewership numbers. 21st of those not already in the B1G or SEC as of current state of realignment. So the Buffs draw substantially better than their football ranking would suggest. This is the market affect and likely also a factor of our yearly scheduling of non-conference games.

    2. If the PAC and ACC were to merge/align somehow, CU would then be the 14th (if ND joins the ACC fully) in viewership.

    3. If the PAC and Big12 merged or aligned somehow, CU would still be the 14th in viewership.

    4. Solely within the remaining PAC10, CU is 7th in viewership.

    5. Those rankings are based on recent performance by CU. This is inspite of our “boring offense” of the last several seasons. Win and/or become more entertaining to watch, and CU becomes more valuable/desired.

    Let’s hope the team plays inspired football! It will have an impact on what conference CU is in after 2025.

  20. Thanks SI for your clear lack of understanding how the market place works. Keep sticking fat chicks in your swimsuit edition,,, let’s see how low you can drive your circulation. The key metric is “Viewership”. If you cross that football ranking, it’s amazing that the Buffs weigh in at #45. If the Buffs are a top 20 team, they would be top 20 viewership,,, it’s that simple. Market DMV crossed with Denver having 5 pro sports leagues; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS ensures that the Buffs is one of the twenty most attractive teams to the people buying rights of the Super Conferences. Again, conferences aren’t calling the shots.. cross promotional programming and keeping viewers on their air is what matters most. The Buffs are a Top Twenty team. Now go back to Nike and see if they still have an interest in moving their campus to Boulder. Sell the naming rights of Folsom to Verizon.

  21. Thank goodness SI has come to the rescue with its long awaited Desirability Ratings. Ratings that will undoubtedly help universities set their realignment bearings in these ticklish times. On a side note however, as I linked to their Desirability Ratings page I was a bit surprised to see a pop up ad of Flo the insurance lady instead of the one featuring Frank Thomas and Doug Flutie out on the golf course…..

  22. If it’s all about money what is CU waiting for?
    Name one legitimate rivalry game CU has in the Pac(whatever). There isn’t one. The Big 12 makes sense on so many levels. The move should have never had happened. Now it’s time to correct a 12 year mistake

  23. This is an interesting article and really sums up what college football is lacking now: no vision or cohesive sense of direction. No one is leading and so schools and conferences are just chasing money with no clear outline of where they want the sport to go. These short term decisions based only on money are eroding trust between institutions which will make coming up with a coherent and comprehensive plan more difficult. I really appreciated the Reddit post from a West Virginia fan and I can relate. At first it was exciting to play in a new conference but CU never had a real rival. The most enjoyable and meaningful games since CU joined the PAC where against Nebraska. College football needs some real leadership and someone who can set a vision for the sport and I don’t see anyone on the horizon who fits that bill.

    1. That was a good story. Thanks for sharing.

      I saw one the other day, didn’t sure bc have shared similar ones here, where the guy led with art model’s quote “we’re 32 republicans who vote socialist” speaking of the nfl ownership group. And that is what saves the nfl, basically.

      I firmly believe college football has to go that route as well. Not necessarily to save it, but to keep it as relevant as it has been. And, for the benefit of the kids who make it all so fun. And by extension, all the other actual “student athletes” who really are, who could not be, without the money from football and basketball.

      Go Buffs

  24. Out of curiosity it would be interesting to know if CU President Todd Saliman is taking any type of active roll in the daily saga of ~As the College Football World Turns~. I recall back in the days of CU bolting the B12 for the PAC Bruce Benson seemed to appear more involved, prominently noted in various articles and reports. Sure Saliman has only been on the job officially for less than 3 months. Is he actively involved? Is he delegating everything to Phil and Rick? Is he somewhere in the middle? Who knows, except to say that I haven’t heard nary a peep about him and his thoughts on the Buffs future conference/athletics machinations. I’m not making a dig or anything. It’s just that my early read seems to be that Benson, whose background was in oil seemed more involved back then as has Saliman whose background is that of a budget wonk. Maybe to his credit Saliman is too busy crunching conference revenue numbers and lacks the time to make comments on the situation.

  25. The big 12 didnt fold up when CU, Pusskers, Misery. the brown shirts and the marginalized Red River oil barons left.
    PAC shouldnt either. In fact I dont see the LA school’s flight of desperation a “blow to the conference” either. Its an improvement. I would have to have a gun to my head to go back to SoCal again.
    I get depressed whenever I have to fly to that “spic and span” LA EX to change planes. For some reason the pilot always drops in altitude so we can see every bit of urban congestion for what seems like 45 minutes at 300 mph before we finally hit the runway.
    Still….I am not holding my breath

  26. Whew! I’m not the only one who sees college athletes getting a seat at the table. Finally.

    And, if the College Football Playoff doesn’t do it first? It’s likely to be forced on them. The big money guys at the top (from the media and academia and athletics sides) have to see this too, right? Or are they blinded by the coin?

    Now’s the perfect time to think about the future of college athletics, from a holistic view. Will they?

    Go Buffs

  27. “No conference is openly recruiting new schools. ”
    “openly is the hedge word here.” Spoiled children and their crosstown siblings kept it quiet for how long? almost a year?

    “A proposal that would partner the ACC and Pac-12 with ESPN and create a championship game in football between the two conferences is not popular in ACC circles, sources told 247Sports.”
    Who was that politician who would always say, “people tell me….”
    sorry its a halfassed idea from folks in both conferences.

    “Oregon and Washington fans may want to defect for the Big Ten, but the truth is the conference is not interested in either school at this moment. ”
    “People tell me…..”…also see paragraph one again

    not much fact there as far as I can see. Another no value article.

  28. So other than going back to the Big XII, there really isn’t any other play for the Buffs than living with whatever media deal Kliavkoff can come up with. The ACC alliance is a non-starter… due to their media deal they can’t agree to anything in writing. CU (and many of the other PAC teams) should know their fate once the 30 day window closes…. one has to assume (hope?) that Rick George or DiStefano have made (or will make) some backroom calls to the B1G to see if it’s even worth waiting a couple of years in a diluted PAC-10 for a future invite.

  29. Klatt is now a shill for FOX, which I get… they pay him. Sports are regional, especially at the college level. I watch Buff games. I don’t care about Alabama unless we’re playing them. I’m happy to watch highlights from around College Football but I’m not going to sit down and watch a game. The suits at ESPN and Fox Sports just don’t realize they’ve killed the Golden Goose. It’s one thing when CU Academic knuckleheads poo Pooh’d Nike moving their corporate campus to Boulder 25 years ago, basically passing on half billion of Phil’s $ and keeping CU relevant. The fact that we’ve historically hired a lot of inept coaches that ran our legacy into the ground I can stomach that’s on the University… But when Fox and ESPN reduce CU and other teams around the country to JV, fans are going to lose interest. I don’t care about your super Leagues unless the Buffs are in them or have a reasonable chance competing within them or against them. Sports fans around college football will feel the same way. Klatt you’re a shill. Please, CBS or NBC get in the game.

    1. I agree with all of your assertions except about Klatt. He’s always very honest about his opinions. He has told some stories on some of his radio shows that make me think he is probably a jerk but I can’t disagree that Buffs need to get back to the Big 12. PAC is dead in large part due to Scott’s malfeasance and incompetence. No brainer for SC and UCLA to bolt. Buffs can’t be left holding the bag.

    2. you said it. Its all a shill game. And the networks are shills for their advertisers.
      The thing that really leaves me wondering is the money being dumped into their commercials by these advertisers.
      I can not remember if I ever bought something because I saw it advertised on TV. Especially during a Buff game. Just get me back to the game please. I dont need or want an ambulance chaser, a drug I cant afforn anyway and I sure as hell wont buy bud light.
      All it is to me is ever increasing screen time of the chinese torture of moronic commercials like those horribly failed lame attempts to be cute from Liberty Mutiual Imsurance. You cant turn on any show now without seeing 6 of them. “You only pay for what you need.” seriously? With the money these guys dump in to commercials you will pay for what they need. I buy a couple lottery tickets every week in the seperate hope I will never have to give any of these con men money for insurance ever again.
      but I digress
      Pandering to witless based on the Goebbels approach to propaganda must work. Lie to them long enough and they will believe.

  30. Why is Oregon always projected as one of the Crown Jewels of college football. It isn’t, even if it has Nikes purse. Why does everyone think the SEC and B1G are dictating which teams get an invitation… as they are not. Fox Sports and ESPN to date have dictated which teams they want when we moved into the status of Super Conferences. USC and UCLA we important to Fox as FOX Sports SKUs to the West Coast and ESPN skus to the East Coast. The B1G didn’t need to add USC and UCLA but Fox couldn’t have ESPN come in with PAC-12 contract coming up and stealing the LA DMV (TV ratings) and slurping up viewers of all the ancillary sports programming. Fox played defense against ESPN. Back to Oregon. No, other that NIke $s this market is inconsequential, there is one pro sports team in Oregon… the Trailnlazers. Denver which has the 18th biggest DMV and has professional teams in NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS is a much more important market to capture as they can cross promote the games ESPN or Fox Sports have on their air. The name of the game is eyeballs and CU via Denver is infinitely more valuable market than Eugene. The way ESPN and FOX will be thinking about this in the long run is markets with the best DMV and cross promotional programming (other sports teams).

    1. You are correct in that Oregon is no where near as valuable an asset to other conferences as they would like you to believe. They are well funded (above and beyond what would be expected based on long term record and market size), but they do not have the same national appeal that true Bluebloods command. They are in less control of their destiny as football fans seem to think.

      Everyone assumes the SEC and Big10 are dictating things since that is what ESPN and FOX want us to think. It is also what their fanbases want to think and want everyone else to think. Anyone with business sense knows it is the TV money that is driving things. Even if ESPN and FOX aren’t saying that they need to add XYZ school to their conference, they are telling them their value without them and their value with them. Money is talking.

      I firmly believe that both ESPN and FOX are also purposefully feeding the notion that all is lost if you aren’t in one of those leagues, which in turn helps them drive down the price of any other conferences perceived value. When you look objectively at the market, just those 2 conferences (even at 20-24 teams each) don’t have enough inventory to fill up all of what ESPN and FOX would need. This is especially true for ESPN which has to fill out programming for ESPN, ESPN+, ABC (at least for the premier timeslots for CFB), ESPNU, etc. Currently the only teams in those conferences not in the eastern or central timezones are the LA schools. That’s a problem for them. Each timezone has certain DMA’s (Designated Market Areas, aka TV Markets) that become more important to programmers throughout the day, depending on time of day. PAC12 After Dark was not a thing marketed to East Coast DMAs for example. Sure some diehard fans would watch from the East coast, but the point/value in those games was to capture the later West Coast evening tv watchers. I highly doubt that USC and UCLA will agree to always play late games every week so that FOX can keep having content then. That benefits the PAC12 and to a lesser degree the Big12. Not saying that we should keep scheduling late kickoffs, but for value to programmers, it is either PAC12/Big12 teams or they are going down to only Mountain West as options and those don’t carry the desired DMAs that FOX and ESPN care about.
      People also shouldn’t forget about CBS as a potential partner (I think it would be the most logical for any PAC/Big vs ACC games as it supplies them with a reasonable quality game every week (if you schedule them throughout the season vs just all in the beginning) to replace the soon to be gone SEC Game of the Week that ESPN is taking over after the 2023 season.

      Fear not fellow Buffs fans, CU has options. We just need Rick George to make sure he is considering the best one for CU and not just going with what Kliavkov can put together to save the conference and his job.

    1. Well…… You are obviously on something if you believe that can or will happen. I will pay for the paraphernalia if it does. While this would be the move we all hope for, would we ever be able to compete-said to say and I hate it, but resting on our laurels and not investing in the brand and team in the late 80s/90s cost us.

    2. Add San Diego State (So Cal) and Air Force (Consolidate Colorado media) and be done. I’m so sick of College football bullsh*t. Let SC And UCLA schlep across the continent just to never win the conference………. Done I tell you,…… done!

  31. Well since this is a huge crap shoot and only speculation, I will throw in my 2 cents of what could possibly unfold, basically my bet after a week of thought-
    -BIG10 takes UW, Oregon, and Stanford while pushing all the $$$ towards ND to make this happen for the 4th team, ND being the attraction for those 3.
    -SEC poaches the ACC top 4-Clemson, FSU, Miami and maybe VaTech
    -Big12 gets CU, Utah, UA and ASU
    Leaving WSU, the Beavers, and Cal to the MWC.
    WSU and Oreg ST really have no fight in this but to hope the Pac12 survives. Cal just has never produced.
    The only thing saving CU is the Denver market(which they have failed in) and the regionality of the mountain schools and being a central part of Big12 west.
    Going back to the Big12 really is a punch to the face, its better than the MWC.
    And lets be honest….There is no chance in HELL we see an invite to the BIG10, much less the SEC….

  32. I’ve seen reports from both the Big 10 and SEC that suggest they may be pushed to add teams sooner rather than later as a result of the Big 12 and PAC 12 merger/partial takeover. Basically, for both conferences, it could be a time limit in being able to add teams in the later timezones that help spread out the inventory of games that the SEC would be able to provide to ESPN. ESPN has more platforms that they need content for than FOX does, so they are more pressed to get not just more teams, but to have those teams not be in the eastern or central time zones since they already have those covered. Relevance is that is makes the ACC teams a little less desirable (not to mention ESPN would basically be robbing itself since it holds the ridiculous ACC contract already anyway). CU and Arizona St would be the targets for the Denver and Phoenix markets. Most see Washington and Oregon going to the Big 10 if not whatever the 3rd super conference ends up being (consensus is that there likely will be a third one as bulking up the Big 10 and SEC to the point that would kill a 3rd super conference would dilute the value for the teams already in those conferences.
    I think there should really be 3 sets of Div 1 conferences: 1 set for Football, stop making clearly basketball schools pretend they care about football), 1 set for Basketball (some overlap of course, but deserves the same consideration to filter out teams from football schools that don’t really care about basketball and don’t add additional significant TV viewership based on market. Think Kansas St in the football only version and Kansas in the Basketball only version. Both would capture the same TV footprints. Then lastly the more regionally based Olympics sports conferences that we are used to. Keeping them all tied together only hurts the Olympic sports (travel headaches in the coast to coast leagues) and dilutes the value of the football heavy and basketball heavy potential conferences.

  33. So as the walls continue to tumble the television viewing angle for the 8 B10 schools in the eastern time zone are going to hate the occasional 10-10:30 PM games when their teams are in LA for football or men’s basketball…With anguish compounded if OR and WA bolt to the BIG10. Meanwhile If there is any meat on the rumor bone that we, Utah, and the AZ schools end up in the B12 the starting times for ballgames will never be redeye specials. Plenty of mid-late afternoon games on weekends and evening games in the 5-7pm start time range. And a nice little bonus is that ESPN+ carries a ton of BIG12 live stream content presently at the consumer friendly price of $7 dollars a month or $70 dollars a year. I have a hunch that CU, UT, and the desert schools will give very serious consideration if the B12 wants to invite them.

    1. I spent some time yesterday thinking about CU returning to the Big XII and really think it’s the best option… there really isn’t anything George Kliavkoff can do at this point (short of pulling a magic rabbit out of his a$$) to save the PAC. The writing is on the wall.

      It’ll be a bit of a shock for the AZ schools, but the Buffs could acclimate rather quickly and potentially be competitive in football.

  34. A former zealot of Buff athletics whose blood pressure shot through the roof when Baylor tried to blow up Colorado’s Pac 12 invitation a decade ago, my interest in college sports has steadily waned as TV payouts, conference realignments, the transfer portal, and NIL money have tilted the competitive landscape in favor of states and universities to which I have no connection or passion. My son, however, just graduated from Montana State in Bozeman, and I found myself watching and enjoying FCS games much more than FBS. The rivalries, the fans from both teams who live within driving distance of opponents’ home stadiums, and, best of all, the 16 team playoff format made for great drama.

    By all accounts, any further FBS realignment will leave CU on the outside looking in. If that occurs, I don’t think it would be such a catastrophe. Ideally, the Big 10 (20?) and the SEC will form their own Big Pro league, leaving roughly another 84 FBS teams to form a second tier. If that happens, then CU and 83 other teams could create a league with more exciting, innovative football than Big Pro.

    Start with twelve geographically sensible seven-team conferences that play more rivalry games with more fans in the stands because most road games are within driving or short flight distance. Imagine a Continental Divide conference with Boise State, Wyoming, CSU, CU, Air Force, New Mexico, and New Mexico State. Begin the season by playing all six conference foes. After game six, the 84 teams are split into three playoff tiers: The 36 Tier I playoff teams include each of the twelve conference’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. The 24 Tier II playoff teams include each of the twelve conference’s 4th & 5th place finishers. The conferences’ 6th & 7th-place finishers comprise the 24 Tier III playoff teams.

    It would take too long to explain how the playoffs work here – Stuart can invite me to write a guest essay if there’s ever a slow news week – but suffice it to say that every team plays a minimum of two home playoff games and two road playoff games, and the playoffs result in three tiers of neat, clean, end-of-season rankings that are completely decided on the field – not by voters.

    This format is compelling to watch because (1) the season starts with a bang, going immediately into conference play where the first six games matter immensely as teams fight to stay in the top three or even the top five, (2) all out-of-conference games played in the second half of the season are playoff games, and (3) every game in the second half of the season pits teams against opponents of roughly the same win-loss record, so strong teams are tested for the entire final six weeks, while developing teams get to play other developing teams, so there’s always hope for a win. There’s nothing better for fans than to attend a game believing that their team has a chance to win. There’s nothing worse for fans than deciding to go hiking instead of attending a game because they know their team is going to lose by six touchdowns. That’s why I’d rather be Colorado in the Continental Divide conference than Vanderbilt and Missouri and Arkansas and Kentucky and Rutgers and Maryland and Nebraska and Northwestern and Purdue and Illinois and Indiana in their Big Pro league. Fans of those teams have zero chance of ever seeing their teams win the conference in their lifetimes. Create a more entertaining and competitively balanced product from weeks 1-12, and fans won’t care how much money the players are being paid. As a bonus for the players and coaches, the season is over before December finals week, so everyone can actually enjoy vacation.

    1. Great post and love your scheduling idea. I too have lost interest in the current makeup of college football and would love to see CU take a leadership role in forming something new. Not only would your type of regional arrangement be great for football but would be so much better for athletes in other sports. I can’t imagine how difficult travel will be for nonrevenue sports will be with these mega conferences. I think this “lower” tier will see more recruiting potential for non football sports as trying to sell a soccer player on having to travel from LA to Maryland for games might be tough.

      Let’s ditch the pro league and make something that students, athletes and fans can actually enjoy!

      1. This is not my idea, but it was hilarious. Amazon comes in and buys all the media rights, outbidding big fox and secspn, for all of college football. They give the college football players association a seat at the table, providing healthcare, education credits to get a degree if you leave early to go pro, etc. they create ten divisions, called the pac 12, big twelve, big ten, sec, mountain west, acc, etc under one 16-team playoff format.


        Sadly, unlike Phil knight, I don’t think Jeff bezos gives a crap about college football. So, that ain’t happening. Oh well.

        Go Buffs

        1. Amazon makes a lot of sense. Maybe not all of football, but a “choice” grouping of schools. For a fan, you can be anywhere to stream a game. Your Villa on the Amalfi Coast, your tax deduction cattle ranch in Argentina, even with vulgar and scantily clad women in Montana 🙂 For Amazon, you can buy something in an AD right during the commercial simply thru your Prime account. Good times.

          1. Hilarious. I would have to be in that villa to watch. Although we aren’t far from 3 million peeps, an hour or so, we are far enough that we use satellite internet. Streaming don’t take too kindly to our interweb speeds. Yet, at least. But to think apple and Amazon’s won’t bite the apple of college football is to not see the future.

            Go Buffs. Be the ball.

  35. made my move too soon. As soon as I hit the post button I realized poaching the PAC isnt a given. Houston is the 4th largest urban area in the country. Houston and Baylor are ripe for the picking. Baylor especially would like the cash. They would probably take it to the supreme court if they arent chosen and these days, probably win

  36. I guess “Andy” thinks there is no limit to TV revenue.
    If the lower half of these conferences keep dragging their arse on the field I see money grubbing once again taking over and these super dudes throwing out Illinois, vandy, rutgers and some others to sweeten their portion of the pie.
    BTW Andy
    It wont be Utah it Will be ASU…phoenix market. 5th biggest urban area in the country now. The market is king now. Dont mess with the market….or the market money

  37. This is so stupid and the conference leaders are dummies and motivated by short term self interest and not the long term success of college football.

    Building up these mega conferences while holding on to the bottom dwellers doesn’t seem viable anymore (looking at you Nebraska, and soon to be UCLA football). The idea of geographical regions for conferences is apparently obsolete.

    When it comes to football, take the power away from the conferences and create a ruling organization and run it like the English premier league. First division for the best teams and second division for the wannabes. Each gets their own champion. Every year relegate the worst first division teams down to the second, and promote the best second division teams up to the first. That gives some over achiever schools a chance and adds some dynamics to this idea of a static super league forever in perpetuity.

    The conferences can keep all their other sports and remain geographically regional as they are now because they haven’t f-ed them all up (yet).

  38. Well I was looking forward to the pac -12 becoming more relevant w/ Lincoln Riley at the helm of USC…oh well.
    I would like to see a third conference form from the remnants of the Big-12 and Pac-12 (10).
    Realizing it likely would not be on par with Big 10 and SEC it could be a spoiler/darkhorse/underdog conference yielding a national championship contender now and again…
    Sounds like the playoff system could also need adjustment.

    Seismic times in college football, always one of my favorite sports…
    “The future ain’t what it used to be”
    Yogi B

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