November 28, 2023

The Big 12 is engaged in deep discussions to add multiple Pac-12 programs as a way to support its membership in the wake of the USC and UCLA split with the Big Ten, according to CBS Sports sources. At least four teams are being considered with the possibility of adding 12 more teams as the reorganization continues.

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

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

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

Another source at the conference said there was “no doubt” that the big 12 companies should be serious about expanding.

An industry source suggested that Big 12 should expand quickly with Pac-12 teams and then go to market early with rights holders 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 these things have been talked about,” a source from the Big 12 said.

The addition of at least these four schools will expand the Big 12 to the mountainous time zone, creating “travel partners” for the incoming member of the BYU with the addition of a competitor for Cougars in Utes. Arizona schools are two hours apart and Phoenix is ​​a major market takeover for the conference.

What the Big 12 companies can’t do, according to multiple industry sources, is stand up high. There is still a lingering question as to who has influence in adding a difference between the Pac-12 and the Big 12.

One industry source gave what was described as a slight tilt to the Big 12 in being able to wrest teams from the other conference.

The difference in value gain between Big 12 and Pac-12 will be “negligible” after this round of reorganization, but in expansion, Big 12 will at least strengthen itself while reducing Pac-12.

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah achieve an average annual value (AAV) that matches at least the 12 members of the Big 12 who are set to remain with the league once they leave Texas and Oklahoma in 2025.

This is one reason the Big 12 expansion has been successful in this case because the conference will not aim to make the media rights segments smaller. It is not yet known if the addition of Oregon and Washington is viewed in the same way by the Big 12.

Of course, all of this assumes that Fox, a half partner with ESPN at both conferences, is even interested in making a deal with one or both of the reconstituted leagues. If not, ESPN may become the primary rights holder, if interested.

There is a relationship to be repaired with the Big 12 after outgoing Commissioner Bob Paulsby alleged last summer a conspiracy involving ESPN, SEC and American. New Commissioner Brett Yorker begins August 1st.

The expected AAV for the Pac-12 dropped dramatically from $500 million a year (about $42 million per school) to $300 million ($30 million) for the remaining 10 teams after the league lost USC and UCLA, according to San Jose Mercury News.

Navigate, a sports and leisure advisory group, Male in March That the members of the 12-team Big 12 will make $52 million by 2029. Other industry insiders have disputed this number.

According to Sports Illustrated, Notre Dame’s “preference” is to remain independent. The potential to earn $80 million to $100 million in the Big Ten might affect this situation, but Notre Dame has left money on the table before — in fact for decades.

The Fighting Irish have historically valued their schedule independence and unique marketing power. If Notre Dame remains independent, the interest will obviously be on Big 12 and Pac-12 in reorganization.

The combination of money and power at the top of the 32 programs in the SEC and Big Ten shocked all college athletics.

What will the playoffs look like in 2026 when a unanimous vote to approve an updated structure is no longer required? Will there be a playoff match?

It is imperative that the 98 Sub-SEC and Big Ten schools try to get as close to the Super Conferences as possible. The ACC is locked in its deal until 2036, assuming there are no splits.

For the Big 12, having the flexibility to increase its earning power, media markets and brands are attractive enough reasons to consider expansion.

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