Hey, Pac-12 … what’s up?
As the expansion world plays out, this should be the most interesting storyline of the bunch. Just how much juice does the Pac-12 have?
I seem to have a higher option of the Pac-12 than most.
The business deals and the overall perception get relentlessly hammered on, but the Pac-12 media deals are stronger than the ACC’s and Big 12’s. The LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver and Salt Lake City markets are fantastic, there’s room for others to join in and be an instant player – Utah was able to dive in and be a factor in football – and the academic side is phenomenal.
The US News college rankings aren’t the be-all-end-all, but if you’ve got four of the 22 best schools in America – Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC – and ten of the top 103, you’re doing something right.
Most of them fit the Big Ten’s AAU requirement – Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State are the ones that don’t – but would a USC or a UCLA really want to make a move that would be every bit as devastating to the Pac-12 as losing Texas and Oklahoma would be for the Big 12?
Maybe. Colorado, though, could be the more realistic power grab if the Big Ten decides it wants to expand the geographic base and also goes after Kansas.
And finally …
Hey, college sports … what’s up?
So what’s going to happen? Let’s call this the wildly speculative educated guess.
The Big Ten stays dead-silent unless it really does have something that’s 92% happening. It isn’t going to panic, and it’s not going to be reactionary.
First, it won’t get into too much of a twist over Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC. The Big Ten can make moves of its own to expand the brand whenever it wants to, and at the end of the day, no matter what, the two superpower business conferences are going to be just fine.
Second, it’s going to do a deeper dive – like it hasn’t done that already – into seeing if there’s any possible way to deal with the ACC’s mega-long media rights deal. It’ll be partly for its own purposes, but even more to see if there’s a way the SEC might keep expanding – Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech make a whole lot of SEC sense.
Again, hazarding an educated guess here, if you’re not hearing anyone say the words North and Carolina – even in an irresponsible rumor way – that means the Big Ten doesn’t have a way to do it.
With that said, if the Big Ten does figure out a loophole, or payout, or some sort of contractual misspelling, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia … it’ll get interesting.
The conference isn’t going to just go grab Kansas if it doesn’t have something even splashier in mind, and that brings us to Notre Dame.
These two just can’t work it out, and just like it’s been in the past, neither one might have to. Again, don’t assume the Big Ten has to do anything. It’s fine no matter what the SEC does, and it’s certainly not going to cheese off any of its current members by giving Notre Dame the sweetheart deal it’ll take to get it done.
The idea of Texas A&M is intriguing, but that’s a ten-miles-outside-the-box philosophical discussion more than anything based in potential.
No, I don’t really think there’s any shot of USC or UCLA leaving the Pac-12, but the move of Colorado to go along with Kansas would be a decent response to the SEC grabbing Texas and Oklahoma, even if it’s not proportional.
Again, think about this from a business standpoint and not about anything on the field. Did Maryland, Rutgers and – let’s be brutally honest – Nebraska after a decent first few years crank up the Big Ten from a competitive sports standpoint? Not really, but it helped the revenue and what the conference could sell.
I know, enough stalling. What’s the Big Ten going to do to expand?
Nothing … for now.
The Big Ten isn’t going to be reactionary, and there’s almost certainly nothing going on that it wasn’t prepared for well in advance.
The Big Ten will get bigger and stronger, but it’ll do it on its own time.