Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff kicked off Pac-12 Football Media Day with a statement recapping the previous year for the conference and hinting at what could come next. Obviously, he expressed disappointment about USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten in 2024, but will respect their decision to leave and still recognize them as members until then. However, the one-year commissioner had some choice words to say about the Big 12.
Media members asked Kliavkoff about new Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark’s comments about his conference being “open for business” when it comes to conference expansion. He took the opportunity to fire a poignant shot.
Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff getting feisty: "As to the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that. We haven't decided if we're going shopping there yet."
— Shehan Jeyarajah (@ShehanJeyarajah) July 29, 2022
For the past month, there have been multiple reports about Pac-12 teams looking to defect to the Big 12. It was only recently that Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson called all the defection claims “overblown and exaggerated.” In fact, Anderson accused the Big 12 of originating all of the rumors. That fact was not lost on Kliavkoff’s mind during Media Day.
Later on, someone asked Kliavkoff if any Big 12 schools have reached out to him with interest in joining the Pac-12. He took it as an opportunity to clarify his early comment.
Kliavkoff said he's spent four weeks trying to defend the Pac-12 from "grenades lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12 trying destabilize our conference." He adds: "I get it. I get why they are scared. I get why they are trying to destabilize us." Things getting spicy here.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 29, 2022
Mid-July, the Big 12 and Pac-12 were negotiating a merger (which the Big 12 eventually broke off). Now, it appears the two conferences are at war with one another. It’ll be interesting to see the resolution because both sides believe they have more value than the other.
Although he said they have not considered targeting Big 12 schools yet, Kliavkoff may end up going that direction eventually. He talked about conference expansion in his opening statement, but did not specify any schools. Though, “media value” and “geography” were part of his listed criteria.
Kliavkoff has spent the entire month of July on the defensive. Media Day offered him the first chance to go on the offensive. He may be chanting about more collaboration now, but his fiery attitude towards the Big 12 showed he’s willing to fight back.
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