The Conference Realignment rumor mill is still in full effect. Currently, the Pac-12 has been exploring all options to keep its conference afloat after USC and UCLA recently announced their defections on July 1. A recent report suggest those options will no longer include a Big 12 merger.
There had been an rumblings about the two conferences talking about a potential merger for the past two weeks. However, those talks have now broken down, and both conferences will search for solutions separately.
According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, both conferences were mutually interested in a “full merger.” However, the Big 12 ultimately decided to not explore any options further. The conference is still open to them idea of poaching individual Pac-12 schools.
Sources told @CBSSports that within the last 2 hours the @Big12Conference told the @pac12 it is not interested in a full-on merger. @PeteThamel reported first. The door remains open for the Big 12 to invite individual Pac-12 teams.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 19, 2022
The reports of the conference looking to acquire programs like Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are nothing new. Plus, there is optimism it can add Oregon and Washington as well. In fact, new conference commissioner Brett Yormark welcomed the idea during the conference’s media days.
“We are exploring all options and we are open for business,” Yormark said. “I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest. Nothing is imminent.”
Clearly, Yormark believes a merger would not benefit his conference as much as simply poaching schools away from the Pac-12. In terms of public perception, it is the more stable conference. It already has four new members joining the league in 2023 before Texas and Oklahoma leave in 2025.
Meanwhile, the Pac-12 has only ten remaining members without USC and UCLA and is scrambling to fill the void. The remaining schools have publicly committed to staying together, but lack of a certain future is still problematic. With no current media deal for Pac-12 schools to honor to after 2023, it’s a clear opportunity poach those schools.
On the flip side, the Pac-12 has been exploring all options to preserve its existence. A merger would have given the league the needed stability to move forward without its two LA schools. Unfortunately, that is no longer an option. However, all hope is not lost yet.
It is still possible for the Pac-12 and ACC partner on some sort of media rights deal. However, Thamel noted “the financial reality of that potential partnership also projects to underwhelm.”
It remains to be seen what options remain for the Pac-12. However, the conference still holds some notable value in the eyes of some college football enthusiasts.
The Pac-12 is the league more recently raided, but it still has:
* The 2 most valuable brands in either league (Oregon and Wash)
* A TV deal coming up a year sooner.
* The ability to provide 1030 ET games every wk.
Not clear to me why Big 12 thinks it’s better off on its own.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) July 19, 2022
Expansion seems like the best option for Pac-12 survival. The conference could expand by adding perspective Mountain West schools like San Diego State, Fresno State or Boise State. Another drastic idea is the Pac-12 could turn the tables and try poaching members like Oklahoma State, Baylor, and etc.
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff passed on opportunity in 2021. He may be more open to the idea now because the conference is looking to expand. Plus, the Big 12 media rights deal ends in 2024. So, there’s window for the Pac-12 to poach members too.
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