The decision heard around the college football world last week inspired more than 200 questions for this week’s Dear Andy mailbag. But in trying to answer two in particular, I had a thought that I would be fascinated to see put into action.
With USC and UCLA gone from the Pac-12 and headed to the Big Ten, Oregon and Washington are in jeopardy and strengthened at the same time. They don’t want to lose their stature, so naturally they would like to go to the Big Ten. But what if that’s not an option? They become some of the best options left on the board, and what they do could determine the future of the Pac-12 and the Big 12. Joe and Jesse each answered their questions from a different direction, but they all lead the two to a potential ruthless scenario depending on how the dominoes fall.
Should Oregon pursue independence if Big Ten membership is not an option? —Joe in Albany, Oregon.
One thing I found interesting last week was the idea that the Pac-12 will try to steal the Big 12. At this point, which Big 12 team would want to leave? Especially without USC and UCLA, is the Pac-12 really a more enviable destination? —Jesse
Notre Dame may hold the keys for everyone, but it’s like Oregon and Washington holding the keys in the Big 12/Pac-12 situation. Obviously, Oregon and Washington would love to join USC and UCLA in the Big Ten. They would also make sense in this league. They are big brands with passionate fans, and the schools are members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. They would also provide travel partners for fellow Pac-12 defectors.
But they clearly haven’t gotten an answer as to whether joining the Big Ten is a possibility. How do we know? Because as soon as the Big Ten said they wanted them, Oregon and Washington would be gone. And if the Big Ten offered a definite no, then Oregon and Washington would move to lock in their respective futures.
Presumably, the Big Ten’s next move hinges on Notre Dame’s pick. If the Fighting Irish want to join them, they’re on board and the rest of the league decides if they want to admit anyone else. But if Notre Dame isn’t ready to make that decision, she doesn’t have to. It is the only school that has an open invitation from every league when it wants. And the Big Ten could just hang around 16 schools waiting for the puff of white smoke or whatever signal the Domers choose to announce their pick.
If Notre Dame doesn’t choose quickly, it could put Oregon and Washington in a tough spot. If the Big Ten aren’t sure they’re done with their expansion, the Ducks and Huskies shouldn’t lock themselves into a long-term deal. But the remaining members of the Pac-12 might want to make a long-term pact that ensures no one else leaves.
Sorry, Joe, but I don’t think independence is a viable option. I’m one of those who’s always said Notre Dame should never join a football conference if they don’t want to, and after last week I think Notre Dame may have no other choice. than joining a football conference. If Notre Dame can no longer be independent, there is no way for Oregon to get out of it. But that doesn’t mean the Ducks have no power. Quite the contrary. If the Big Ten don’t close the door, they and the Huskies have options.
They could hold the Pac-12 together, providing two tent programs for this league – which would presumably expand. Jesse asks which Big 12 schools would go for the Pac-12. All of them would as long as Oregon and Washington were still there. Thus, Pac-12 schools could select the ones that suit them best.
It’s also possible that the Pac-12 and ACC will reach some sort of pooling of rights agreement that could provide the remaining Pac-12 schools with some stability and the ACC schools with some new revenue streams. that might help appease the limbs. who feel they carry all the weight and deserve an unequal slice of the pie. But that sounds very theoretical, and it also sounds a bit like a more fleshed-out version of the Alliance, the partnership formed last year by the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12. “It’s a matter of trust,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said at the time. “We looked into each other’s eyes. We made a deal. The Alliance essentially imploded last week when one league gutted another like a fish. And that tends to happen with these things. In 2010, the Pac-10 held informal meetings with the Big 12 about pooling television rights. A few months later, the Pac-10 tried to steal half of the members of the Big 12.
Realignment is a dirty business, so maybe it’s time the Big 12 try to fight to win instead of just survive. What if the Big 12 could get Oregon and Washington? It may seem silly at first glance, 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 rattling his friends to get his conference going. He didn’t know these people before, so he can walk away.
Here is the field. Tell Oregon and Washington they can join the Big 12, but just like a coach can get an exit clause for their alma mater in their contract, let them have a clause that says they can leave without financial penalty if the Big Ten want it. (Maybe protect the league a bit by forcing them to give something reasonable like 18 months notice.) Then use their defection to also grab Colorado, Utah, Arizona and State of Utah. ‘Arizona. If you have to take Oregon State and Washington State to get Oregon and Washington due to political pressure in those states, take them and get really big or take two out of the rest of the group incoming. Since the Pac-12 media rights deal ends in 2024, reach out to partners Fox and ESPN and ask to start negotiating a new deal that would start in 2024 instead of 2025 when the next Big 12 is supposed to start. Write in the contract that you understand the payment will go down if Oregon and Washington leave.
If Oregon and Washington ended up staying, this 18-team league would likely be No. 3 behind the Big Ten and the SEC in revenue per school. The current Big 12 deal (which includes Oklahoma and Texas) already pays more than the ACC and Pac-12 deals. Oklahoma and Texas will be gone – and in this scenario they would be in the SEC in 2024 – but that roster would be just as strong as the ACC. More importantly, this range can be in 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 simply hasn’t. If anyone should understand that, it’s the presidents and athletic directors of the Big 12. Their league has been through every realignment scenario imaginable.
He has been clinically dead for a few minutes (2010). It was minutes from the implosion (2011). He organized a dog and pony show for potential members which came to nothing (2016). He took an epic punch and then grabbed four new members (2021). So while Pac-12 school presidents — who are new to this stuff — are asking for blood oaths to make sure no one ever leaves their league again, the Big 12 should try to offer some flexibility. to create the strongest formation possible. at present.
If this lineup stays together, great. If not, well, the Big 12 has been through this before.
But the conference that always seems to find a way to survive may soon have an opening to buy some more time.
(Photo: Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)