25 Aug Pac-12 to Decide on Expansion by the End of the Week
The latest merry-go-round of conference realignment in NCAA Division I could come to a screeching halt by the end of the week.
Pac-12 Conference Commissioner George Kliavkoff talked to both ESPN and The Athletic on Tuesday, saying a decision on whether or not to expand the conference would be decided within days.
“We’ll announce a decision on whether or not we’re going to be looking at expansion before the end of this week,” Kliavkoff told ESPN’s Heather Dinich. “That decision has been run on a parallel path to the conversations with [Big Ten commissioner] Kevin [Warren] and [ACC commissioner] Jim [Phillips] and the Big Ten and the ACC.”
Also on Tuesday, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC conferences announced an alliance between the three conferences for college football scheduling and other matters. However, the alliance is only a gentlemen’s agreement between the three conference commissioners, and there are no binding contracts.
Concerning the Power 5 conferences in NCAA Division I, the Pac-12 has the second fewest amount of teams at 12. Only the Big 12 Conference is smaller, with 10 teams. Once Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12, the SEC will increase to 16 teams, the Big Ten is currently at 14 teams and the ACC currently has 15 teams, plus a scheduling agreement in football with Notre Dame.
There have been conflicting reports over the past few weeks on whether or not the Pac-12 would expand beyond its current 12 teams. That includes Tuesday’s comments from FOX College Football analyst Dave Wannstedt. Wannstedt appeared on 670 The Score in Chicago and said he was told that Kansas State and Oklahoma State were the expansion targets for the Pac-12. Additionally, Wannstedt also said West Virginia would leave the Big 12 for the ACC and that Kansas and Iowa State would leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten.
Wannstedt also echoed comments made in the immediate aftermath of Oklahoma and Texas agreeing to join the SEC: that the eight remaining schools in the Big 12 are ‘on their own’ when it comes to securing their futures in college athletics.
At this point for Texas Tech, and any of the remaining eight schools in the Big 12, landing a spot in any of the remaining Power 5 conferences is a priority.
However, twice in previous history the Pac-12 (then- Pac-10) was burned when it tried to add schools from the State of Texas. The first in the 1990s at the end of the Southwest Conference, and most famously in 2010 when the Texas Longhorns took it upon itself to arrange for themselves, Texas Tech, Colorado, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10. Texas A&M officials said “No way” after the news broke and jumped ship to the SEC with Missouri. ESPN then paid for the creation of the Longhorn Network and kept the Big 12 intact.
The Pac-10’s consolation prize? Adding Colorado and Utah to become the current-day Pac-12.
Now, 11 years later the Pac-12 is at a crossroads again. This time, I don’t think they add any Big 12 schools. I think the Pac-12 is of the opinion that their new alliance with the ACC and Big Ten is enough to get them a guaranteed annual berth in the expanded College Football Playoff (CFP), and to fend off an SEC takeover of college football.
Meanwhile, Big 12 sources keep telling ESPN that they think they can add schools to replace Texas and Oklahoma, and remain a Power 5 conference. I think that’s a dicey proposition at best, especially since ESPN’s been pumping money into other conferences, like the SEC and ACC.
The Big 12’s current television contract lasts through 2025 and it could be a long march toward the end of that contract for the eight remaining teams in the Big 12, if they have nowhere else to go in the Power 5.
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