It might feel like the move of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten Conference Thursday marked the start of another wave of reshuffles, but in reality it was just the next peak — albeit a huge one that still shakes the foundations of college sports — in the wave that started last July.
Like Texas and Oklahoma didn’t dump the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference it is difficult to imagine USC and UCLA feeling they had no choice but to put aside a century of Pac-12 conference tradition in order to remain viable.
While the escape of the Trojans and Bruins from the insecurity of the Pac-12 should not be seen as an isolated action, it can certainly be argued that this is the shift that will drive the transition from a “Power Five” to a “Force Two.” .”
The SEC and the Big Ten are separating from the rest of college sports. They have no peers and will continue to establish that. If you’re not in their club, it doesn’t matter unless you’re Notre Dame, which is why everyone from Eugene, Oregon, to Clemson, SC, to Miami will be trying to make their way to the Ark in years to come.
How exclusive will the Power Two be now that they’re both in 16 schools? What’s the Big Ten’s (and Fox’s) next move? How will the SEC (and ESPN) react? Is the Pac-12 Doomed? Let’s dive into the latest recasting craze.
The Notre Dame Question
Multiple sources told The Times that the Big Ten will not add a new Pac-12 school at this time. It would have been a natural assumption that a combination of Oregon and Washington would follow their old conference brethren, but that’s outside of the Big Ten governance for now. Perhaps USC and UCLA’s preferences – Fox’s priority because of the brands and the Los Angeles market – have something to do with that?
That means Notre Dame will be the next driver in every move with the Big Ten, which the Fighting Irish have long coveted for all the obvious reasons: brand strength, football tradition, academic reputation and location.
If Notre Dame turns down the Big Ten and chooses to remain independent in football and play other sports in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it’s possible the Big Ten will take a hiatus and replace the remaining Pac-12 brands and ACC brands. continues to consider brands that fit the Big Ten model, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech.
But make no mistake, Notre Dame is the ultimate destination and the Big Ten has more to offer the Irish than ever before: a chance to share a conference with historic rival USC, along with other rivals Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State. ; an opportunity to shoot its media rights into a new stratosphere; and a chance to secure itself a rightful place at the table of the power brokers in the future.
Notre Dame must itch. If not, his longtime TV partner NBC has good reason to push him to consider the Big Ten’s offer. According to reports, NBC wants a Big Ten game as part of the conference’s new media rights package.
If you remember that TV dictates all these dominoes, it’s much easier to wrap your head around Notre Dame and say yes to the Big Ten.
Who would join Notre Dame?
While sources are confident the Big Ten is done poaching the Pac-12, that calculation could change if the Fighting Irish comes down to join as the 17th member.
Stanford will become a much more attractive option than it currently is, as the Cardinal represents yet another annual opponent of Notre Dame that the Irish are eager to keep playing.
If you put yourself in the minds of snotty Big Ten presidents and chancellors, Stanford just has a different aura about it institutionally than Oregon and Washington. All types of higher education want to be associated with Stanford. While the soccer and men’s basketball teams are currently down, the Big Ten could benefit from Stanford’s excellence in all sports.
It’s a leap to say that adding Stanford to the Big Ten completely fills the Bay Area TV market, but being in a densely populated region doesn’t hurt either.
The Cardinal would make a more palatable West Coast partner for USC and UCLA than the ducks and huskies. Both schools in LA are fed up with Oregon with its Nike flash entering Southern California and stealing top talent, and USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten has hurt the Ducks.
What can the Pac-12 do?
It cannot be emphasized enough how debilitating losing USC, UCLA and the LA market is to the Pac-12. There’s a reason Apple has reportedly jumped back into the mix for some of the Big Ten’s rights package following the news. A Pac-12 without the Trojans and Bruins will struggle to gain much traction at the negotiating table as Commissioner George Kliavkoff negotiates the league’s next media rights deals over the next year.
The Pac-12 announced Friday that it will actively seek expansion. But who would participate except for schools from the Mountain West?
The Pac-12 probably could have picked from the remaining Big 12 schools last summer. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas and the company all felt rejected by the Pac-12’s lack of interest in what they had to offer. Do you think they will come out here now, knowing that the remaining big name programs will desperately pitch to the Big Ten and probably the SEC?
The Big 12 now has a more stable situation than the Pac-12 and would likely have some success raiding part of the Pac-12.
In any case, the schools in the Big 12 (to which Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston have been added) already know that the Big Ten and SEC have minimal interest and can act strategically to host the third or fourth best conference in the future. build.
Would the Big 12 now be attractive to Arizona and the state of Arizona? We’ll know soon enough.
SEC looking at ACC?
Thursday was not a great day for the SEC and ESPN. Are they now afraid of the Big Ten and Fox? Probably not. Any plans for further expansion will likely be dusted off if they haven’t already.
Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech are all attractive football brands. Linking North Carolina and Duke to Kentucky would immediately make the SEC the premier basketball conference.
The ACC’s media rights agreement with ESPN expires in 2036. The schools received distributions of $36.1 million for fiscal year 2020-21, and given what the Big Ten and SEC are about to bring for their schools, that won’t be enough to keep their top brands happy.
Since ESPN owns the rights to the SEC and ACC, the network should have the final say.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times†