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Realignment Today: As reports surface of a power conference alliance moving forward, at least one of those conferences remains open to expansion

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Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff fields questions during the Pac-12 Conference NCAA college football Media Day Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff fields questions during the Pac-12 Conference NCAA college football Media Day Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. by AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

As the alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 continues to move toward reality, at least one of those conferences appears to still be considering expansion.

The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported Friday that a formal announcement about the alliance between the three power conferences could be announced as soon as next week.

Her report indicates that in addition to making sense from a scheduling standpoint, the potential grouping is on the table because key people within all three conferences still value the college model and do not want to see it destroyed.

That means academics, offering a variety of sports and preserving the idea that those who wear the uniforms and produce the highlights are student-athletes will remain a central mission in all three conferences.

As for the alliance itself, there does not appear to be anything new there regarding the schools that are involved. The Big 12 Conference’s eight others still appear to be on the outside looking in.

But that does not mean things are completely stagnant with regard to those eight schools — or at least a few of them — still trying to make moves to land in a power conference when the new landscape becomes a reality, be that in one year, four years or anywhere in between.

In a recent article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, new Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff indicated that the conference, though happy with the 12 members it currently has, could still be open to the idea of expansion.

“I think we’re really, really happy with the 12 that we have in the league,” Kliavkoff told the paper. “The opportunity to revisit that following Texas and Oklahoma has certainly presented itself. I am not actively poaching any school or convincing anyone to leave their existing conference, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t listening to schools that wanted to go in the Pac-12, and we’ve had a lot of them reach out. Probably all of the ones you would expect and several you’d be surprised by.”

Kliavkoff went on to say that the conference has conducted “initial meetings” with every university that has expressed an interest in joining the Pac-12 or aligning with the league in some manner.

No specific names were mentioned, but Kliavkoff said the conference had formed a working group that handles such activity. That group will be the one to recommend — or not recom-mend — the direction the Pac-12 goes from here.

While such a set up might seem open-ended, Kliavkoff told the Review-Journal that there was a deadline of sorts in place because of his desire to help calm the raging river that currently is the future of college athletics.

“There’s no hard deadline related to any of this,” he told the paper. “But I would say I don’t think it’s good for college athletics given the vibration that’s going on as a result of the Texas and Oklahoma news. The quicker we can dampen that vibration, the better. We will have a decision on whether we intend to expand or not in the next couple of weeks.”

Comments

Steve Hillyer 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Trev Albert also sounded like expansion is possible, it may not be next week or month but with the tv contracts expiring in the next few years it’s possible new schools will be added for the next contract.

Matt Tait 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Good point. He's a brand new AD in that conference, though, so I'm not necessarily putting his thoughts/vision on the same level with a conference commissioner.

The ADs will have a role in all of this, but the heavy hitters — commissioners, presidents, chancellors, boards and TV execs — will be responsible for most of the movement if any occurs.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It will not be any of these who are in voting positions in Big10 Expansion. Only the University Presidents/Chancellors get a vote. This is because the first consideration of any Big10 team is Academics and Research. Ads can only advise, Commissioners just stand by and Fox is not going to fiddle with their Golden Goose, the Big10 Network.TV Execs are currently disliked all over the Nation except in SEC Country. And I assume we are still hoping for Big10 Membership as that is the only Conference that makes any sense for KU.

Spencer Goff 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I have to tell you, I like that he is an old Big 8 guy. He played in the conference in the "good ole days" before it got submarined. He remembers what it was like. That's a good thing.

Spencer Goff 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I've said before the other three conferences will be forced to do something. Administrators all play poker face when they talk about "if anybody out there is a great addition" because it would be stupid business to say "oh we absolutely want this school and that school and we are going to pursue them."

Those administrators know this is the last round they can add schools that, while not Ohio State, are Power 5 and extend their conference reach in a situation where the SEC started an arms race. And that anybody thinks not inviting Bowlsby to a meeting is indicative of their opinions on the schools he represents is being ridiculous. Bowlsby has no place in that meeting 1) based on his recent performance, and 2) he is about to have no bargaining chips or job. In other words, they don't need him there, better to let it fold and roll in the schools you want.

My guess is that KU, Tech, Ok State and West Virginia have homes. I am unsure on the other four and I hope the best for all eight. These schools are too good to be treated like wastewater.

For the record, I really hate all this for Iowa State as much as anybody. Right now they are probably one of the last of these eight to get a big home, and they have probably managed the least resources as well as anybody in the country.

Mike Morris 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't know...ISU has the academic thing (sorry...forget what the proper name is) that the Big 10 requires and a rivalry with Iowa. They'll probably be fine. KSU on the other hand? Not so sure about them. They may be looking at the Mountain West or something similar, IMO.

Spencer Goff 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Iowa State is an AAU school, yes. Again, I hope it works out well for all eight schools. My guess is we see no movement until an agreed upon settlement is reached and OU/UT officially leave. I think everybody, even other conferences, are happy about making them/ESPN pony up.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I'd love to see Iowa State get shafted and relegated to the Missouri Valley or the Horizon League. SCREW ISU!

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Just when I was settling in for a long realignment trip, the PAC-12 drops this bomb!

Well, good for them. Hopefully this puts the Big10 into action mode too.

Brett McCabe 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This is where you are when your millionaire leaders have absolutely no clue. It’s absolutely pathetic.

And Girod?

Everything is fine. Don’t worry about that iceberg you can reach out and touch right now.

How the hell have the Mighty Jayhawks been reduced to begging mode? I know. It’s because the students leave at half time.

Andy Godwin 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Mighty Jayhawks"? Unfortunately, football drives conference realignment and the Jayhawks have never been a perennial football powerhouse - a few good seasons now and then. With an antiquated and half empty Memorial stadium (truly an albatross) and a football program in dire straits I don't think Mr. Goff and Dr. Girod are in a very good position to negotiate with the intact power 5 conferences. The worst thing for the Big 12 was accepting Texas which has tried to run the show from the day they joined and now has run it into the ground. I do hope Leipold has a chance to turn around the KU football program and make it relevant. The Goff and Leipold choices were sound, now time will tell if KU will have a "power 5" conference to call home. The biggest thing to come of all these moves and NIL is the ultimate dismantling of the NCAA.

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

We are at the beck and call of others. Waiting hat in hand for any interest or offer. One eye on hope, the other on the coming darkness of being excluded. Patience will be the rallying cry. Waiting by the phone should someone call, now our daily routine. If only what the leftovers offered meant something. KU, Baylor-now – basketball, Iowa State, TCU- Football. There just is not much else that moves the needle.

All the while Oklahoma and Texas will likely win the B12 Football Crown till they leave. Texas basketball now has a proven coach and are recruiting strongly; they will contend till they leave. Baylor and Kansas basketball will have a say on who wins the Conference at least.

Oh well, there is not much we can do anymore but wait.

  • Does anyone have one of those bells the Salvation Army Santa rings at Christmas?

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the update Matt. Good info as well as comedic relief via the comments.

Bob Strawn 3 months, 2 weeks ago

This feels a little like being the German general prior to D-Day, hoping that there's a settlement where Germany keeps Czechoslovkia and Poland, that wouldn't be too bad; or it forms an alliance with Russians again to ward off Churchill's bombers; but fearing the truth, surrender, and dismemberment.

Jeff Coffman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Pac12 wants texas...baylor, tech and TCU. You could see them add OSU or a Houston.

I still think KU is the most viable of the remaining 8, and should be fine, once the expansions actually occur.

Michael Maris 3 months, 2 weeks ago

While Kansas Athletics doesn't generate the REVENUE stream that the University of Texas-Austin does, Kansas Athletics did generate Revenue to support non-revenue generating sports. Where Jayhawk Basketball is a COMMODITY....... Sure, football revenue streams have been weak. But, if HC Leipold turns the Football ship around. Then, that's an added plus to the Athletic Dept. So, Jayhawks brand has VALUE.... It's Goff's job to maximize the Athletic Dept. revenue potentials.....

Barry Weiss 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I still think that all of the non-SEC conferences need to expand, not just have this scheduling alliance jazz. Go big or get crushed by the SEC. 16 or 20 is the number to go to.

Bj Cassady 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Big12 could still be strong but it has to add BYU, Boise St, Wyoming, New Mexico, New Mexico St, Cincy, Memphis, Colorado State, USAF, Houston, SMU, Tulane, UCF, and Fresno St. These are strong teams that routinely knock off top 25 teams. Make a play for Miami, Louisville. This could be as strong a conference as any. For money purposes you have the states of Wyoming, New Mexico, a lot of Colorado, Idaho, into California, national followings for USAF and BYU. Makes sense moneywise, tv sets.

Jeff Coffman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Big 12 would be more wise to go after Florida, not west, west does not have the TV ratings.

I would do Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast and Southern Florida.

Own the expansion.

Add Houston, BYU, Memphis, and cincy and you get to 16.

i haven't analyzed all the teams, but this gets you to a viable 16 and keeps you East where the TVs are.

I'm sure there are better out there, but this is how I would focus, but in reality Big 12 will go down.

Lee Stanford 3 months, 2 weeks ago

For a Big Twelve expansion, begin by inviting all three service academies into the league: Army, Navy, and Air Force. Every December, the Army-Navy game gets nation-wide coverage as well as broadcasting to armed forces and federal government interests around the world. It would be great to see Air Force thrown into the mix with regularly scheduled games with the other two. All three service academies have fielded very respectable football teams for many years. And as I mentioned, there would be a world-wide interest in all games played by these teams in a major conference.

Then we would add well known up-and-coming schools who were literally knocking on our door back when Big Twelve expansion was last considered: Memphis, Houston, Cincinnati, UCF - and for the final slot in a sixteen-team league, either Brigham Young or Uconn.

West Virginia once requested that we add schools in its vicinity. Adding Cincinnati, Navy, Army, and Uconn should adequately satisfy this.

Clarence Haynes 3 months, 2 weeks ago

West Virginia will try to make a break for the ACC where its natural rivals including Pitt, Syracuse, and VaTech are situated.

Lee Stanford 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I have seen that in a few articles recently. Yet how strongly is the ACC interested in West Virginia? If it comes down to a scenario where the remaining power conferences are competing to grab up the best remaining schools, West Virginia to the ACC could easily happen.

On the other hand, if West Virginia remains loyal to the Big Twelve, why not reward them by satisfying a previous request?

I think that if KU or Oklahoma State leave the Big Twelve, then the conference will not survive. But West Virginia leaving doesn’t sink the ship. In that case, if a Big Twelve expansion were occurring as described in my post above, add Uconn (or perhaps Temple) to replace them.

Temple is another school in the northeast that has fielded decent football teams recently. In the past it has held its own well in basketball.

I have read elsewhere that as relevant as markets (such as K.C., Dallas-Ft. Worth, etc.) may be, equally important will be the sheer volume of interest generated, i.e. people tuning into the games through all the various media now available. In light of this, there is simply far too much potential out there for anyone at this point to be able to declare that the Big Twelve is finished. For starters, the Big Twelve still holds power-5 status. And that can be consolidated through an innovative combination of member-expansion plus new media rights contracts.

Given that competition between ranked teams garners attention, an expanded Big Twelve with membership as listed above would include Iowa State (7) and Cincinnati (8) in the current AP top 25, with seven more teams listed as having received votes: Oklahoma State, TCU, BYU, UCF, Houston, West Virginia, Army.

And as far as markets factor in, the following would be included in this league: Cininnati, Colorado Springs, Dallas-Fort Worth, Des Moines, Houston, Kansas City, Lubbock, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Salt Lake City, and then Philadelphia (if Temple were added) or New York City (with UConn).

Also, having Army, Navy, and Air Force all on board would make our conference unique; it would be a mark of distinction and an asset in many ways.

What I would hate to see would be any form of passive, reactionary, or defeatist approach to all this amongst Big Twelve decision makers. Going forward, a great offense will be the best defense, and there will be safety in (well selected) numbers.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

PROHIBITION ON STATE-FUNDED AND STATE-SPONSORED TRAVEL TO STATES WITH DISCRIMINATORY LAWS (ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1887) is a statute in California that prohibits State Universities from using State funding to travel to or from, team expenses while on the road etc. with States that have Anti LGBT Laws on the books. These laws are hidden under the guise of "Religious Freedom Acts" and Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas all have them. The law means that Cal and UCLA would have to pay out of their own funds for any games played with Universities from any state which has "Religious Freedom" acts that discriminate anyone they want on "Religious" grounds. California is not the only PAC State who has this law. Washington has a slightly different law that says the same thing. Colorado has been attempting to pass the same bill in Denver and has nearly succeeded. It is brought up each legislative session. Travel costs from the West Coast to the Midsection of the Nation for an entire team and Coaches, Cheer Squads, etc. have to use University Athletic funding , which after many years of living and working in California they just do not have. UCLA is upgrading the Rose Bowl with LA County and it's expensive. Cal just upgraded it's Football Stadium and Haas Arena. The pie is split among 146 large State Universities. What does this mean? George Kliavkoff is either ignorant of these laws, but will soon find out. The University Presidents of Cal, UCLA, Washington and Wazzu will have to face paying for any games with former Big 12 Universities. They are banned from doing any business with them. Giving the Big 12 Universities hope for the PAC is unreasonable and cruel to their fanbases. Cal and UCLA will blackball any move to include any Public University from Kansas, Oklahoma or Texas, and would reject Baylor out of hand. Sorry but these are the cold facts of life, KSU,TTU, OSU, and Baylor have no chance of admission into the PAC. Now Arizona and Utah are both Conservative Republican states, however they have avoided such laws, the consequences would have meant that UA, ASU and Utah would have been 86ed from the PAC were they to pass one. They are not stupid. I am a KU Grad who before my retirement lived in California for 15 years. I wanted to see Cal and KU play a series and it had been discussed but the AD at Cal decided there was not enough money to spend to do so. Truth is that these Laws will keep KSU, OSU, TTU, and Baylor from ever joining the PAC, membership must be unanimous and the California and Washington Universities will be obliged to say no. It is fortunate that KU is looking to the Big10 or ACC.. The ONLY Big12 Universities that have a chance at the PAC are ISU, and TCU (which is a Private University). Please do not shoot me, I just know what the law says. If you want to shoot someone, make it Sam Brownback who rammed this "Religious Freedom Act" through the Legislature in 2013. Or the Republican Legislators who passed this discriminatory law.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/california-bans-state-travel-over-lgbtq-laws_n_60db16e2e4b07b25f60f7ae1 Read it. 17 States are now banned by California. I am just making everyone aware of real facts in this Expansion dance.

Spencer Goff 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you for posting this, we had discussed this awhile back but neither me nor the original poster could remember what the bill was. We keep saying "football drives this" and we automatically assume that the sports schools control conferences, and it simply is not the case. The Pac 12 is not the SEC, Stanford and Cal in particular have been at the helm of the Pac forever, UCLA and Washington are usually right in line with them.

Eric TheCapn 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's too bad our football team isn't better and... you know... only two 1.5 sports mattering to anyone and no one in charge giving a flop about student-athletes. I live in Minneapolis and have loosely followed Minnesota basketball and the Big 10 my whole life, and FWIW, every one of those schools is selling their gone games against KU basketball. We ain't nothing. I hope we end up there, 50% because it makes the most sense re travel and 50% for selfish reasons (and a bunch of Gopher friends hating/envying me during basketball season).

Eric TheCapn 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Vern, they've changed travel unless it's "essential," which is totally subjective. Call me crazy, but I'm not concerned about that because it's so vague and people are greedy.

Eric TheCapn 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Okay, I'm crazy, because I saw the language in your other part, which I hadn't seen before and wine is official? It's sad that is fine too that, but I get it. Frankly I think not being allowed to be in the Pac 12 will be beneficial for all of our (and their) student-athletes. No doubt more travel and fewer tone zones is bad for education.

David Robinett 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hoping for a big 10 all the way. I don’t want KU to be in a watered down WAC with schools like Central Florida or Cincinnati, Houston, etc. Only major state schools.

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