There were more significant moves from both the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences on Tuesday, as the two leagues continued to scramble to find their footing in the latest round of conference realignment.
The stage has been set for an all-out brawl, and it appears as if both sides are ready to rumble.
Tuesday morning, the Pac-12 released a statement that indicated that the conference had authorized its leaders to immediately begin negotiations for its next media rights agreement. The current deal is set to expire in 2024, one year before the Big 12’s current television rights deal expires in 2025.
This came just four days after conference officials authorized league leaders to all of its expansion options in the wake of UCLA and USC announcing their move to the Big Ten.
While the negotiations could take weeks and may not actually lead to anything, this is still a significant move. If nothing else, it serves as an announcement that the Pac-12 has joined the race for relevance and provides notice that the Big 12, should it choose to expand, will not simply be handed anything.
The Pac-12 may have fewer needle-moving options and less overall appeal than the Big 12, but the conference is clearly not going down without a fight. Just like the Big 12 refused to do during the previous two rounds of major conference realignment. Somehow, the Big 12 survived both of those.
Doing so a third time may not come without swift and significant action by the Big 12 Conference and new leader Brett Yormark, whose official start date is still nearly a month out on Aug. 1. Don’t think for a second, though, that the new Big 12 boss has not been involved at a very meaningful level in the conversations currently taking place within the conference.
To that end, a little later in the day on Tuesday, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that the Big 12 Conference was “involved in deep discussions to add multiple Pac-12 programs as a way to shore up its membership.”
While Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah have recently been tied to the Big 12 as possible additions, Dodd’s report also named Oregon and Washington as potential expansion candidates for the Big 12.
It remains to be seen whether those two programs, which also have been rumored to be targets of the Big Ten albeit at a lat-er date, would be interested in joining the Big 12. But if you’re the Big 12, and you deem that their value is strong enough to keep your television revenue pie divided equally at a high enough rate to make everyone happy, you absolutely should at least make them say no.
The risk lies with them on this. Even just offering those two additional schools a spot in a strengthened Big 12 paints the conference in a position of power. And that, for now, is the easy and early answer to the Pac-12 making its first move in this race.
The key is action. In past rounds of realignment, the Big 12 has shown a preference for patience. But the landscape is different today than it was then. The stakes are higher, as well.
Survival and key positioning in the power conference hierarchy are on the line this time. There is still room for smart and strategic planning as long as it’s paired with swift action. But sit-ting on your hands this time around could be catastrophic.
Conference realignment has once again reared its ugly and oh-so-lucrative head, but this time the University of Kansas appears to be in better shape than in the past.
That’s not to say there won’t be some restless nights or uneasy times, but thanks to the recent move that triggered this round — UCLA and USC going to the Big Ten of all places — both KU and the Big 12 seem to be on much more solid ground than they were during the chaos of previous rounds of realignment.
As things look today, KU’s two most likely options in the forthcoming Power 2 era of college athletics are, in no particular order, to stay in a suddenly-strengthened Big 12 Conference or become one of the last schools snatched up by the Big Ten.
There are legitimate reasons why each outcome is the more likely outcome for the Jayhawks, and KU still has plenty of work to do to get its house in order (yes, we're talking facilities and football stadium here) to continue to be a strong and attractive partner. But if that’s where KU lands when all of this is finished — if it ever is — then either option winds up being a win.
There’s no disputing that landing in the mega-millions world of the Big Ten is the better option financially. The schools that wind up there or in the SEC — be it with 16 in each conference or as many as 20 or 24 — will essentially be holding a lottery ticket that likely will be worth billions of dollars over the next couple of decades and worth even more in terms of stability.
Those two conferences are where everyone wants to be, and that’s why this thing is only going to get crazier.
But if Kansas stays in the Big 12, and if the Big 12 acts quickly and boldly to expand its membership with the best of the rest in the Pac-12, KU’s current conference suddenly winds up as the clear third-best option. And it’s probably not even close.
The ACC and Pac-12 fall way behind — if they don’t disappear altogether — and being in that third slot with the kind of guaranteed TV money that’s in the ballpark of at least what they’re used to bringing in today is a heck of a lot better than watching those dollars disappear and trying to figure out how to run your athletic department without them.
KU’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023 is $110 million. Without the $40.6 million haul from the conference’s television rights deals, which is already 17% higher than the Pac-12’s and nearly 20% higher than the ACC’s, you’re looking a mid-major budget in a hurry.
The key to the Big 12 solidifying that No. 3 spot — for both financial gain and continued prime time exposure —is for the conference to act quickly and decisively.
Reports have surfaced that tie Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah to the Big 12. One such report, from Jason Scheer, who covers Arizona for the 247 Sports network, even indicated that that foursome would be meeting with Big 12 officials on Tuesday for “significant discussions.”
That’s acting fast. And smart. And if history has taught us anything with realignment, it’s that these types of conversations can turn into action quickly. The Big 12 moving to add those four programs not only would bolster the conference’s cache, but it also could be a final blow to the Pac-12. And getting rid of the Pac-12 on the power grid eliminates at least one conference from the competition of ESPN's and FOX's football television dollars.
Think of it this way: The Pac-12 just watched USC and UCLA do the equivalent of what Oklahoma and Texas did to the Big 12 just one year ago, but was left without the same kind of nationwide appeal to pick up the pieces and move forward. Pac-12 officials are no doubt looking at all of their options. But, at least as of today, those options appear to be both severely limited and lacking juice.
As for the Big Ten angle here, that conference appears to be locked in on seeing what Notre Dame will do before it makes any other moves.
Who knows when that will come? But it seems as if this latest round of realignment, for better or worse, will force Notre Dame into some kind of long-term and complete conference commitment if for no other reason than the fear of being left out because of its stubborn pride.
The fact remains that if the Big Ten ever decides to extend an invitation to KU, the powers that be at Kansas have to accept it and never look back. The money and stability the Big Ten can offer is just too great to turn down.
However, while many Jayhawks are still holding out hope that a Big Ten invitation is still on the horizon, those same people should be celebrating and supporting whatever moves the Big 12 makes in the meantime because a strong Big 12 merely strengthens KU's chances at survival.
None of this is fun. It all further contributes to the deterioration of college athletics as we once knew it and that’s a drag.
But this is no time for nostalgia or burying one’s head in the stand. This is a time to seek survival, and, as strange as it may seem, the tables finally appear to have turned in the Big 12’s favor — and therefore KU’s, as well — in that department.
Wild times get wilder.
After starting his round with three bogeys in his first seven holes, former University of Kansas golf standout Gary Woodland recovered with three birdies in his final 11 holes to finish at even par (70) after one round at the PGA Championship on Thursday.
At the time he finished, Woodland was tied for 24th place at the star-studded major field.
Playing the back nine first, Woodland carded birdies at the par-4 17th hole, the par-4 4th hole and the par-5 5th hole. His birdie at No. 4 featured him draining a 23-foot putt. He followed that up by knocking it on the green in two shots at the fifth hole, and he cleaned up the birdie in two putts from there.
Woodland played with Englishman Lee Westwood and Italian Francesco Molinari on Thursday and that trio will be back out there for Round 2 on Friday.
Former Jayhawk Ryan Vermeer, a PGA professional in Nebraska, shot a 5-over 75 on Thursday, with six bogeys and one birdie. He played with American golfer Brian Harman and South African Oliver Bekker.
Woodland, who became the first Jayhawk to win a major in 2019, when he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, finished tied for sixth at the PGA Championship one year earlier in 2018, marking his best performance at the event.
Realignment Today: Reports indicate Big 12 planning to officially invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference as soon as Friday
The Big 12 Conference could have a decidedly different look as soon as Friday, even if it won’t impact the schedules and competition for a couple of years.
According to multiple reports this week, including one from CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, the Big 12 appears to be on the brink of ballooning to 14 teams at least for the next couple of years.
The league would go back down — or is it up? — to 12 schools upon the departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, which, as of today, is still slated for 2025 at the end of the Big 12’s current grant of rights agreement.
According to Dodd’s report, sources told him that Big 12 presidents — not ADs or commissioners — were prepared to “rubber stamp” invitations to four schools at a Friday meeting.
The four schools who are expected to be added are BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida, a group that emerged as the leading expansion candidates early on in the aftermath of the bombshell news dropped by OU and UT.
According to multiple reports this week, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF have officially applied for Big 12 membership and are expecting to receive invitations. It is not yet clear whether BYU has made a similar request, but, according to several recent reports, the Cougars emerged as the Big 12’s top choice in the current expansion talks.
Because of its status as an independent in football, BYU potentially could join the Big 12 as soon as 2022, with the three other schools following a year later.
While the addition of these four schools will not entirely make up for the losses of big, bad national brands Oklahoma and Texas, reports have indicated that it could be enough for the Big 12 Conference to keep its Power 5 status.
That would be significant both in terms of annual revenue haul and the conference’s ability to keep its access to the biggest pay day of all as the other power conferences explore expanding the college football playoff from its current four-team format to as many as 12.
It also would bring some much-needed stability to the conference — temporary or otherwise — and could make current members less likely to feverishly look for landing spots elsewhere as had been the case a couple of weeks ago.
That’s not to say that a few of the conference’s remaining eight members could not wind up somewhere else a few years down the road. But it does likely mean that if a school like Kansas is going to end up somewhere else, like say the Big Ten, it will be because things changed in that conference and the Big Ten decided to expand and went after KU or whichever other schools it might consider adding.
If that were to happen, KU almost certainly would have to take the invitation. Because while the move to add these four today would help ensure the Big 12’s survival, the conference has proven twice now that it can become vulnerable at any moment.
Beyond that, the Big Ten pay day would still be far greater (nearly double) than what a revamped Big 12 will pull in from its new television deals/partners, even if that number winds up being $20-25 million per school per year.
If no other invitation comes, KU, and others, finding a way to salvage $20-25 million annually from TV revenue should be considered a major victory. Sure, it’s a dip from the current $35 million range that Big 12 members are enjoying. But it could have dipped way lower.
There’s still a long way to go before those numbers become reality. And perhaps there will be some new, innovative twists to what the Big 12 does moving forward that make it (a) more appealing long term, (b) more lucrative for its members or (c) harder for anyone to get out once they’ve committed to the revamped conference.
But all of that can and will be settled over time, which the Big 12 now appears to have thanks to its willingness to move quickly to add what appears to be the best of what was available.
Realignment Today: Reports indicate Big 12 zeroing in on making a serious push to expand with 4 schools
It had been building steam throughout the past couple of weeks, but it now appears to be nearing lock status.
According to multiple reports, the Big 12 Conference has zeroed in on BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida as four top candidates for expansion.
In fact, Brett McMurphy, of Action Network, reported Friday that a source with knowledge of the Big 12’s thinking told him that there are currently no other targets.
A Thursday report from The Athletic noted that Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby paid a visit to the Houston campus to discuss expansion plans.
And several other reports dating back to last week indicated that the Big 12 had zeroed in on BYU as its top choice in potential expansion.
All four programs bring good football, national brands and the potential for growth.
Cincinnati, Houston and UCF all have played in at least one New Year’s Six bowl game in the past six seasons. And BYU, which finished 11-1 in 2020, ended last season ranked No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll.
A source told McMurphy that the Big 12 decision makers viewed TV audience, football status and market size as the three most important factors in their discussions of which schools to add. But, McMurphy also reported that each school’s basketball brand carried significant weight, with the Big 12 putting 75% of its considerations toward football and the remaining 25% on basketball.
Even combined, however, they’re not likely to be deemed as valuable as Oklahoma and Texas, which are planning to leave the Big 12 in 2025 upon the expiration of the current grant of rights agreement among the 10 teams in the conference today.
Still, for a conference on shaky ground, moving quickly to bring stability with four pretty solid schools can only be viewed as a win. For now.
The long-term impact of these moves remains unknown. While Bowlsby said this week that the Big 12 ADs expressed a desire to stick together and focus on rebuilding a strong Big 12 for the future, the potential for any of the existing members to look to move elsewhere figures to remain in place for at least a little while.
For one, none of these moves to add the top four candidates will be effective immediately. McMurphy’s report indicated that formal invitations to the four schools could go out this month. But even that would not pave the way for them to be in the Big 12 anytime soon.
BYU, as an independent in football and a member of the West Coast Conference in other sports, may have the easiest time transitioning if things do in fact go this way.
But in order for the other three schools to leave the American Athletic Conference, they would need to go through a process similar to the one OU and UT are currently facing, with required notice, exit fees and more.
McMurphy’s report said a source told him that BYU could be in the Big 12 as soon as 2022, with the other three schools possibly joining a year later.
All of that would leave time for the current Big 12 schools to field offers, explore options and even sell themselves to one of the other power conferences that likely will move into the new era of college athletics significantly ahead of whatever the revamped Big 12 looks like in terms of dollars and TV contracts.
That’s not to say the Big 12 couldn’t be a safe space. It probably won’t come close to the $35-40 million member payouts currently enjoyed under the existing television deals. But it’s possible that this new group could find a partner (or perhaps multiple partners) that deem the new-look league to be worth $20 million annually or so.
For Kansas, and the rest of the remaining eight, that would be a better outcome than falling into the Mountain West Conference or even the AAC, but obviously not as good as landing a spot in one of the four other power conferences.
The question moving forward will be simple: Do those other conferences (a) want or (b) feel the need to expand.
Time will tell on that. And the answer may very well be no. At least for a while.
If that’s the case, KU would do well to get on board with this Big 12 expansion for stability's sake while protecting its own interests by quietly continuing to explore what options are available and by keeping any new TV contract to a minimum if they need to sign one at all.
It’s likely that any new deal or agreement with a television partner would include a composition clause of some kind to protect the interests of the Big 12 against future departures by any of its members.
Adjustments to and renegotiations of media contracts has been a regular part of the college athletics landscape in recent years, and, for the Big 12, it almost has to be a part of the equation moving forward.
Leaders of the eight remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference remain focused on staying committed to one another and the conference they have called home for more than two decades.
After two days of meetings this week with athletic directors from what the Big 12 is calling the eight “continuing members of the Big 12 Conference,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby shared the tone of the talks.
“The eight ADs remain committed to furthering the Big 12 as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences, and look forward to working with our presidents and chancellors to strengthen the league,” Bowlsby said Wednesday night in a statement released by the Big 12. “Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the conference.”
The Big 12 is in this position, of course, because of the recent decision by Oklahoma and Texas to announce their plans to leave the conference for the SEC after the grant of rights agreement expires in 2025.
Whether the two powerhouse programs remain in the conference that long remains to be seen and could depend largely on what the eight members they’re leaving behind do in the coming months and years.
Shortly after OU and UT announced their future departures, the three other power-five conferences in college athletics announced that they were forming an alliance.
Leaders of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 held a joint press conference to announce the alliance and they said then that the Big 12 was not included in it because of the general instability the conference is currently facing.
Speculation about Big 12 expansion, and which schools (and when) the Big 12 might add in an effort to regain stability and offset some of the losses of Oklahoma and Texas, has run rampant in the past couple of weeks.
But while he did not give a specific timeline of any kind, Bowlsby’s statement on Wednesday makes it clear that nothing is imminent.
BYU above all, along with Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, have gained the most traction in expansion talks and rumors. But at least half a dozen other schools have been floated in recent weeks as universities the Big 12 might — or even should — consider adding.
The conference’s preference for patience likely comes from the fact that OU and Texas would face stiff exit penalties for leaving the conference, therein bringing even more money to the pockets of the eight remaining members.
But while financial stability may be a reality for at least a couple more years, the future of the conference beyond that seems to be viewed as being on rocky ground throughout the rest of college athletics at the present time.
According to a Thursday report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, it appears that University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod is part of a sub-committee charged with looking into potential Big 12 expansion, as the winds of realignment blow back toward the middle of America.
In the report, Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt reportedly said he, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades and “presidents” from Iowa State and Kansas were on the committee.
Later in the story, Hocutt said the group had been expanded to include all Big 12 presidents.
A KU spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Journal-World inquiry about Girod’s spot on the committee.
It also has been reported by several outlets that the Big 12 has turned to former West Virginia AD and XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck to serve as a consultant to help the conference work through its realignment options.
The news of the Big 12 moving forward with expansion exploration came just hours after the Pac-12 announced its plan to “stand pat” rather than expand.
“Right now, our complete focus is to make the Big 12 as strong as it can possibly be,” Hocutt told the Avalanche-Journal. “And I expect that Texas Tech will play a leadership role in that. We’re going to continue to be part of the power-five structure in college athletics.”
With the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten entering into an alliance that binds those three power conferences together — at least philosophically and perhaps even as voting partners — and with the SEC doing the powerhouse football thing in the southeast, the eight remaining Big 12 schools have some decisions to make.
From the day Oklahoma and Texas announced their plans to move to the SEC, the talk in the Big 12 has been about the remaining eight staying strong and loyal and seeing what options they might have next.
While it may seem on the surface like their hand has been forced and that expansion and salvaging some kind of TV deal for its future survival is the conference’s only move, that may not be the case for at least the next three to four years.
Remember, as things currently stand, OU and UT are not planning on leaving the Big 12 until the grant of rights agreement expires in 2025. That would give all 10 current Big 12 schools four more years of solid financial footing.
It’s important to remember that simply putting together a committee does not mean that expansion is inevitable. And it’s certainly not imminent. After all, the Pac-12 just proved that in a matter of a few days.
And while Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday that the conference had no plans to expand, it is also important to remember that, in today’s wild times, that plan is more of a “that’s how we feel right now” sort of thing rather than an “it’s etched in stone forever” deal.
Things change. They always have. Things change often in college athletics these days. More so than ever before.
Best to be ready, or at least ready for Round 2 after getting blindsided the first time around.
According to the Avalanche-Journal report, the Big 12’s expansion committee is slated to meet Friday morning before a round of “in-person meetings next week involving Big 12 athletic directors and media and television consultants.”
“We’re continually talking to (Big 12) commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby as well as Oliver Luck,” Hocutt said in the story. “(We) feel very fortunate to have Oliver engaged in our con-versations in helping us navigate the waters, as well.
“There is a lot of interest in the Big 12 Conference," he added. “There is a lot of interest for people to be associated with us, to join with us. So we will take our time, be diligent and make sure we make the right strategic decisions for the long-term fu-ture.”
Realignment Today: All eyes on the Pac-12 for the rest of the week, even if the conference deciding to expand is highly unlikely
From the moment Oklahoma and Texas first announced that they were leaving the Big 12 Conference for the greener bank accounts, I mean pastures, of the SEC, a huge chunk of the Kansas fan base immediately put its focus on KU’s chances of joining the Big Ten.
While that may still be the most desired outcome — if it’s even possible — it’s another of the remaining power five conferences that bears watching this week.
Shortly after yesterday’s groundbreaking announcement of the alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff told multiple media outlets that the Pac-12 would announce by the end of the week whether it intends to expand.
The fact that there’s such a quick turnaround on that answer leads me to believe that we’re simply waiting for a no.
But in these uncertain times, the mere fact that one of the conferences out there that could provide a lifeline to at least some of the remaining eight Big 12 schools who have no idea what their future holds means it’s worth tracking.
Shortly before the newly announced three-way alliance became a thing, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Kliavkoff met to discuss the current landscape of college athletics. The hope then, among fans of the Big 12, was that those two conferences would form some kind of partnership. It never happened. And now the Big 12 has been left out of the alliance altogether.
Still, Kliavkoff seems like a leader who has his head on straight and he also appears to be genuinely exploring all kinds of options for the good of the Pac-12, possible expansion being one of them.
Earlier this month, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the following:
“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."
As already mentioned, the smart money this week is on hearing that the Pac-12 has no intention of adding any schools to its conference at this time. Saying anything else would seem to run counter to the whole point of announcing the big alliance on Tuesday.
But just because the Pac-12 says no today — if that’s in fact how it goes down — does not mean it is etched in stone forever and can never change. Same goes for the Big Ten or the ACC, for that matter.
If we’ve learned anything during the past decade, and, more specifically in the past couple of years and months, it’s that things are ever-changing in the world of college athletics and today’s stability is only as good as tomorrow’s actions.
Kansas to the Pac-12 remains way far down on my list of likely outcomes for the Jayhawks when all of this is settled. But it certainly doesn’t hurt any of the Big 12 schools searching for hope to know that at least one of the power conferences is entertaining the idea of expansion as we speak.
Realignment Today: Why KU remaining patient (for now) is the right move as the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 formally announce new alliance
Updated at 3:27 p.m.
Commissioners from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 joined together on Tuesday to formally announce an alliance between their three power conferences.
While doing so, they made sure to point out that they’re rooting for the Big 12 Conference and emphasized that a thriving Big 12 is good for college athletics and the power conference landscape as a whole.
Not so good that they would want to include the remaining eight schools in the suddenly-on-life-support Big 12 in the alliance, mind you, but good.
In addition, the ACC’s Jim Phillips, the Big Ten’s Kevin Warren and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 all expressed admiration and confidence in Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and at least one of them, Phillips, said they all were willing to do whatever they could to help the Big 12.
Again, everything but securing its future by including the Big 12 schools left hanging by Oklahoma and Texas in the groundbreaking alliance, which, Warren said, was done in part to bring stability to college athletics.
That may well be true in those three conferences and with the SEC. But things remain anything but stable in Big 12 country.
The whole thing reeked of an awkward break-up, with one person saying really, really nice things about the person they’re dumping, first, to lessen the blow of the break-up, but, more importantly, to make themselves feel better about what they’re doing.
The details of the alliance remain a work in progress. Heck, there’s not even a contract, and Kliavkoff said there does not need to be.
That sounds like it’ll go well down the road.
At the center of it all, though, is the group’s belief that there will be scheduling advantages that lead to more television dollars, a shared belief that's important to preserve the core values that have always existed in college athletics and the idea that academics should remain a key part of the puzzle.
They didn’t come right out and say that some of those things don’t seem to matter as much in the SEC anymore, but you weren’t alone if you read into it that way.
It’s unclear today how any of this might impact Kansas and the remaining eight schools in the Big 12.
Things continue to look bleak in terms of the conference surviving as the power conference that we have known it to be for the past couple of decades.
And those eight schools whose futures hang in the balance have very different paths forward. Some, like KU, may be best served by remaining patient and seeing how things play out for the next year or two or four.
Others, like Kansas State, may have to be a little more aggressive, both from the perspective of self-preservation and in saving what they can of the Big 12 Conference.
That’s why you’re hearing K-State AD Gene Taylor offer up his thoughts and hopes for K-State’s future and also why you’re not hearing much of anything coming from KU.
It’s not because the Kansas administration — and, remember, this whole thing will play out at the university and athletic department levels — is sitting on its hands and carrying on like it’s business as usual. Conversations are being had. Strategies are being considered. And there seems to be a strong and sincere confidence that KU will be fine — whatever that may mean — when all of this is settled.
You don’t have to like it, but it is a part of their strategy. And it’s probably a smart move.
If KU is going to land somewhere other than a revamped Big 12 Conference in the near future, it is not going to get there by rushing into an agreement now with schools that either aren’t, have not been or will not be power five type programs.
This has to be attacked from the long-range approach, not from what makes you feel safe and secure in the present.
Let’s take every KU fan’s biggest dream of seeing the school land in the Big Ten as an example.
It does not appear that there is anything concrete happening there at the moment. Nor has there been. That does not mean that things could not change if — or is it when? — the Big Ten decides to expand sometime in the future.
If KU were to lead the charge or even just throw its full support behind inviting new schools into the revamped Big 12, it could find itself locked into an agreement (like the soon-to-expire granting of rights deal) that extends for a decade or longer.
That would backfire big time if, in three or four years, the Big Ten came to KU and said, ‘Hey, you want in?’
The answer then would still be yes, but there would be exit fees and a big mess to work through to make it happen, much like the situation you’re seeing with Oklahoma and Texas today.
It might not be a popular approach among the fans, but waiting patiently, keeping all of your options open and, most importantly, not locking yourself into anything concrete for at least the next year or two seems like the smartest plan of attack for KU at this point.
That all changes if the Big Ten, or even the ACC, were to come to KU in three months with a formal invitation to join. But short of that happening, remaining fluid is the best move.
Realignment Today: As reports surface of a power conference alliance moving forward, at least one of those conferences remains open to expansion
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.”