The Pac-12 announced this morning that they have entered into a “Historic Alliance” with the Big 10 and ACC Conferences in a move that has been expected for several weeks. This move includes additional scheduling opportunities in football and men’s/women’s basketball.
The 3 conferences note that they “are grounded in their support of broad-based athletic programs, the collegiate model and opportunities for student-athletes as part of the educational missions of the institutions”. Within the press conference it was noted that the 41 member institutions of the 3 conferences are aligned in their emphasis on academics and education.
However the core reason for this alliance is clear even if it isn’t spelled out anywhere in the press release. The SEC majorly disrupted the shape of college athletics by raiding the Big 12 for Texas and Oklahoma while leading the charge for an expanded College Football Playoff. A future where the SEC with the backing of ESPN controlled every major detail around college football seemed if not inevitable then at least likely.
By coming together to provide a voting bloc against any attempt to expand the College Football Playoff before ESPN’s existing TV contract runs out it (hopefully) eliminates the chances of an immediate SEC national takeover. All 3 commissioners when asked about it in the press conference noted (totally coincidentally) that they want to be methodical about any playoff expansion format. Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and Big 10 commissioner Kevin Warren both said unequivocally that they support expansion but that they want to take some time to review all of the details.
Kliavkoff: "The Pac-12 is 100% in favor of expansion of the College Football Playoff." Says there are issues on the margins, however.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) August 24, 2021
From a fan perspective the most tangible element of this alliance is related to non-conference schedules. The release today notes that the “scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations”. Husky football is booked in its non-conference schedule through 2025 and already has a few Big 10 non-conference matchups scheduled beyond that. It was made clear that no existing contracts will be disrupted by this announcement.
If this alliance holds through that point it would make it seem reasonable to expect some additional Big 10 and ACC games added to the schedule. Big 10 commissioner Kevin Warren noted that they already have several big matchups planned with Oregon/Ohio State and Washington/Michigan this year.
When asked whether this move would result in the Pac-12 dropping down to 8 conference games in the future, George Kliavkoff noted it is possible in the future. However, the media rights deal lasts another 3 seasons and so any move to change before that would require the sign-off of all of the TV entities. Kliavkoff sounded open to the possibility though of attempting it stating that the replacement non-con games would likely be bigger draws than the existing 9th conference game.
It seems much more likely that more immediate change will be seen in men’s and women’s basketball. The official announcement stated that “the three conferences will add early and mid-season games as well as annual events that feature premier matchups between the three leagues.” The Big 10 and ACC already have a challenge event connecting the 2 leagues. It remains to be seen if that event would be altered to include the Pac-12 as well. Regardless, it should help UW be able to beef up a schedule that fell flat this year for men’s basketball.
In addition to those schedules there also is a mention that “the three conferences will also explore opportunities for the vast and exceptional Olympic Sports programs to compete more frequently and forge additional attractive and meaningful rivalries”. All 3 conferences offer several more Olympic sports than the SEC and that does seem to be one of the few things that truly connects all 3 of the conferences.
What are your thoughts on The Alliance?
This poll is closed
Really looking forward to it!
Skeptical but could be cool.
Don’t think it’s going to end up achieving anything.
I hate it.
Additional Alliance Notes
Pac-12 commissioner George K: "There is no signed contract."— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) August 24, 2021
Said there is an agreement between commissioners, presidents and ADs at 41 schools.
Jim Phillips: "It's about trust. We've looked each other in the eye. We've made an agreement."— Max Olson (@max_olson) August 24, 2021
Yeah idk guys, that didn't work out super great in the Big 12.
Kliavkoff: "We did the alliance to protect the collegiate model. ... We were not focused on revenue when creating the alliance."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 24, 2021
ACC commissioner Jim Phillips: "We want and need the Big 12 to do well. The Big 12 matters in college athletics. The Big 12 matters in Power 5 athletics. ... We'll be watching what occurs here."— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) August 24, 2021
Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff said there is no intention to stop our teams from also scheduling games against any other conference they want to schedule games against. "They’ll have flexibility."— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 24, 2021
"Hopefully this will bring stability to college athletics. The last few months have shaken the beliefs of college athletics." Warren.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) August 24, 2021
Kevin Warren: "I wouldn't say this is a reaction" to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, "but to be totally candid, you have to evaluate what's going on in the landscape of college athletics."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 24, 2021