With USC and UCLA off to the Big Ten, the future of the remaining Pac-12 schools is stuck in a state of limbo. At present, there’s at least one potential landing spot for programs seeking greener pastures: the Big 12.
As many as six schools have reportedly engaged in “deep discussions” about joining the Big 12, according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. Dodd mentions Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah specifically, while adding that Oregon and Washington are also under consideration. Also on the table is a merger between the Big 12 and remaining Pac-12 schools.
How the Big 12 chooses to proceed will come down to what resolution the conference believes will make it more likely to get a richer media rights deal. It’s believed that adding Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado would give the conference the same annual average value (AAV) in 2025—the year Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC—as it does for its current 12 members now. Merging with the Pac-12 entirely, though, creates further complications, particularly with how interested ESPN and Fox might be in negotiating with one or both leagues.
The Pac-12 reportedly had a projected AAV of $500 million per year—or $42 million per school—before USC and UCLA left. Now, that number is $300 million ($30 million per school), per the San Jose Mercury News. The conference released a statement on Tuesday saying its board of directors authorized the league to immediately begin renegotiating its media rights agreements, making the Pac-12’s actual AAV in the coming years more difficult to forecast.
The Big Ten, meanwhile, has reportedly been contacted by 10 schools informally to seek a potential move to the conference after snagging USC and UCLA, according to Laine Higgins of The Wall Street Journal.
The calls come as schools not currently in the Big Ten or SEC jockey for position, with consolidation among the nation’s top programs becoming the norm. Schools from the Pac-12 and ACC are said to be among those who could look toward the Big Ten as a next move, per Higgins, as well as Notre Dame, which represents the biggest domino of all.
Notre Dame has remained an independent for its entire football existence (save for the pandemic-altered 2020 season when it competed in the ACC). The school has an exclusive agreement with NBC to air all of its home games, reportedly bringing in $15 million per year in revenue from the deal. Notre Dame football is also a partial member of the ACC, which paid the program $10.8 million in disbursements in 2019-20. The Irish received $34.9 million in for the ’20-21 academic year.
While a move to the ACC might seem logical given Notre Dame’s current affiliation with the conference, the financial prospect would be much greater in the Big Ten, which would reportedly be thrilled to bring the Irish into the fold.
“The Big Ten would take them today, tomorrow, five years from now, ten years from now,” one conference commissioner told Higgins. “You would go to numbers that just stink for building schedules to add Notre Dame.”
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- Source: Notre Dame Has One Preference Amid Conference Realignment
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