Realignment talk has dominated college football since it was announced last week that USC and UCLA would be joining the Big Ten in 2024. The news came as a surprise considering the massive distances that the two historic programs in California are apart from the remainder of the conference. Regardless, the addition of USC and UCLA ahead of the Big Ten's next media rights deal means a massive payday that could be worth around $100 million annually per program is coming to the conference in the near future.
The move means the Big Ten is set up to compete with the SEC moving forward. The SEC will be adding Texas and Oklahoma in 2025. However, there has been some talk of the conference looking to push that date up to continue its battle with the growing Big Ten.
That leaves the rest of the country in quite the predicament. Either earn one of the dwindling openings in the SEC or Big Ten, band together with other conferences, or be left behind.
According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the ACC and PAC-12 are exploring the possibility of teaming up. The proposal is a loose partnership that would include regular-season matchups and a possible "championship game."
"John Canzano first reported the proposed the Pac-12 discussing a "loose partnership" with another conference Tuesday afternoon, noting some regular-season crossover games could be played in addition to the "championship game."
Sources indicate the proposal is viewed as a "strength in numbers" move. While the 24 combined ACC and Pac-12 teams wouldn't have nearly the clout of the 32 programs combined in the SEC and Big Ten, it would be something to combat the growing financial gap between those burgeoning superconferences and everyone else."
This is one of the only ways that teams not in the SEC and Big Ten can combat the growing revenue gap without switching conferences. With USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12, media rights for the remainder of the programs have dipped over 25% to around $30 million each year. Teams in the ACC are worth more but the conference's media rights deal will be bringing in about 50% of the annual revenue compared to the new SEC and Big Ten.
Last week, Action Network's Brett McMurphy reported that the SEC would likely target Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia or others if it elects to continue expanding. The problem on the table is that the ACC's Grant of Rights doesn't expire until 2036. Programs in the conference would have to find a legal way out of the agreement in court or risk paying hundreds of millions of dollars to leave the ACC.
There is also some uncertainty around the staying power of the PAC-12. It has previously been reported that the Big 12 is interested in adding Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. The Pac-12 made an announcement earlier this week that it was trying to negotiate the rights for its remaining teams to prevent further defections. After losing two of its bigger brands, will the other programs be interested in sticking around for decreasing revenue?
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