The Pac-12 announced an alliance with the BIG 10 and ACC conferences Tuesday, as the college football landscape continues to shift in a major way ahead of the 2021 season. This move can almost certainly be tied to the news of Texas and Oklahoma announcing their plans to join the SEC earlier this summer, as the conference continues to assert itself as the home of the most talented college football teams in the country from top to bottom.
The alliance will consist of 41 total schools and 27,000 student athletes, according to a Pac-12 press release. The Pac-12 says the alliance is, among other things a "scheduling component" for college football, as well as both men's and women's college basketball. The release went on to specify specific areas of college athletics that the three conferences are dedicated to focusing their energy and efforts on:
- Student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
- Strong academic experience and support
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Social justice
- Gender equity
- Future structure of the NCAA
- Federal legislative efforts
- Postseason championships and future formats
You can view the full release here.
New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff held a joint press conference with BIG Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips to announce the historic move. Kliavkoff made various comments of note, but some that stood out most include there being no written agreement to legitimize the alliance, but rather that it was an agreement between three gentlemen.
He also made it clear that the Pac-12 is "100 percent" in support of expanding the College Football Playoff and that he viewed the alliance as an opportunity to "hit the reset button to make a positive influence."
University of Oregon President and Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors Michael Schill released a statement in response to the alliance Tuesday.
"The Pac-12 is thrilled to join with so many world-class universities in a collaborative effort to support our student-athletes through an unwavering commitment to excellence in academics and athletics. Together we can help shape a future for college athletics where broad-based athletic programs in concert with educational opportunities allow us to support the next generation of leaders."
Following Tuesday's football practice, Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal spoke with reporters about his reaction to the news.
"We schedule ambitiously all the time," Cristobal said. "We're blessed to have a very powerful brand. I think any time the landscape moves like it's been moving, opportunities like this, to be in an alliance with such prominent programs and conferences and whatnot--it's another opportunity to get our brand out there and elevate it that much more."
The head coach continued, alluding to how the alliance could open new doors on the recruiting trail and add fuel to a program that's already recruiting at a high clip.
"I know that just, quickly thinking about it, you're looking at a lot of opportunities possibly, in places where there's a lot of Oregon Ducks," he said of how the alliance could help expand the reach of the Oregon brand. "We've got Ducks all over the country and this looks like a tremendous opportunity to expand our footprint, to expand and elevate our brand--be and go and compete in places that we haven't been before and just continue doing things to elevate not only our brand, but our conference and college football."
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A major talking point surrounding the Pac-12 has been the so called "cannibalizing" of the conference, where the best teams essentially lose crucial games at the end of the regular season that in turn, drive them out of playoff contention. One potential remedy that has been discussed is playing eight in-conference games rather than the current nine.
Cristobal didn't have a specific comment on whether he thought this would be beneficial, but offered his vote of confidence in George Kliavkoff and the direction in which the conference is headed.
"I don't think I've thought that far into the whole thing," he said. "I know that in the moments that we've had to meet as a conference and with our new commissioner, every single person walked out of those meetings very enthused and very excited and very confident that we're gonna be in a great position. Not only because of the enhancements that we feel that he's gonna bring, but because we have a lot of senior-laden teams in the conference."
The conference has elevated its recruiting profile nationally since the conclusion of the 2020 season, which could bode well for fielding more quality teams moving forward.
"The coaching additions that have been made in the conference and the way that recruiting has been taking off for a lot of teams in the conference, this thing's gonna be on a steady climb."
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