by Jim Buzzerd
About a month ago Pac 12 schools USC and UCLA, both Los Angeles schools, announced they were going to join the Big 10 conference. A year earlier Oklahoma and Texas announced they were going to the SEC. At the present time it is expected that the Big 12 will make Oklahoma and Texas honor their agreement to remain in the Big 12 through the 2024-25 seasons. They will play football in the SEC in the fall of 2025. USC and UCLA will begin Big 10 play in the fall of 2024.
If you’re looking at it like I am, none of that really matters at this point. It’s done and the SEC and Big 10 have distanced themselves from the rest of college football. Those two conferences were already well ahead of the other three Power Five conferences in revenue per school. The Big 12 was third and within shouting distance of the top dogs. With the two Big 12 bell cows preparing to leave the fold, the per school money of the remaining eight schools will be much less than it was previously.
Big 12 additions Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida and Brigham Young may help in future media negotiations but won’t likely add much to any deal. Anyway, a month ago I was thinking, perhaps hoping, that more dominoes would fall quickly. First, and foremost, I want West Virginia University to end up in as good a place as possible. Obviously, the best place would be the Big 10 or SEC. Of those two conferences the SEC would seem a good fit, but the phones aren’t ringing in Morgantown with an invitation. Just assume those two landing spots aren’t possible right now.
A lot of people still like the ACC for West Virginia, but the ACC still has its media rights signed over to ESPN through the 2035-36 season. If ESPN won’t renegotiate with the ACC, their payout will probably remain less than the Big 12 payout. It’s also widely speculated that Clemson and Florida State are working the angles to get a SEC spot. So, I ask, if the ACC loses Clemson and Florida State, is it stable enough to want to be in?
Another scenario involves the Big 12 doing some form of a merger with the remaining Pac 12 teams. I have no idea what is factual, but there are a few media types on Twitter about it. One model had Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah going to the Big 12 to form a 16-school conference. There are 18 and 20 school versions of the merger as well. If any of these scenarios happen, we might know in relative short order since the Pac 12 is currently negotiating its media rights. It was reported Monday that ESPN is offering $24.5 per school. That is extremely low considering the projected per school is $34 million for the Pac 12. The Big 12 is $40 million. Many in the industry think mixing the right Pac 12 schools with the Big 12 could elevate every one. Stay tuned.