With the 2022 college football season just around the corner, the conference realignment within the NCAA is at its peak.
The Big 12 Conference, which has included WVU athletics since 2012, is looking to expand after losing Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC.
Most recently, two Pac-12 cornerstones, USC and UCLA, decided to leave for the Big Ten Conference. This opened up discussions of a potential merger between the Big 12 and Pac-12. However, talks have since fizzled out.
With these latest moves, college programs that aren’t currently positioned within the SEC or Big Ten have an uncertain future. As these “super leagues” continue forming, those on the outside must react now or get left behind going forward.
Despite the most recent attempt at a merger failing, there are likely plenty of additional changes still upcoming. And changes are needed if the Big 12 hopes to generate significant revenue through sports betting.
Sports bettors in WV are rooting for the Big 12, home of the Mountaineers, to up its game.
Big 12 won’t partner with Pac-12
The scramble is on for the remaining conferences that make up the Power 5. With the SEC and Big Ten now light-years ahead with their latest additions, the ACC, Pac-12, and Big 12 need to try to keep pace.
One potential avenue for that was a partnership between the Pac-12 and Big 12, but that no longer appears to be on the table. Just this week, WVU’s conference chose not to pursue a complete merger after taking time to break down the potential deal.
There were at least three separate Zoom meetings between the two sides, but unfortunately, efforts were to no avail. According to ESPN, a Big 12 source close to the situation mentioned that it wasn’t the right fit for the conference for “a multitude of reasons.”
The main objection was that this merger wouldn’t have brought that much revenue to the Big 12.
Still, the conference knows it can’t just sit tight and hope the future works out. It must look for ways to improve and stay relevant in this latest realignment based strictly around football.
That’s part of the reason new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark is saying the league is “open for business.” Yormark continued:
“We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference. There is no higher priority than to best position the Big 12 for its upcoming multimedia rights negotiations. Everything we do must create momentum for those negotiations.”
The conference is scheduled to negotiate new media rights in 2024. To get into a better situation, Yormark and the Big 12 need more noteworthy members.
Potential new programs for the Big 12
The goal of every collegiate program right now is to set itself up for a profitable future. This means doing whatever it takes to guarantee more revenue, regardless of how it impacts the student-athletes and a wide variety of other sports as a whole.
Since football drives the most money in college sports by far, all of the attention is on how to benefit those specific teams. Once the Big 12’s current TV deal expires following the 2024 season, it will have the opportunity to renegotiate for what should be a lot more money.
One way to enhance its status at the moment is by acquiring more schools. Of course, it wants to connect only with those that can help bring more eyes to games and money for the conference. Adding those that don’t move the needle at all only dilutes these earnings.
One maneuver that still could take place is snagging a few Pac-12 members. The league met with several of them earlier in July with intentions of possibly extending them an invite. Programs included:
- Arizona State
While none of these schools equate to what Texas and Oklahoma mean, they could help get the ball rolling.
Some may forget that the conference already began adjusting for this crazy future. It agreed to bring on BYU, Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati last September. Those schools intend to join over the next two years.
The Pac-12 features two more schools that stand out above the rest, Oregon and Washington. Both previously qualified for the College Football Playoff, thus increasing their power and leverage.
Even though Nike founder Phil Knight wants his alumni in Oregon to join the SEC or Big Ten, the Big 12 may pull the Ducks along. This decision likely will come down to what options Oregon has.
If it has a choice, the SEC or Big Ten is probably more advantageous. But that might not be the case, leaving the Big 12 as its potential landing spot.