The conference realignment watch continues as the conference media days continue to play out across the country. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said at SEC media days the conference is not feeling any urgency to react after watching the Big Ten make its latest move, nor is there any urgency to speed up the timeline to welcome Oklahoma and Texas. Although the Sooners and Longhorns continue to say they are not expecting to leave the Big 12 earlier than originally announced, the Big 12 landscape could be preparing to change even more.
After previously having discussions about forming some sort of alliance or partnership with the Pac-12, reports indicate the Big 12 is no longer interested in any working partnership and is instead more interested in raiding the Pac-12 for any potential members. According to CBS Sports, the Big 12 decided a merger with the Pac-12 was not in its best interest, but potentially adding a handful of members from the conference is.
This follows previous reporters suggesting the Big 12 was having individual discussions with current Pac-12 members including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. Oregon and Washington have also reportedly been involved in some discussions with the Pac-12, which makes sense as each remaining member of the supposedly crumbling Pac-12 would be wise to evaluate all of their respective options.
The Big Ten could still potentially be an option for a few Pac-12 options after the conference planted its flag in California with the recent additions of USC and UCLA. Oregon and Washington would be seen as the next two best options from the Pac-12, although Colorado and Utah would not be a bad combination either.
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The Pac-12 is desperate for stability, and a merger with the Pac-12 may have been the best possible solution for the conference. But the Pac-12 is also having discussions with the ACC about a partnership that would span coast to coast and help get more Pac-12 programming on ESPN. But if the Pac-12 loses more members to other conferences, any discussions about a partnership will likely collapse anyway.
While all of this is going on, the Pac-12 is beginning to negotiate a new media rights deal, but it would not make sense for any broadcast partner to offer a great package given the worry about stability from within at this time.
According to CBS Sports, the remaining 10 members of the Pac-12 are set to stick together and work out a new media rights deal with no motivation to join the Big 12. But we all know that money has a powerful sway on schools and an opportunity to cash in a Big Ten check may be difficult to pass up compared to whatever the Pac-12 is able to negotiate for its members.
Most reports seem to agree that conferences are waiting and hoping Notre Dame makes a decision on its football independence soon, as the Irish going to a conference could be a significant domino in ongoing media rights negotiations and show which way each conference will ultimately move in conference realignment. Notre Dame officials continue to say there is no rush for the Irish to make any drastic moves as they feel they are in a comfortable position with football independence and a relationship with the ACC.
In any event, the upcoming Big Ten Kickoff is going to be full of questions about the future.
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