In a direct response to the SEC picking up Texas and Oklahoma, the commissioners of the Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC formally agreed Tuesday afternoon to sit on the rotting husk of the Big 12 in order to protect their wallets from overreach by the SEC and TV networks.
And really, that’s the gist of what’s going on. I can save you from reading a copy and paste of what the B1G PR office emailed me an hour ago, but make no mistake, this is a move to keep Florida State, Clemson, USC, UCLA, Oregon, and potentially Notre Dame from joining the SEC while increasing bargaining power when it comes time to renegotiate TV deals and that’s about it. The commissioners are waxing about how all 41 presidents of each school unanimously support the move and the alliance will improve social justice causes and academic standards and even legislative efforts, but no. We like TV money and we need it now more than ever.
The Big Ten likes to talk about "academics" without ever really getting specific about it.— Matt Brown (@MattBrownEP) August 24, 2021
Okay, so you're all (mostly) selective, research-focused schools. Neat! But what do you actually WANT. What is your vision for athlete outcomes that other leagues don't want?
And that’s fine! Really, it is! I don’t want to see the Big Ten ever go the way of the Big 12 (more on that in a moment) and if this protects that from happening, so be it. I would just note that for now, this is all very... speculative.
George Kliavkoff: "There's no signed document. There's an agreement between three gentlemen and a commitment from 41 (schools)."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 24, 2021
Big Ten commish Kevin Warren: “If you have to go back and look at a contract that you signed, then you probably entered a deal with the wrong parties.”— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) August 24, 2021
It’s a lot of talking without saying anything. I watched most of the presser and read the statements and I wrapped up the hourlong affair for you in under 200 words above.
Aside from TV money, the alliance also brings more leverage at the bargaining table when it comes time to expand the college football playoff and its associated carriage rights.
The release stated a scheduling alliance among the schools “will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations.” So what that alliance will look like for football (or basketball or any other sport) is unknown, but it’s speculated each school will play one opponent from the other conferences every year in football. If that’s the case, you can expect to see the Big Ten and Pac-12 to start playing 8 conference games instead of 9, and important for Hawkeye fans, the death of Iowa-Iowa State.
If Iowa were to play, say, UCLA and Georgia Tech as part of a non-con slate, there’s no way Iowa will add a third Power-5 opponent in Iowa State to its schedule. No other schools would boast 11 games against P5 schools in a 12-game regular season and Iowa ain’t gonna shoot itself in the foot do appease some folks in West Des Moines.
So, what happens to the Big 12 then in this scenario? The commissioners today more or less said today that’s up to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to figure out. No one is really clamoring for more screen time for the Texas Tech’s and Kansas State’s of the world right now, and these high-horsed schools didn’t get to where they are by being charitable to other institutions.
If I had to guess, the moniker Power Five becomes Power Four even after the Big 12 attempts to persuade Houston and Central Florida and Cincinnati and I dunno, Appalachian State (?) from joining its ranks. The SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC took their balls and went home.
And if the Big 12 doesn’t watch out, they’re going to cut down the nets and steal the turf while it’s sleeping.