In a move that could shift the paradigm of college football, the Big 12 is reportedly in the exploratory stages of a partnership with the ACC and two other conferences. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman about the possible shift on Friday:
We've had conversations with three other leagues. The ACC is one of them. It's a process of discovery that would provide some of the benefits of larger membership without actually adding members.
Though Bowlsby refused to divulge the other two conferences (one is speculated to be the Pac-12) and said nothing was imminent, the possibility of "alliances" could be huge. Conference expansion has run rampant in recent years, as the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten have all made waves throughout the NCAA by adding new schools.
Most of these moves have led to rampant speculation about "super-conferences," but expansion is ultimately viewed as a double-edged sword. Adding teams, and new markets as a result, ostensibly leads to networks forking over more money in television contracts.
However, conference expansion also mucks up traditional rivalries and forces universities to divide revenue between even more parties.
Alliance-type agreements could represent a happy medium for all involved. By agreeing to meet one another in non-conference matchups, these aligned conferences can "expand" into new markets without the pitfall of further-divided revenue.
As with all similar agreements, the Big 12's exploratory talks are simply designed to bring in more money for the conference. However, a move like this could end all of the craziness and flip-flopping we've seen over the past half-decade—something that fans of just about every conference would welcome.