Report: Big 12, Pac-12 Commissioners to Discuss Possible Merger or Schedule Alliance

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2021

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 14: Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to the press during the Big 12 Conference football media days on July 14, 2021 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Commissioners from the Pac-12 and Big 12 will meet Tuesday to discuss a potential working relationship, according to The Athletic's Max Olson.

"Their meeting is expected to be a key first step in talks about whether the two conferences would benefit from strategically working together during college sports' new phase of realignment," Olson reported.

With current Big 12 programs Texas and Oklahoma set to join the SEC by 2025, fans are curious to see which dominoes fall next in college sports. Seismic shifts are likely, and officials from conferences and schools will want to act fast so they don't get left behind.

The Big 12 and commissioner Bob Bowlsby are in a difficult position because the Big 12's days as a power conference might be numbered.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic detailed how the level of interest in the Longhorns and Sooners dwarfed the rest of the member schools. In 2018 and 2019, Texas and Oklahoma averaged 3.2 and 3.8 million viewers, respectively, for their games. Everybody else in the Big 12 averaged 886,000.

Programs like Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and TCU don't have national profiles. That makes it difficult to recruit schools with big followings into the Big 12 or sidle up to another Power Five conference.

For the Pac-12, merging with a Big 12 that lacks Texas and Oklahoma may not move the needle.

Ralph D. Russo @ralphDrussoAP

I think at this point this helps the Big 12 more than the Pac-12 and the Pac-12 might not be best served helping the Big 12.<br><br>At least not yet. <a href="https://t.co/BtSnVSn2N8">https://t.co/BtSnVSn2N8</a>

Sam McKewon @swmckewonOWH

Big 12 beating the Big Ten to the punch? Or Pac-12 making Big Ten sweeten the scheduling pot? <br><br>There isn't a football game in the Big 12/Pac-12 inventory that moves a muscle. <a href="https://t.co/L5NWxkQnnq">https://t.co/L5NWxkQnnq</a>

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who hasn't had much time to settle into the job after taking over in May, said at the conference's media day last week that he doesn't view expansion as an inevitability:

"Given our investments in football and men's basketball, our historic domination of other sports, we do not think expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive. That said, the fallout from Texas and Oklahoma gives us an opportunity to once again consider expansion. We had already had significant inbound interest from many schools. We will work with our presidents and chancellors to evaluate these opportunities."

A scheduling arrangement would give the Pac-12 more games outside the Pacific Time Zone, which could help the conference expand its reach beyond the West Coast and Southwest.

All options should be on the table for the Pac-12 and Big 12, though the latter arguably stands to benefit more from a partnership.


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