Pac-12 in danger of final collapse As the Big Ten contemplates further expansion, Big 12’s interest looms

The Big Ten’s ongoing pursuit of four Pac-12 schools is leading to concern that another round of expansion could lead to the collapse of Pac-12, industry sources told CBS Sports. That’s as Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren continues to seek an offer from Amazon, or potentially another partner, for additional revenue from media rights in the Big Ten football.

A show that’s big enough will likely convince the Big Ten chiefs that California, Oregon, Stanford and Washington will be valuable additions to the league from the Pac-12. This figure is believed to be less than $100 million annually.

If the Big Ten made such a move, it would certainly increase the likelihood that the Big 12 could get a mix of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah out of Pac-12, thus crushing Pac-12 and hanging Oregon and Washington State to dry.

“If that was [Big Ten move] Happening, I think the other [four Pac-12] “Schools are going to want to jump into our league,” said a senior 12 source familiar with the situation.

Without a clear mandate, the chiefs of the Big 10 companies and sports directors are continuing to assess whether the expansion is “financially feasible” and potential candidates are “culturally appropriate,” conference sources told CBS Sports. No vote on expansion has been taken at this time.

The Big Ten completed a landmark media rights deal last month worth more than $8 billion over seven years starting in 2023. Amazon reportedly made a larger bid to buy the Big Ten at 3:30 p.m. ET and prime-time windows than other applicants . Those windows went to CBS and NBC, respectively.

If the Big Ten already rejects such an offer, the concerns are likely to be distribution and visibility. These same concerns would persist if the Big Ten accepted the four additional Pac-12 schools.

Industry gossip led Oregon and Washington state to move to Mountain West in the event of a Pac-12 meltdown. At that point, MWC will replace Pac-12 as the largest FBS conference located entirely in the mountain and Pacific time zones.

Adding to the plot, the Big Ten and the Big 12 share the same media rights advisor, Endeavor, a global sports and entertainment company.

CBS Sports reported last month that Endeavor was advising the Big 12 on whether they should add Pac-12 programs. Earlier this summer, CBS Sports reported that Big 12 was interested in the “Four Corners” programs mentioned above.

Since then, officials from Oregon and Washington have met with the Big Ten, according to multiple media reports. Earlier this month, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said for the first time publicly that he was interested in expanding to PAC-12.

“Obviously going out west is where I want to go – entering that fourth time zone,” he told The Athletic.

Whether the Big Ten expands again, the Big 12 is expected to remain interested in either two or four Pac-12 schools.

The possibility of reorganization – following the migration of the USC and UCLA to the Big Ten – caused turmoil in the industry.

“Let’s be very clear: There is no Pac-12 school joining the Big 12,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkov told CBS Sports in July.

Publicly, the remaining 10 Pac-12 schools showed a united front. The association advanced negotiations on a new media rights deal in July. The difference is that the Big Ten already has their new deal in place. A media rights agreement was signed in August, cementing the Big Ten’s position in the earnings. Starting in 2023, Big Ten schools are expected to earn an average of $75 million annually.

Meanwhile, the current Big 12 deal with Fox and ESPN won’t expire until 2025; However, Big 12 opened media rights discussions with its partners early on and hopes to seal a deal sooner and richer than what the Pac-12 can get. The conference stated that $46.2 million was distributed to each school in the last fiscal year. This includes Oklahoma and Texas, which are due to transition to the SEC in 2025 at the latest.

Industry sources estimate the 10-team Pac-12 game to be between $21 million and $30 million per school annually after the loss of USC and UCLA. The Pac-12 deal with Fox and ESPN expires in 2024.

The possibility of a merger between Big 12 and Pac-12 ruled out in july. No combination of the Big 12 and Pac-12 programs will result in a significant increase in revenue compared to the teams remaining in their conferences, multiple industry sources have repeatedly reported over the past few months.

The Big 12 sources retracted that assertion, saying the league’s next media rights contract – including newcomers BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF – would reflect an increase over the current deal.

It is believed that the current rights holders of the Big Ten, Fox and ESPN, remain opposed to expanding the conference further. It is in the interest of both networks to have a Pac-12, if for no other reason than to be sure of the cost. After losing the new Big Ten deal, ESPN aims to have games playable in the “fourth window” — after 10 p.m. Fox already has games in that window through its agreement with Mountain West.

As the Big Ten’s primary partner, Fox will likely consider four additional Pac-12 schools “diluted” for the Big Ten. Opponents of Big Ten’s expansion continue to baffle their heads wondering how Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington could bring enough value to the conference.

the answer? They do not. At least at first glance. However, Warren’s play may be getting into the ground floor with Amazon during a time when broadcasting is more catching up with linear cable. That hasn’t happened yet despite the success of Amazon NFL ratings this season with Thursday Night Football.

The addition of four more Pac-12 schools will expand Big Ten content, giving the conference approximately 112 games per year. Amazon, or its newest media partner, is likely to get a fifth, sixth or seventh pick from the Big Ten home game each week.

An industry observer compared the level of potential content available to what was viewed per week on the Big Ten Network. Think games like California vs. Rutgers, Northwestern vs. Stanford and Oregon vs. Indiana. (As CBS Sports reported last week, the latest media partner won’t be getting any games involving Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.)

Another industry critic emphasized that there is no strategic reason to expand the Big Ten. In fact, this person thought the expansion might invite lawsuits from reckless programs and potential scrutiny from the federal government.

If the Big Ten and/or Big 12 move for the Pac-12 programs, the potential collapse of the Pac-12 could come amid FBS commissioners expanding the College Football Playoff. Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey is among those who advocated the CFP’s expansion to make the sport more of a national game.

Pac-12 has participated in CFP only twice in eight years.

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