The Pac-12 Conference has a new commissioner in George Kliavkoff and already there is speculation on what he might do differently and better than his predecessor, Larry Scott, who was one of of the most highly-regarded people in college athletics just a few years back. Kliavkoff is a former MGM Resorts executive and the belief is that he will be aggressive, make sure the Pac-12 has a big presence in Las Vegas, and possibly look at serious expansion.
Now it was 10 years ago that the Big 12 reportedly almost folded because several teams were going to leave for the Pac-12. It was reported that Oklahoma was 30 minutes away from leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12.
Well, we know how that worked out.
The Pac-12 is now, by far, the fifth of the Power 5 Conferences, especially in college football. But still those rumors of the Pac-12 going after the Big 12 is back.
Yahoo Sports put together a piece on 10 teams the Pac-12 will target for expansion and four Big 12 teams made the list:
No. 6 Texas Tech
No. 4 Oklahoma State
No. 2 Kansas
No. 1 Oklahoma
When it comes to the Oklahoma Sooners, Pete Fiutak writes:
“This is the first very quiet call the Pac-12 needs to make. If the desire is there to open up the talks again, welcome to the rock of a program that would cause an avalanche.
As great at Oklahoma has been sports-wise in the Big 12, the league is still owned by Texas. That’s the anchor tenant.
It might be USC’s Pac-12, but Oklahoma would be something different thanks to the geography and style. All of a sudden, the school would take on a new profile, that region would would have a different sports look, and the Pac-12 would love, love, LOVE to have a football program this big in the central time zone.
It would take something crazy, cool, and lucrative to get Oklahoma to think about this, but that’s what George Kliavkoff appears to be all about.”
I understand the desire for the Pac-12 to go hard after the Big 12, but the Pac-12 has struggled mightily on the football field for nearly half a decade now. Plus, their leadership and handling of COVID-19 last year was comical, at best.
What’s the benefit to any of these Big 12 teams in leaving a conference where they are making more money than they currently would in the Pac-12, have a much easier travel schedule in their conference, and appear to have more continuity than the conference has had in years, in large part thanks to the leadership of commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
It might all sound good, and yes, Kliavkoff is likely going to try and make a big splash, but there has to be something to gain for both sides in a monumental move like this. And for the Oklahoma Sooners, who own the Big 12, make north of $40 million in TV rights each year, and despite what Fiutak writes, I believe has equal power with Texas in the Big 12, where is their incentive?
But regardless, don’t kid yourself. Conference realignment rumors are coming back as we approach the end of the current conference TV deals in the next 2-4 years.