The Big 12 and the Pac-12 talked on Tuesday. Information download is how people saw the meeting between Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and Big 12 boss Bob Bowlsby.
It sounds like there is plenty of the table, reportedly. It could include a scheduling alliance or some other sort of partnership.
But let’s explore the easiest scenario — what if the Big 12 and the Pac-12 simply merge and become a 20-team superconference?
It might be the only scenario that allows it to keep up with the SEC, the ACC and the Big Ten, and yes ‘keeping up’ is stretching it a bit. But if you believe the estimate that Oklahoma and Texas are roughly half of the Big 12’s value, then merging with the Pac-12 is probably their best shot at keeping their current TV payday at an acceptable level. Plus, you have to convince the Pac-12 that a merger is worth it to them.
Fortunately, merging the two leagues doesn’t look THAT hard on paper.
First, agree to do it. That will take some wrangling, of course, with the Pac-12’s relationship with the Big Ten being one potential stumbling block. After all, what’s to stop the Pac-12 from merging with the Big Ten, its long-time partner at the Rose Bowl?
For the Big 12 and the Pac-12, the priority should be on keeping up with the Joneses, not remaining wedded to past agendas. If this is going to work, the two leagues have to keep it about the convenience the marriage represents.
Next, keep the alignment simple. For this exercise, we’ll assume that all 20 teams would stay. In that case, it’s easy:
East Division: The Big 12 ‘Eight,’ plus Colorado and Utah.
West Division: The remaining 10 members of the Pac-12.
For football, let’s keep the 12-game schedule simple, too.
First, everyone plays everyone in their division (Hey, Pac-12, time to get use to what we like to say in Big 12 country — ‘Every Game Matters’). After those nine games, play two crossover games with the other Pac-12 division. Game 12 is up to the school.
This alignment helps with travel for many of these schools. It’s also helpful for West Virginia. It basically guarantees it will make just one trip cross-country per football season, plus one trip to either Colorado or Utah. It’s a minor nudge in everyone’s travel budget.
For basketball, keep the divisions, meaning that each team would play a double round-robin. But, in late January, where the Big 12 typically plays its ‘SEC Challenge,’ I would let that go and play a three- or four-day crossover tournament between the two divisions at a neutral site. Give each program three guaranteed games against the other division. Do it in a city big enough to have the men and women there at the same time. ESPN would love the programming.
This, naturally, makes it sound easier than it is. The reality that any merger between the two leagues would likely be messier than a simple marriage of convenience. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like the Pac-12 is in any hurry, and they shouldn’t be. If we’re being honest, the Pac-12 has a better hand at the moment. The remaining Big 12 teams have to prove their value. It sounds like that’s part of what Tuesday’s conversation was all about.
But there is value in togetherness when it comes to these two conferences. The REAL question is exactly how MUCH value there is. But if the two leagues want to keep a merger simple, that’s how you could do it.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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