Big 12 Exploring Media Rights Projections to Lure Pac-12 Schools: Report

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In the last seven days we have been seemingly teetering on the brink of having the Big 12 expand to 16 teams as the Pac-12 crumbles after losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.

In a recent article from ESPN, Pete Thamel said that the talks between the Big 12 and Pac-12 were “overstated,” although there are definitely talks going on behind the scenes that could cause more realignment.

Another interesting tidbit came from Thamel’s story, pertaining to the Big 12’s persuasion tactics to make additions to the conference.


Here is what Thamel had to say about what the Big 12’s next move might look like.

The extent of the Big 12’s discussions with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were overstated in reports this week. But there’s certainly been back channel conversations and interest, as new commissioner Brett Yormark has followed through on his vow to be aggressive. A commissioner can only be as aggressive as his pocketbook, and that’s where the next step comes.

The Pac-12 has basically convinced the four schools being courted to slow down and see what the numbers look like on a potential ACC partnership before they make any decision. “Everyone is kind of waiting,” an industry source said.


If that proposed deal is as financially flimsy as expected, the Big 12 conversations with those four schools could heat back up. If one of those schools breaks away from the Pac-12 and commits to the Big 12, a domino effect could soon follow. And that domino of four schools could end up being six, with Oregon and Washington following for safe ground.

Hence the flurry of chatter this week about media consultants, who are common in conference television agreements. The Big 12 needs to sell schools on a robust financial future, and it has the option of pitching a short deal to the new members to see how it all works. Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado need to decide whether sticking with Oregon and Washington until they are eventually lured away or look east and build an identity facing that way.


The Big 12 is in the thick of those media rights projection conversations, or at least finding the folks to dig them up. It is exploring media consultants to run out the numbers on what the league’s television deal could look like after it expires following the 2024 football season.

With the landscape so volatile and with so many unknowns around streaming, there’s inherent ambiguity on where the Big 12 numbers could end up that far out. Ultimately, the Big 12 is going to get some projections, and so will the ACC/Pac-12. (The Pac-12 is also running numbers about staying at 10 or adding schools, too.)

Essentially, a spreadsheet is going to point to the future. And for the Big 12, the valuations can help fuel the league’s aggression.

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