Conference expansion has been the biggest off-the-field topic of conversation surrounding college football in recent memory, and any rumors, leaks, or sourced information surrounding the next potential merger, team leaving/joining a conference, or impending conference collapse flies off the shelves like hot cakes.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that the Gonzaga Bulldogs are in talks with the Big 12 about potentially joining the conference, which would completely shake up the college basketball landscape.
There have long been rumors and speculation that the corner schools in the Pac-12 (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) would jump ship to the Big 12 if teams like Oregon and/or Washington left for the Big Ten.
The Pac-12 and its television partners couldn’t reach an agreement on a new media rights deal during an exclusive negotiating window, but the Big 12 sure did and landed a deal that is worth around $380 million annually. That leaves the Pac-12 with a limited number of options to bolster its content to entice partners into some kind of deal.
One of those potential additions is San Diego State, who has long wished to be a member of the Pac-12 but until recently was never taken seriously.
According to John Canzano, a well-known columnist that covers the Pac-12, San Diego State might be popular property now, with the Big 12 suddenly interested as well.
Here is an interesting excerpt from Canzano’s report that details some interesting information and what it could mean for SDSU and its potential suitors.
The Pac-12 is kicking the tires. San Diego State wants to be a Power Five member. Also, the Big 12 is lurking and may have interest in SDSU as well. Over the weekend, the Big 12 announced it re-upped its media-rights deal with ESPN and Fox, netting an average of $31.6 million annual distribution for its members.
There’s something interesting in the Big 12’s new media deal, however. The pro-rata clause for expansion was only agreed upon by ESPN, which holds 63 percent of the new contract. Fox, which owns the other 37 percent, declined to include it. The clause also only allows for the addition of a Power Five member, per media insiders.
I bounced that tidbit off Bob Thompson, the retired president of Fox Sports Networks. He said: “Networks hate those clauses. Basically, the Big 12 doesn’t get any guaranteed extra money for adding San Diego State. It’s not automatic. And if they add a Power Five member, they’d only get 63 percent. The current members would have to take a haircut. That helps the Pac-12.”
It will be interesting to see where SDSU ends up, as it could wind up being a point of contention between already feuding conferences in the Pac-12 and Big 12.