EXPAND, CONTRACT, OR KISS BIG TIME PAC-12 FOOTBALL GOODBYE?

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The news of July, 22, 2021, as first reported by The Houston Chronicle, that Oklahoma (OK) and Texas (UT) were seeking to join the SEC was not for the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences a college sports bombshell, it was equivalent to an atomic blast.

Amazingly in this day and age of ‘instant news,’ discussions between OK, UT and the SEC, have apparently been on-going for six months without this news being leaked out and reported upon.

SEC commissioner, Greg Sankey, is member of the college football (CFB) steering committee. The steering committee has recommended that the CFB Playoff field expand from four to twelve participants.  Power 5 (P5) and Group of 5 (G5) conference champions, as ranked by the thirteen members of the CFB Playoff Committee (PC), and the six highest ranked teams that did not win a conference championship, would participate in the expanded Playoff.

Based on PC’s history of Playoff rankings to date, the SEC would likely get three and perhaps as many as five teams in the Playoff field season meaning even more cash for the SEC. If Sankey did have knowledge of the negotiations with OK and UT, (and how he could not) his failure to disclose same to the steering committee seems to me to be an ethical, if not a moral breach. But expect no reprimand for this behavior; after all, Sankey represents the SEC and impliedly, the CFB media cartel, ESPN.

OK and UT leaving the Big 12 means for all intent and purposes, the death of the Big 12 as a conference.

DC Photography

Texas has a ton of eyeballs watching, no dispute…

The impetus for OK and UT leaving is likely as follows? The Big 12 reached out to its broadcast partners ESPN and FOX to renegotiate the existing media deals before they expire in 2026. ESPN and FOX both declined to so negotiate. OK and UT know that in the SEC, especially with the SEC’s new $300M plus broadcast rights deal with ESPN, that they will more than double the money they would make as members of the Big 12.

It will take eleven of the fourteen existing SEC members to approve conference expansion. Count on a no vote from Texas A&M.

However, I believe the other SEC schools will note that adding Texas A&M to the SEC brought an additional ten million subscribers to the SEC Network. OK and UT joining the SEC would dwarf this number. The proposed expansion would also allow the ‘silent SEC member,’ ESPN, to get rid of the money losing Longhorn Network.

In regard to travel concerns? The SEC already has three members, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Missouri, in the Central time zone. So adding UT and OK is not in this regard, a big deal.

Football competition concerns with sixteen members in the league?  Texas A&M has been an SEC member for ten seasons. Georgia has yet to play a game at A&M? In other words, no one in the SEC gives a whip. Just show us the money.

ASU Twitter

George Kliavkoff (center) visiting Arizona State. (As if he doesn’t have enough challenges?)

Wither the Pac-12? I see two ways in which the Pac-12 can remain relevant: Expand or along with the Big 10, contract.

Expand? New Pac-12 Commissioner, George Kliavkoff, has already gone public with, ‘the Pac-12 is an exclusive club but any team looking to join; well, please give me a call.’

On July 23, 2021, the Big 12 athletic directors, sans OK and UT, in an emergency meeting, floated the idea of a merger of the remaining eight Big 12 teams, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia, merging with the Pac-12.

This is an idea I vouchsafed on FishDuck over a year ago. But such a merger I suggested would have included on-Broadway players, OU and UT.

Stewart Mandel, of The Athletic, noted in his take on the SEC possibly expanding, adding Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU, would make the Pac-12 a far more marketable entity. To some extent, as shown by his recent comments, the new Pac-12 commissioner must believe the same?

Regarding concerns the Pac-12 powers-that-be (PTB) might have over Baylor’s and TCU’s religious connections, these two schools today are far more secular than BYU and Notre Dame. TCU brings along the massive Dallas/Ft. Worth media market. Baylor brings along outstanding athletics in many the non-CFB men’s and women’ sports.

Melissa Macatee

Larry Scott did have some good ideas early on…

Regarding the PTB’s concerns about the Big 12 schools academic standing, the PTB’s were willing to forego these concerns when Larry Scott proposed his idea to merge with a number of Big 12 teams. And Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech would hardly be the lowest ranked academic institutions in the Pac-12.

Kansas and Kansas State, along with the above discussed four teams are in the Central time zone and perhaps, also worthy of consideration? Kansas would bring excellent academics and a long standing tradition of excellence in basketball.

Regarding travel distance concerns? Sorry but to remain a power player in CFB, the PTB’s will have to set such concerns aside. CU has already shared a conference with Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. One game a week CFB travel is not a big deal. Divisions can be arranged to limit travel for CBB and the non-revenue sports.

Also, expanding the Pac-12 into the Central time zone would likely afford Pac-12 revenue and non-revenue sport athletes to further benefit from NIL deals. And having three schools in Texas could not hurt Pac-12 recruiting in this talent rich state.

That’s what I have for Expansion. Please allow me to consider the counter-intuitive idea of Contraction.

Eugene Johnson

Larry, how can you just give this venue away so easily?

The BCS and the BCS x 2, the so-called Playoff took CFB from a regional to a national sport. It enriched the SEC and the SEC’s ‘partner,’ ESPN, and made Pac-12 CFB an after-thought.

Tom Hansen, followed by Larry Scott, gave away the Rose Bowl for trinkets. The result of this foolishness is only two Pac-12 schools currently recruiting-ranked in the top 25. Oregon sits ranked at an impressive at No. 8, with USC at a pedestrian No. 25. The next Pac-12 school is ranked in the 40s. Top recruits in the Pac-12 footprint now routinely trip east to Ohio State, the SEC and Clemson. (How nice would it be to have DGU starting at QB for the Ducks this season?) The Pac-12 Network and the Pac-12 media deals have hidden the conference’s CFB light under a bushel.

To date, the Big 10 and the Pac-12 have both sent only two of their member institutions on to the Playoff; Oregon and Washington, Ohio State and Michigan State.

My belief is that many of the academically oriented Pac-12 PTBs, and also the academically oriented Big 10 PTBS, are not thrilled with competing against the less robust academic institutions in the SEC, a conference that seems to always have at least one member in play-for-pay trouble. And a conference that compared to the sanctions levied on USC, Ohio State and even Oregon (no school other than Oregon was using a runner to help with recruiting, right?) seems, at least comparatively, to get away with it?

I also believe that many of these seem to be leaders who are not happy with constant CFB arms race?

Eugene Johnson

Isn’t this all we need? Let’s take it back!

So, how about going to the Big 10 and asking why the two conferences are swimming in the SEC/ESPN pool? Let’s take back the Rose Bowl and once again, and make the Rose Bowl game the sine qua non for the two conferences? To walk away from the Playoffs after 2026, to cancel out-of-conference games (OOC) versus the SEC, and institute the proposed OOC scheduling model between the two conferences that was cratered by USC because of the Trojan’s scheduling agreement with Notre Dame.

The USC/Stanford series with Notre Dame helps the Irish with recruiting the Pac-12 footprint and does nothing for the other Pac-12 member schools. It certainly does not help the Pac-12’s when both schools lose to Notre Dame.

Other than the big task of convincing the Big 10, what would be the key to such a move? FOX Sports.

FOX that already owns and operates the B1G Network and shares the broadcasting rights with ESPN. FOX Sports has already indicated its desire to become the sole media provider for the Big 10. A FOX, that with the demise of the B12, will need other broadcast inventory.

So FOX, take over (for a song which is what it is worth today) the Pac-12 Network (PN). Become the owner/operator of the PN and restructure and relocate the PN as you so desire. And concurrently, become the Pac-12’s sole media outlet. Kiss the guys and gals in Bristol, Connecticut who treat the Pac-12 and to some extent the Big 10 an after-thought, GOODBYE!

UO Athletics

Do all those empty seats portend the future of the conference?

Is this doable? I don’t know? Is expansion by adding remaining Big 12 schools doable? I don’t know?

But, at least in my opinion, the Pac-12 conference either expands as discussed above; or, in some other manner expands?  Or the conference works with the Big 10 to ‘contract,’ as also discussed above.

If one or the other does not happen, Pac-12 football will simply fade farther away from relevance.

Of course, you Ducks fans may have far better ideas as to where the conference should go?

I would love it if you will be good enough to share these ideas?

Jon Joseph
Aiken, South Carolina
Top Photo by Amazing Moments Photography

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I’ve had a blast writing without those duties, and now, due to a new agreement with the writers, I can announce that we will have articles seven days a week again. I wish to thank the writers publicly for their graciousness in coming to a solution, as now I still do not have do those extra duties with our agreement, and meanwhile the writers are back having fun creating articles as I am.

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Confusion about FishDuck? It will ALWAYS BE UP!

No matter how many times I write it–people are not understanding, as they think this site, FishDuck, is going to go dark? No!

It will always remain up for three reasons:

1) Because I just want to be a writer, and this is now my personal blog. (After ten years…I no longer wish to put the extraordinary amount of hours in recruiting, training, and managing a group of writers and editors)

I will be writing in August, and a couple of times a week during the football season, and those articles and analyses will be posted here on FishDuck, and the links to my articles will also be available on the new site PuddleHuddle, when it is up soon.

2) I want FishDuck up and alive so that all the links of prior articles and analysis article are available for me to link in my articles, and for the hundreds of writers over the last decade to show future employers their writing portfolio.

3) Since Coach Boles and Coach Mosier and I will be adding analysis articles here over this next season–I want FishDuck alive to place those analysis articles in my Analysis Library at FishDuck for all the high school coaches and players who come to this site every day.

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MaiTaiDuck

Well my guess is Oregon should with SC join the SEC. Then we continue the upward trajectory and even do better in recruiting which would include a 5 Star DT every class. Also a lot of high profile west coast recruits would go to SC and Oregon even more than usual. Something has to happen and quick. Larry Scott I never liked and he will only ever be remembered as the one that brought the conference of Champions down.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I’d rather play Washington and USC, instead of Florida and Georgia, IMHO.

Tandaian

I get the SEC is the top dog (in football only) but that top dog needs the rest of the pack to stay relevant. I have no idea how the Pac 12, B1G and the ACC let them get away with it. If the SEC doesn’t have the Pac 12, B1G and ACC, then they are irrelevant. Those 3 conferences really need to talk together and tell the SEC how this is going to work.

They really need to limit the payout for the playoffs. 2 teams get full compensation, then reduce it for each additional team from the same conference.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Oooh. I like your last two sentences….that would mess things up, hence why they would never allow!

Mudslide

Jon, thank you for a great article full of ponder points.

I don’t have the time for lending my 2 cents…or maybe a nickel trying to predict the CFB landscape. But I wanted to say that no matter how this football earthquake settles out, our Ducks will still be thriving and flying above the dust.

oregon111

First, lets talk about how much recruiting means:

Average Recruiting Ranking Over the Past 5 Classes:

1. Oregon – 11.2
2. USC – 19.8
3. Washington – 21.2
4. Stanford – 27
5. UCLA – 28.6
6. Utah – 34
7. ASU – 34.2
8. Cal – 44.4
9. Colorado – 46.4
10. WSU – 54.8
11. Arizona – 59.8
12. OSU – 67.2

As you can see, how these teams recruit almost exactly correlates to how a team plays, (with the Beavs doing a little better than expected).

So according to this, there are 5 pac12 teams that a real football teams, and Stanford used to suck when the Ducks started getting good.
So I give you Oregon, USC, UCLA and Washington as legit pac12 teams. ( UCLA, just because they are in LA and should get better when they get a coach who can recruit). And I think Stanford will decline back to normal.

The other 7 teams are about like the rest of the big12 without OK/TX.

So bringing in more mediocre teams isn’t going to impress anybody.

———–

Here is my plan:

Let Texas go to the SEC. We don’t need their drama – they would take over the pac12 if they joined. Texas is a SOUTHERN state, so they would not be a cultural fit with the west coast.

Get Oklahoma and OK St.

Take Nebraska from the Big10 – where they never fit in, never succeeded, and never got any recognition. They would also then be paired with Colorado for their old rivalry.

———–

Alright, so that is 15 teams… WHO WOULD BE #16?

I would go with Texas Tech. They are in west Texas. They have a wide open offense. It would be good for recruiting in Texas for all pac12 teams. They would be a cultural fit because west Texas is more western than southern in culture.

———–

pac16 North:

Washington
Wa St
Oregon
beavs
Cal
Stanford
Colorado
Nebraska

pac16 South:

USC
UCLA
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St
Texas Tech
Az
Az St
Utah

——–

Now, this would still not be as mighty and powerful as the SEC, but it would be a killer conference! It would help Nebraska and Colorado return to some former glory. Tech could develop a rivalry with the Arizona teams. OK St would play great football games with everybody.

And most importantly, the pac16 conference championship game would be BIG TIME. This would also balance out the power difference between the north and south in the pac12.

——–

Then the rest of the remaining big12 teams could go back and re-form some new version of the old southwest conference, and take in Arkansas as well. They would then be just like the Mountain West conference. Iowa St would go to the Big10 to take Nebraska’s place.

That would leave America with 4 major conferences – which would be perfect for figuring out playoff implications.

oregon111

But wait, there’s more…

I would take the division winners of the top 4 conferences and make them automatic qualifiers for the playoffs of 16 teams.

I would take the top 2 teams from the lesser conferences.

That leaves 6 wild card bids who did not win their division in the power 4 conferences.

All division winners would be seeded in the top 8.

Getting rid of the conf. championship games would mean 1 less extra game for teams, so the move to a 16 team playoff would only mean one extra game for most teams in the playoffs.

Major bowls would host the first 8 playoff games:

Then higher seeded teams would be the home team for the next two rounds.

Play the natty in Dallas Cowboy’s stadium.

oregon111

The only reason? OK would come into the Pac-12 as the premier team. Nebraska might believe it would have easier competition in the Pac-12?

Ok would end up being lower than Georgia, Florida, T A&M, and LSU. They would be at best the same rank as Auburn. I can’t see them being happy with that.

Texas can suck and still be Texas. Just because Texans are delusional. Oklahoma would have to win almost all the time to keep their fan base happy.

And Nebraska can’t play against all those Big10 linemen. They would play competitive games against all of the pac16.
Their fans are blaming it all on Scott Frost. It isn’t his fault. Nebraska will be an outlier in the big10, no matter who is coach.

So let Tx/Ok go to the SEC – and wait and see how long it takes before all the crying starts.

———————-

The best football has shifted over the years. USC had it for a while. Florida schools before that. Tx/Ok for a while. Now, it is the old south – La, Al, Ga, and NC is shifting upward. It is mostly because that is where the best recruits come from. In the old days, it was the big10 schools like Michigan, Ohio St, and Penn St. Nowadays, Ohio St has to recruit nationally to still be a powerhouse.

Texas and Oklahoma will get smoked in the SEC. They both will end up a lot like Tennessee.

Then to try and keep everybody happy, the SEC will fix the schedule so that the good teams seldom play each other. Just wait and see.

Then watch the crap hit the fan when Oklahoma wants to go to the playoffs when they play Arkansas, the Miss schools, Vanderbuilt, Tennessee, Missouri and a bunch of div. 2 cupcakes.

NJDuck

Though in your scenario I would keep the old PAC8 together in the North division and OK and Neb. in the South. To me it would seem a better fit.

Jon has a point financially speaking with OK and Neb. plus OK would not want to break up the old rivalry with UT.

oregon111

Tx/Ok rivalry. In the old days, when Texas was in the Southwest conference, they still played in early October every year. It was THE game of the year for both teams. Texas A&M was always the second rivalry for UT.

USC plays Notre Dame – its a big game and they are not in the same conference.

Texas broke up with T A&M, and nobody missed that affair.

——–

The problem with old pac8 vs everybody else is that Oklahoma is the only legit threat in the other division.

Gra

Interesting thought having the Big Ten and Pac 12 taking back college football. Personally, I would love and trust these confrences taking college football in the best direction than anyone else. What ESPN has done during the recent changes to college football thru the BCS or CFP is make it worse. It contiunes to help their biggest market (SEC) become more dominant either in reality just perception. Espn Now argues it’s not the most deserving teams but the best teams as they promote Alabama every day. Now Alabama can lose and still make the playoffs because their team is loaded with 5 stars and daily acolades in the arms race.

All I hear is how the Pac 12 is a failure and weak. While the Pac 12 has a better bowl record than any other conference except the SEC. It has the second-best bowl record too. The Pac 12 sends the second-most players to the NFL. The only reason ESPN and its extensive media outlets trash the Pac 12 is because we lack a football factory like Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, or Clemson. If you eliminate those teams from 14 team conferences the Pac 12 without question would be the healthiest confrence top to bottom.

WIthout Clemson the ACC would probaly be the sixth best confrence . Without Okalahoma the big 12 is a disaster as well.Clemson those two confrences are a disaster using out of confrence wins,bowl records and player development as a metrix rather than simply who wins a national champioship.

I am so tired of those factories getting promoted and getting in every year. I want Oregon (obviously) to get in but if they or another Pac 12 team does not get in am rootin for Iowa State. They potentially have a once every 20 year team for their program. How cool would college football be if teams with their once in a generation magical years like WSU with Garder menshew for instance make the playoffs.

The SEC and ESPN continue to change the rules to enrich the SEC. Case in point,the BCS was supposedly created to make college football more accesable to all after teams like Oregon were voted out of the champioship game in favor of Nebraska. What did college football look like during the BCS? Alabama played LSU after already playing and losing LSU ! Two SEC teams.

Thank you for a great read today.

VandownbytheriverDuck

The promotion issue is the pre and early season rankings.

Much harder to move up the rankings for lower ranked teams when SEC often play patsys weeks 1-3 and when they do lose to other SEC teams in the following weeks they don’t drop because of the perceived bias of playing “ranked” SEC teams.

There should be no pre season rankings and every conference should play the same number of conference opponents and on the same weekends. The committee that subjectively seeds the playoffs should make the rankings. There’s too much money at stake to allow E$PN rank teams or allow coaches who don’t watch all the other teams to make rankings based on pure speculation.

But then again when has the NCAA or ESPN ever truly cared about fairness or equity?

VandownbytheriverDuck

SEC give themselves essentially a late season bye week to rest starters with injuries and get second team players some snaps.

So you’re right, they wouldn’t do it voluntarily. Perhaps the PAC 12 should copy them and play the chico states and sosu type teams. Get a good rest and an easy win.

Stop scheduling tough OOC road games and play the SEC game.

DanLduck

I think expansion is the way to go. If Georgia hasn’t played at A&M in 10 years, then Pac12 can expand without huge travel distances each year.
Expanding the footprint would be significant for all the right reasons.

People are cutting cable more everyday. The future is streaming TV. Banking on ESPN might become an issue. So yes, expand and kick their a#@ goodbye!

Use the Rosebowl as the center piece to post season play. That is the perfect time slot, and the most beautiful setting for a New Years day celebration.

Is it always about the money?

Just once…can other considerations take place? Can we decide that we are not going to bust up our conference for money–or leave our conference for money and make the best of what we have?

Our brand is highly underutilized and has upside, and the Rose Bowl should OURS no matter what. Blowing all that up will leave us wistful for the old days when we argued about a poll in the newspaper. We will regret later all that we lost, and that we did it all for money.

And that could be a selling point in itself; we retain the traditions, the alignments, and hated rivalries and we will do well enough. Our players will still go to the NFL, and we will not be cannibalizing our win-loss record for money.

Go to an eight game conference schedule, and work on building the conference brand and the marketing end of it. All this stuff for the last dime is going to destroy the fan base that is currently worth something, and that could be built further.

LMJ Rose Bowl_Video.jpg
Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Amen to all your points and especially your skillful vocabulary choices to emphasize your displeasure while keeping it clean. Why indeed play Georgia?

I too, am…..

Mad 2 FP.jpg
DanLduck

For tv revenue, yes its always about the money. But I agree with your thinking. I wish it could be that way.
Expansion as JJ suggests would certainly expand the viewership, which would bring more $$ from advertising for sure.

NJDuck

Liking what you laid out, but I would prefer seeing the PAC12 and BIG10 come back to a contractual agreement, taking back the Rose bowl, form an alliance with FOX Sports and throw a monkey wrench into the SEC/ESPN holding the playoff and other conferences captive.

In one way it would be great if the PAC and BIG could form a super conference, but that would be impossible to do. Not sure how you would even navigate through such a huge conference.

NJDuck

Speaking of rumors. This article is talking about SEC approaching Ohio State and Michigan. Here we go now with rumors and half truth or no truth to it all. Let the conference realignment rumors in full onslaught begin.

https://sports.yahoo.com/latest-conference-realignment-rumor-states-123925223.html

Interesting comments by people pertaining to this article.

NJDuck

Great point Jon. Again, I for one hope for a PAC/BIG joining.

smith72

Thank you Jon you provide many good ponder points! The hope is the new Pac-12 commissioner and university presidents don’t fall asleep doing nothing.

Dale Newton

To win the PAC-12 in 2021, the Ducks have to be superb on the road.

http://duckstopshere.blogspot.com/2021/07/ducks-have-to-be-pac-12s-best-road-team.html

On realignment, the George Kliavkoff and the PAC-12 should think big, and rely on an old partnership with the Big 10.

http://duckstopshere.blogspot.com/2021/07/realignment-and-it-feels-so-good-or-eve.html

Notalot
Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Great stuff, and thanks for posting. His conclusion I did not see coming, and after reading his argument….would agree.

DanLduck

Talk about living in a glass house and throwing stones!!
This isn’t social media. Something done in the past shouldn’t be grounds to hurt the present, if it’s been dealt with!

Lou Farnsworth

My brother in law …living in Pueblo for the last 35 years….is a Baylor alum …both undergrad and Baylor Med.

IMHO….BYU and TCU would be good additions to the Pac12 from a lot of perspectives…not the least of which would be viewer base.

Notalot

You have done a good service, Jon, of laying out scenarios and some of the possible ramifications thereof. As the dominos begin to fall and programs leave or enter conferences the playing board and options change for the other schools.

Some universities steeped in traditions and layered decision making are like battleships. They are hard and slow to turn. Others are have consolidated decision making for sports and are more agile. It will be interesting to watch realignment play out over the next 5-7 years.

I wonder how the impacts of COVID-related losses suffered by some athletic departments play into realignment decisions? Is desperation pushing some to be reactive?

As much as we may not like it, the SEC and Big Ten are in the driver’s seats. And, we no longer can rely on the NCAA to maintain order and parity in college sports.

Notalot

I was not clear with my statement, but the 5-7 years is when the dust from this phase may settle. It looks like the initial thrust will be in the next 12-months. Time will tell. Watch for surprises and disappointments.

This will no longer be Grandma’s CFB landscape.

DanLduck

Do you think Notre Dame would end up joining a league, such as the ACC?
Especially if the playoffs expand?

oregon111

Notre Dame has too much ego to be in a conference and NOT win it each and every year.