The funniest quote from yesterday, by far, was this:
“George [Kliavkoff] is bold,” a source said. “I’m curious what he’s working on right now.”
If there’s a fine line between genius and panic, I’m pretty sure I know which side of the line Kliavkoff finds himself right now.
On the one side, he sees the Big 12 trying to poach several members of his conference.
The Big 12 is involved in deep discussions to add multiple Pac-12 programs as a way to shore up its membership in the wake of the USC and UCLA defection to the Big Ten, sources tell CBS Sports. At least four teams are being considered with the potential for the Big 12 to add more as realignment continues to shake out.
Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were mentioned specifically as the teams being targeted by the Big 12, sources tell CBS Sports. There is also consideration of adding Oregon and Washington to make the Big 12 an 18-team league, the largest in the FBS.
A merger of the Big 12 and Pac-12, in some form, is also a possibility.
“Everything is on the table,” said one Big 12 source.
So, what’s Bold George got to offer in response? Media negotiations. Accelerated media negotiations.
The Pac-12 is pushing up negotiations for its next media rights agreements in the wake of the decision by UCLA and USC to leave for the Big Ten.
The Pac-12 announced that its board of directors authorized negotiations after a meeting Tuesday morning.
The conference’s current media rights deal expires in 2024, but the Pac-12 accelerated the timeline for negotiations for the next one with two of its marquee programs headed out the door.
It’s very thoughtful to allow the four schools weighing their options the opportunity to evaluate a real dollar value on their choices, but, considering that the conference is bound to negotiate only with Fox and ESPN, it’s hard to see that as a way to staunch the bleeding.
It turns out that’s not Bold George’s real ace in the hole, though. Unbelievably, this is.
The ACC and Pac-12 have discussed what has been termed a “loose partnership” that could end the season with the conferences playing a “championship game” in Las Vegas, sources confirm to CBS Sports.
The concept, believed to have been proposed by the ACC, is seen as a way for the conferences’ common rightsholder, ESPN, to increase the value of their current media rights contracts.
It’s not likely this proposal would have much impact considering ESPN has cost certainty with the ACC in a contract that lasts through 2036. The Pac-12 is trying to survive after the loss of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024. Rights for Pac-12 teams without the California powers are now worth about $30 million annually, down from approximately $42 million per program with the Trojans and Bruins in the fold.
John Canzano first reported the proposed the Pac-12 discussing a “loose partnership” with another conference Tuesday afternoon, noting some regular-season crossover games could be played in addition to the “championship game.”
Sources indicate the proposal is viewed as a “strength in numbers” move. While the 24 combined ACC and Pac-12 teams wouldn’t have nearly the clout of the 32 programs combined in the SEC and Big Ten, it would be something to combat the growing financial gap between those burgeoning superconferences and everyone else.
What a cool idea! Maybe they could come up with a catchy name for it, something like, you know… The Alliance. That Kliavkoff is supposedly willing to enter into another loose partnership, or whatever you want to call it, after just seeing the last version explode into flames is mind boggling. But such is the intellectual level of the people running college football, I guess.
Anyway, a couple of final thoughts on all this maneuvering:
- First of all, geniuses don’t put all this stuff out there for public consumption. Just ask the Big Ten and the SEC how that should work. Kliavkoff is desperate to avoid the collapse of the Pac-12. All he’s got is this open flailing to show he’s trying. It’s not a good look.
- As far as the “loose partnership” goes, it may be an attempt by the Pac-12 to grab a lifeline, but what it really looks like is an effort by the ACC to force ESPN to renegotiate its rights deal with the conference. Hard to see how it would move the needle, though. And does anyone besides me think that if this were to become a reality somehow, the ACC/Pac-12 “championship game” would be a full-fledged invitation for the Big Ten and SEC to go down that same road, with far more impactful results? Mickey isn’t your friend, George.