In the aftermath of last week’s bombshell news that USC and UCLA are bolting Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, there’s a lot of negotiating, and scrambling, going on

Tuesday morning, the Pac-12 issued a statement: “The Pac-12 Board of Directors met this morning and authorized the Conference to immediately begin negotiations for its next media rights agreements.”

This comes on the heels of a report that the Big 12 is meeting with Pac-12 members Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State Tuesday. 

However, a high-ranking Utah official refuted that report Tuesday in the strongest of terms, telling the Deseret News that the suggestion that Utah is meeting with the Big 12 “absolutely false.”

The source added that Utah “is tethered closely and strongly aligned with Pac-12 leadership and league members.”

Pac-12 insider Jon Wilner tweeted Tuesday that it’s “Not unreasonable to assume” that those four Pac-12 schools, as well as Oregon and Washington, told commissioner George Kliavkoff, “We are going to pursue offers unless you can show us the $$$$ and a plan. Starting formal media negotiations allows him to get creative and present options.”

A year ago, the Big 12 lost its two biggest brands, Texas and Oklahoma, to the SEC but responded by adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF

There’s plenty of speculation that the Big 12 and Pac-12 could end up merging. 

CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd reported Tuesday that 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.”

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Added Dodd: “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.”

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ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel described what’s going on right now with the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC in the wake of the Big Ten’s power grab.

“So where’s the next likely action amid the realignment landscape? Well, the most jockeying, consulting, back-channeling and speculation are centered around the race for No. 3. With the Big Ten and SEC having established themselves as a Power 2, the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are scrambling to attempt to solidify or build the next best league.

“What’s unfolding in those three leagues is the quintessential college sports scenario where members are pledging fidelity to league members on Zooms while side texting about leaving for other leagues. Commissioners are chatting about potential deals among one another and privately crunching the numbers with consultants to poach the other’s members. Conference allegiance these days comes with all the romance and permanence of a Tinder swipe.”

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