Is Big 12 really a ‘step down’ from the Pac-12?
One of the next steps in realignment could involve some kind of a merger between the two conferences in an attempt to not fall too far behind the Big Ten and the SEC
While the Big 12 will soon be losing Texas and Oklahoma, the conference has reestablished itself as a Power Five league thanks to its on-field performance and by adding four schools that will join next summer: BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida.
Since 2016, the Big 12 has had four teams qualify for the College Football Playoff, while future member Cincinnati qualified last season. In basketball, the Big 12 boasts NCAA Tournament champions the past two years — Baylor and Kansas.
The Pac-12 hasn’t had a team in the CFP since 2017 and hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament basketball title in 25 years.
Yet when it comes to realignment, there’s a perception that for the Pac-12 schools — like Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — that could join the Big 12 after USC and UCLA bolted for the Big Ten, such a move would be a “step down.”
The Athletic’s Andy Staples recently addressed that issue.
“The lineup the Big 12 expects to have after Oklahoma and Texas leaves feels like a more fun, more entertaining league than the lineup the Pac-12 (Pac-10 again?) would have, assuming no other changes besides USC and UCLA leaving,” Staples wrote. “Both leagues have programs (Oregon and Washington/Oklahoma State, Baylor, Cincinnati, UCF) that seem capable of regularly being top-10 caliber with the right leadership. But the Big 12 feels as if it has a deeper middle. BYU, Iowa State, Houston, Kansas State, TCU and Texas Tech all feel capable of putting high quality teams on the field on a regular basis.”
One of the next steps in realignment could involve some kind of a merger between the two conferences in an attempt to not fall too far behind the Big Ten and the SEC.
“I do think some manner of consolidation between the two leagues would help create a conference that could forge a new media rights deal that would land at No. 3 behind the Big Ten and SEC in terms of per-school revenue,” Staples wrote. “But the obvious downside of that is that short of a full merger — which would create a 22-team league — some schools would get left by the wayside depending on which league took control.”
During Big 12 football media day this week, new commissioner Brett Yormark addressed the potential of expansion.
“I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest,” Yormark said. “People understand the direction of the Big 12, and we’re exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent, but we’re working hard to make sure that we position the Big 12 in the best possible way on a go-forward basis.”
Wrote Staples: “What makes this so interesting is that when Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff makes the same address at Pac-12 media days, he could say the same thing and also be telling the truth. At this point, a lot of entities are exploring a lot of options.”