Two of college football’s top conferences are going to go head-to-head in non-conference action starting in 2017. The Big Ten and Pac 12, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski on Wednesday, are going to organize a full conference vs. conference schedule agreement pitting all 12 members of each conference head-to-head for at least one game beginning in the 2017 season.
The move adds appeal on a national level to both conferences, already highly regarded in collegiate athletics, and gives a boost to strength of conference for both. The move is also thought to blend in to college basketball and other Olympic sporting events as well, but the focus will primarily remain on football.
In an age of expansion and maximizing television revenue, the idea comes off as not so much something new, but one that few conferences would be able to pull off. Both conferences have 12 members and the plans seem to be to cross promote the brands through their accompanying media packages, with the Big Ten utilizing the Big Ten Network and the Pac 12 using their Pac 12 networks to cover the partner conference in some fashion, and to bring more college athletics coverage to both branded networks.
It is the cooperation between the two long-time Rose Bowl partners that seems to make this a rewarding experience for both the Big Ten and Pac 12. Could the SEC and Big 12 work out a deal like this? Or the ACC and Big East? Possibly, but to see the Big Ten and Pac 12 work out their own plan seems both fitting, and the easiest to pull off.
“Rather than go down the road of just trying to add members, we thought this was a way to keep who we were and an increase value for everybody,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told Wojciechowski. “It doesn’t mean you can’t expand one day. It seems to us this is an intelligent way to get stronger and do so with zero collateral damage.”
Delany’s counterpart from the Pac 12, Larry Scott, echoed those thoughts.
“We’ve obviously explored the possibility of going beyond 12 (teams),” Scott said in the ESPN.com report. “I’ve been a believer, philosophically, of that if it made sense. Now I don’t see us expanding anytime in the foreseeable future. A lot of what we can do through collaborating with the Big Ten will help us accomplish some of the same things.”
With non-conference schedules largely filled for a majority of the members of the Big Ten and Pac 12, the target date of 2017 is the most realistic starting date for the full conference vs. conference plan to unfold.
Kevin is a national college football writer for lodeplus.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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