This is not your father’s college football. The entire landscape of the game has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, and the changes continue to come.
On Thursday, the Big Ten announced a landmark new media rights deal worth $8 billion with Fox, CBS, and NBC. It’s the largest such deal in NCAA history and looks to eventually benefit every other major conference in college sports.
There’s a clause in the new deal that should be of special interest to Red Raiders fans that could help the Big 12 sooner than later.
The clause that adds another $2 billion to the deal should the Big Ten expand again. And that’s not a random addition, either. Clearly, the Big Ten isn’t done adding teams, and they anticipate further expansion soon.
It’s no secret that the Big Ten is interested in adding Notre Dame, and then would want Stanford after that to keep the Fighting Irish-Cardinal rivalry alive. But Notre Dame is seemingly set on remaining independent. So what’s next for the Big Ten?
Brett Murphy of Action Network revealed, “Even after adding USC and UCLA, the Big Ten ‘is not done’ expanding, sources told Action Network. Regardless of whether Notre Dame joins the Big Ten or remains independent, the league still wants to add more Pac-12 schools to help reduce potential travel concerns for USC and UCLA, sources said.”
With the loss of USC and UCLA, the PAC-12 is struggling to stay afloat, and other conferences have already discussed a possible poaching of the remaining teams.
And it only makes sense for conferences like the Big Ten, Big 12, and the SEC.
If the Big Ten becomes aggressive to initiate the escalator clause in its new deal, it might target teams like Oregon and Washington. And if they jump ship, it would be the equivalent of pulling the plug on a PAC-12 that’s already on life support.
That would open the door for the Big 12 to come calling on schools looking for a new home. Schools like Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado. That would be a huge win for a Big 12 that is struggling to remain relevant after the departure of Texas and Oklahoma in 2025.
New Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark visited Lubbock recently during his tour of all conference members, and sounded like the Big 12 might become aggressive suitors when speaking to the Lubbock Avalance-Journal about his remarks at Big 12 Media Days about the conference being “open for business”.
“When I say ‘open for business’, it means that this conference is no longer going to be stagnant,” Yormark said. “We’re going to be very proactive. We’re going to explore and identify any and all opportunities that create value in every respect. Is expansion a part of ‘open for business’? A hundred percent. But it’s only a small piece.”
No one knows what Yormark has in mind for the future of the Big 12, but it’s clear he’s not ready to sit back and let the new landscape of college football pass the conference by.
Follow Timm Hamm on Twitter at @IndyCarTim
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