In the suddenly uncertain world of rapid change and realignment in collegiate sports, one conference is offering stability.
Last week there were rumors circulating that the Pac-12 was looking to expand by as many as four teams to become the Pac-16. Those rumors have since been muted. Initially it was stated that University of Texas, Texas Tech University, University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University could be joining the newly formed Pac-12, which is in its first year of play as a 12-team conference. The University of Utah and the University of Colorado were added to the Pac-10 last year, creating the two six-team division Pac-12.
Revenue share was the main issue behind this deal not being made. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was not able to get Texas to agree to equal revenue sharing. Texas has its own television network, the Longhorn Network. If the Pac-12 added these four teams, 15 of the teams in the conference would play by one set of rules, and Texas would have its own set due to the Longhorn Network. In the end this wasn’t an option that the Pac-12 wanted to deal with.
In the wake of major changes all around collegiate sports, the affirmation that the Pac-12 will remain at 12, gives fans of the conference a sense of stability. The same cannot be said for the Big-12, Big East, SEC, or ACC.
With the Pac-12 deciding to not pursue expansion, this will help the SEC-bound Aggies of Texas A&M. Texas A&M was set for the SEC, before lawsuits were filed against them by other Big-12 schools. If the four schools that were being considered by the Pac-12 remain in the Big-12, it will add a sense of stability and might encourage the schools to breathe easier and allow Texas A&M to leave for the SEC and waive their right to sue.
The Big-12 is now down to nine teams. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor, along with the four aforementioned teams make up the nine-team conference, which will surely be looking to add a tenth. One target of the Big-12 is the newly independent BYU. In their first season as an independent, the Cougars are a ‘maybe’ for the Big-12. Football is the only independent sport for BYU, the remaining sports teams are now a part of the West Coast Conference, after their previous years in the Mountain West.
The SEC has made known that they plan to stay at 12 teams for now. The SEC can take time deciding if they choose to expand. Some possible targets for expansion include the Big-12’s Missouri, and the Big-East’s West Virginia, although Missouri is facing a short timetable. They will need to decide soon whether or not they decide to stay in the Big-12.
Last week Syracuse and Pittsburgh left the Big-East conference as they head for the perennial powerhouse, the ACC. The Big-East, which is one of the strongest basketball conferences in the nation, has seen its share of struggles on the gridiron, and was shaken by the schools’ decisions to leave. The rivalries in the Big-East are some of the strongest in college sports. With Syracuse heading to the ACC, UConn, and Rutgers could eventually follow.
With changes all occurring to the Big-East, ACC, SEC, and Big-12, collegiate sports seem to be standing on the fault line of an earthquake. There might still be aftershocks that will further shake down the conferences and stir up rivalries of old, and new. But for now, Utah and the Pac-12 seem to be sitting on stable ground in one of the dominant conferences in the nation.