Conference realignment: Big Ten interest in additional Pac-12 teams has cooled, Big 12 positioned well

There’s an enormous purpose why we have reached one other convention realignment crossroads. It facilities round a 51-year-old media government who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes for some time.

No matter how this spherical of reorganization ends, Mark Shapiro could have a major stake. The president of Endeavor — a robust world sports activities, leisure and content material firm — is at present advising the Big 12 on its subsequent media rights deal after its present settlement expires forward of the 2025 season.

You already know the Big 12 is in the center of rearranging itself for the second straight summer time because it gazes westward to probably seize some Pac-12 members. At the identical time, faculty athletics is anticipating the Big Ten’s new media rights contract, anticipated to be introduced any day. It might be the most important in historical past.

Those two issues are usually not unrelated. Back in 2004, Shapiro, then an ESPN government, provided former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany a take-it-or-leave-it deal to resume with the Worldwide Leader. Delany refused amid what he perceived to be a lowball provide.

“You are rolling the cube,” Shapiro infamously advised Delany.

“Consider them rolled,” Delany responded.

Delany additional monetized his convention’s rights by taking a few of them in-house and beginning his personal channel. The Big Ten Network has been wildly profitable, to the purpose that subsequent convention expansions to Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers contributed to that success. Those strikes supplied extra content material for the community as well as linear cable companions Fox and ESPN.

Delany then made one other sensible transfer that bought us to this second. In 2017, he signed a brief six-year, $2.64 billion cope with Fox and ESPN that has landed the Big Ten in the advantageous place it now finds itself: on the point of signing a $1 billion-plus annual media rights deal.

The circle is sort of full. Shapiro is amongst these ready for a Big Ten announcement that may virtually assuredly reshape convention alignment and probably faculty athletics. The measurement of the deal may compel additional motion, pressure Notre Dame into the Big Ten and/or additional consolidate energy inside the Big Ten (and SEC).

Perhaps none of it will have been attainable with out Delany’s imaginative and prescient being accelerated by Shapiro’s lowball bid. Thus far, Shapiro is getting excessive marks for his work with the Big 12. In truth, convention athletic administrators are giddy at what Endeavor has already achieved by positioning the Big 12 forward of the Pac 12 — if solely barely — in phrases of incomes energy.

Without Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 is valued north of $30 million yearly per college, CBS Sports reported final week.

“The numbers appear like they favor us,” one Big 12 AD mentioned. “Not by an enormous quantity. This just isn’t like evaluating Texas to Texas State. But there appears to be a noticeable distinction.”

Conference realignment pocket book

Further growth may create authorized issues

The solely convention commissioner to run a 16-team league in the trendy period has a warning for the SEC and Big Ten: Beware of the authorized ramifications of increasing past 16 teams.

Karl Benson, former commissioner of the previous WAC, presided over 16 members from 1996-98 earlier than the league collapsed on itself as a result of — shock — the cash did not stretch far sufficient. When BYU was overlooked of the Bowl Alliance (the precursor to the BCS) regardless of turning into the primary Division IA (now FBS) staff to win 14 video games, Senate hearings have been convened. The phrase “collusion” was tossed round because it associated to school soccer’s powers holding different applications at bay. That phrase may pop up once more.

“Maybe the explanation Washington and Oregon did not go together with USC and UCLA [to the Big Ten] on the similar time is the worry of collusion,” the now-retired Benson advised CBS Sports. “That’s a respectable concern of the damages that one convention does to a different.”

The stakes are increased this time. The SEC and Big Ten have an opportunity to monopolize the game. Perhaps that has already occurred. Administrators inside each leagues are treading flippantly out of an consciousness of antitrust points. Well, typically. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has mentioned he may stage a playoff together with his personal league.

“[No one has] ever gone in and gutted a convention,” Benson added. “If the Big Ten gutted a convention and took Washington and Oregon, [if I was Pac-12 commissioner] George Kliavkoff, I’d pursue antitrust motion there.”

Big Ten interest has cooled in Pac-12 teams

After the anxiousness brought on final week relating to (*12*)additional Big Ten growth, trade sources have indicated the Big Ten is not in including California, Oregon, Stanford and Washington. Rights holders have been balking at paying the identical quantity for these faculties because the 16 Big Ten faculties going ahead ($80 million-$100 million).

While these 4 applications might finally have choices, the Big Ten is concentrating on its new deal in 2023 whereas making an attempt to lure Notre Dame, which has an open invitation. More and extra stakeholders now imagine the Fighting Irish will in the end stay unbiased.

Opportunity misplaced

Let’s not neglect the Pac-12 had its likelihood to bolster its ranks final 12 months when the Big 12 was wounded by the exits of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. Sources advised CBS Sports this week the Pac-12 vote was 8-4 in opposition to taking any Big 12 faculties. It would absolutely be fascinating to seek out out these Pac-12 faculties who voted for growth a 12 months in the past. We already know USC president Carol Folt “shut down” interest in growth.

“We all would have jumped,” one Big 12 AD advised CBS Sports in reference to the Pac-12’s interest in entering into Texas.

Pac-12’s future might hinge on a time zone

Late-night West Coast video games are known as occurring the “Fourth Window” — after 10 pm ET. As a lot ribbing because the Pac-12 has obtained for these video games (#Pac12AfterDarkish), there isn’t a means round them. They are priceless programming that fills late-night TV slots with assured scores.

That’s why the late window is vital for the Pac-12. It could also be why ESPN may stay engaged with the convention past Thursday’s reported expiration of an unique 30-day negotiating window. Without the Pac-12, ESPN might not have late-night soccer. Fox is already set there with its Mountain West contract.

One trade course speculated: If ESPN does not get a chunk of the Big Ten, does it go all-in with no matter is left of the Pac-12? More importantly, if ESPN does get a portion of the Big Ten, does the Pac-12 proceed to market with out both of the 2 greatest faculty soccer rightsholders (ESPN, Fox) having interest?

“That’s an enormous benefit for us to mainly get what we wish in growth with [the Pac-12],” one Big 12 supply advised CBS Sports. (Cue the vultures.)

The Big 12 stays well-positioned

Fox and the Big 12 disagreed 5 years in the past when the convention was including again its championship sport. Figures weren’t accessible, however sources mentioned Fox did not need to pay the worth deemed for the sport by the Big 12’s media advisor. Last summer time, former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued (*12*)as strident a takedown of ESPN as any of us had skilled. But in the case of the nitty gritty of the enterprise – media rights – bygones can all the time be bygones.

The Big 12 continues to be engaged with each Fox and ESPN for its new proper deal, which is able to start in 2025.

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