Thursday, news broke that the Big 10 conference had signed a landmark $8 billion media rights deal with Fox, CBS, and NBC. It is the largest media rights deal in NCAA history and it includes a clause that could wind up helping the Big 12 in a roundabout way and that’s something Texas Tech football fans should keep an eye on.
The Big 10’s deal includes an escalator clause which means that if the conference were to expand again, the deal could reach up to $10 billion. It would be simply idiotic for the Big 10 to stand pat and leave a potential $2 billion sitting on the table. Therefore, further Big 10 expansion seems inevitable.
"According to Brett McMurphy of Action Network, “Even after adding USC and UCLA, the Big Ten ‘is not done’ expanding, sources told Action Network.”"
Of course, the apple of the Big 10’s eye is Notre Dame but many believe that the Irish are intent on remaining independent for the foreseeable future. So where will the Big 10 turn when it wants to add teams? The PAC 12.
"According to McMurphy, “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.”"
Since USC and UCLA announced their intentions of jumping to the Big 10, the PAC 12 has been on life support. And if the Big 10 were to pillage the PAC 12 once again and take such schools as Oregon and Washington, thus kicking in the escalator clause, it would signal the end of the PAC 12.
That would be the moment when schools like Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado would come groveling to the Big 12 looking for a safe place to land. That would be a huge win for the reconstructed Big 12.
Adding the Phoenix and Denver markets would be a nice coup for the Big 12 so long as those additions come before the conference negotiates its next media rights deal or the next deal has its own escalator clause. What’s more, the new Big 12 with those four PAC 12 schools included, would easily be the third-best football conference in the nation. That perception would be important as the new Big 12 will have to fight to gain a seat at the table when it comes to invitations to the College Football Playoff.
Also on Thursday, new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark paid a visit to Lubbock and Texas Tech as he continues his tour of all current and future Big 12 schools. And speaking to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, he sounded as if he is ready to make waves when asked about his Big 12 media days remarks 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,” he 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.”"
What Yormark has up his sleeve is anyone’s guess but it appears that he’s open to being the commissioner who goes outside the box to put the Big 12 in the best position possible. And if the Big 10 finally pulls the plug on the PAC 12, it will make Yormark’s job much easier.