So here’s what we know: The Colorado Buffaloes are heading back to the Big 12 despite being at Pac-12 Media Days just 120 hours ago! And because they replaced the worst commissioner in FBS history with, perhaps, the second-worst in George Kliavkoff (??), we can’t really blame them!
Again, this cannot be overstated: THE PAC-12 STILL HAS NO MEDIA RIGHTS DEAL WHEN THE NEXT COLLEGE BASEBALL SEASON IS OVER. AS OF RIGHT NOW, THERE WILL BE NO WAY TO WATCH ANY PAC-12 GAMES IN ANY SPORT AFTER MEMORIAL DAY.
When followed up on by @JamesCrepea, Kliavkoff says not to read too much into that direct quote too much regarding if a deal is actually done or not (which is in my opinion what he most certainly implied)— Richard Johnson (@RJ_cfb) July 21, 2023
So the Buffs head back from whence they came, and we’ve got a Pac-9 situation happening. We had a Pac-8 for a decade, which became almost 35 years of a Pac-10 followed by a Pac-12, but never a Pac-9. So just add San Diego State and keep it moving, right?
Wellllllll... according to Brett McMurphy of Action Network, the Aztecs might be available for greener pastures as well.
Big 12 will add b/w 1 & 3 schools to join Colorado in 2024, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. League will 1st seek others from Pac-12 to join. If none do so, Big 12 would add 1 Group of 5 (UConn, Memphis, SDSU or UNLV) to reach even number of teams in 2024https://t.co/j31J8IUMQN pic.twitter.com/rXcumkWoqn— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 27, 2023
And if the, ahem, “media-friendly” Big 12 commish Brett Yormark didn’t make it clear by his actions, his words certainly show he’s loving every second of dunking on his Best Coast neighbors.
A statement from the Commissioner. pic.twitter.com/UtGgY5WnTf— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) July 27, 2023
If you’re San Diego State, you’ve got some decisions to make. Your current Mountain West Conference mates already hate you, as you’re the roommate that just won the lotto but hasn’t closed on that new McMansion yet. Everyone knows you’re leaving, and the rest of the house has “can that guy just leave already??” vibes. The MWC likely has zero tolerance for any more extensions or agreements, so the Aztecs would like to cast their permanent lot sooner than later.
Of course these things are fungible, as Boise State was a member of the Big East once and even attended league meetings. Deals can get re-brokered, and until a school signs its life away via the broadcasting Grant of Rights, nothing is set in stone. But a constant state of flux can effect everything from sponsorship arrangements to recruiting.
Unless the Big 12 wants football-only, UConn seems like a terrible idea. While West Virginia would probably appreciate having another team in the Eastern Time Zone, the Huskies just won a national championship in men’s basketball. The Big East is a part of the school’s identity, and their decade-long sojourn through the American Conference showed that being football focused doesn’t work for them.
While the larger media dollars might be appealing to Storrs, having most of your alumni within a train ride of Madison Square Garden every March has more value to the Huskies than any other school in America. One surprising bowl season last year shouldn’t stand in the way of eons of evidence; UConn should stay in the Big East unless they can find a football-only league.
As for UNLV or Memphis, if a $30 million-ish annual jump in dollars from the Big 12 is available, you run don’t walk to that skyscraper in Irving, Texas and put your name on the dotted line. These are two, ahem, academically generous metropolitan institutions ...
but are also important brands for their region and big economic drivers. Getting in a league with some better competition and eyeballs can only be a win.
So the conference realignment calendar has opened yet again. Who goes where and how everything shakes out is still a guessing game at this point. But the destiny of many athletics programs worth billions of dollars will be determined by it.