So many rumors and moving pieces in NCAA conference realignment are happening, and with UCLA and USC moving to the BIG 10, where will Arizona end up?
UCLA and UCLA will escape playing the University of Arizona Basketball in conference play in 2024 because they just left the Pac-12 for the Big10 as you may have seen and heard already.
It was for the money, an estimated extra $50+ million per year to be exact. By comparison, the Pac-12 distributes about half that (approximately $350M of the Big 10s $650M+). Almost everyone agrees that it’s all former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and the slow-moving current commissioner George Kliavkoff.
And with so many rumors regarding Arizona, it is difficult to keep up. We have the latest, but it might not clear anything you thought you may have heard.
Just today, the Pac-12 said it “would immediately begin negotiations on its next TV contract with Fox and ESPN”. However, it may be a bit too late though with the departure of the two biggest Los Angeles market teams leaving in UCLA and USC.
Adversely, the Big XII is looking to expand its schools, and the Pac-12 schools rumored to be in current discussions with the BIG XII over the weekend included Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah.
In 2025, the BIG XII will lose two of its major schools, Texas and Oklahoma, who have agreed to join the SEC conference. If Colorado ends up going to the Big XII, they will be going back to their former conference.
Jim Hill, on CBS Sports 6:00 P.M. news just reported that Oregon and Washington are also in discussions with the BIG XII, although Hill also mentioned that Phil Knight (Nike owner, and huge booster for the Oregon Ducks), wants to follow USC and UCLA to the Big 10 or move to the SEC.
While all that’s going on, the Pac-12 sent out a communication to the media that it is looking to add a few schools to its list. UNLV and SDSU are just some of the schools mentioned by the media. While it is rumored that six schools are possibly in discussions with other conferences, two of the six schools came out today to explain that they are committed to the Pac-12, ASU and Utah:
ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson: “ASU remains fully committed to the Pac-12 Conference. ASU continues to work closely with the other remaining conference members to advance the best interests of its student-athletes as well as to support the continued success of the conference itself.”
Shall we remind you that ASU was one of the schools that backed Larry Scott until the very end of his tenure?
Utah beat writer Josh Newman reports that Utah is committed to the Pac-12 quoting a high-level source, “[The rumors Utah is in talks with the Big XII are] blatantly false. Furthermore, Utah remains in strong alignment with Pac-12 leadership, league institutions.”
If Utah was to go to the Big XII, it would be in the same conference as BYU, which makes sense.
Oregon beat writer John Canzano reported that there is more to the Pac-12 wheelings and dealings which are ongoing:
“A source with knowledge of their conversations told me the Pac-12 leaders [The Pac-12 CEO Group] are now considering a “loose partnership” with another conference. Presumably, that conference is the ACC or maybe the Big 12.” The ACC has more lucrative markets than the Big XII but would be a ton of competition for the Arizona Football team.
So instead of four to six schools leaving the Pac-12, the Pac-12 would join another conference. The Big XII (Baylor, Kansas, and TCU) and the ACC (Duke and North Carolina) have some great basketball schools.
ESPN writer Pete Thamel surmises that UCLA and USC don’t necessarily want Oregon and Washington to join them in the Big 10, if they did, they would have asked them. He also writes, “The Big 12’s advantage over the ACC in potentially poaching schools is that they are headed to open market after the 2024 football season. A full-on merger/alliance-type move with the Pac-12 would be complicated for many reasons [with the Big XII], including existing television deals. ”
Note, Thamel does not mention Arizona as a school the ACC would want.
Then there’s this take from the Reddit college football Twitter account: