BEVO BEAT Football

Could trouble in the Pac-12 reignite Big 12 expansion dreams?

Posted May 17th, 2018


CBS Sports reporter Dennis Dodd’s exposé on the trials and tribulations of the Pac-12 has some Big 12 reporters thinking of growth.

Dodd points out that a flawed television deal with the Fox family of networks and struggling football and basketball teams have some believing the league has fallen behind the rest of the Power 5 conferences, including the Big 12 — which many believe will face a life-or-death situation once the current television contract expires.

“The gap between us and the other (leagues) continues to grow,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson told Dodd. “We’ll be competitively disadvantaged even more so. … That’s real money in terms of being able to compete, support facilities, support coaches and support programs.”


MORE: Big 12 expansion reactions range from disappointed to ‘pissed off’

It’s a stunning turn for a conference that eight years ago was invading the Big 12, capturing Colorado and trying to take Oklahoma and Texas — the two most powerful schools in the Big 12 — with them. It seems the much maligned Big 12 reboot that kept Texas and Oklahoma home and played a part in Texas A&M and Missouri heading to the SEC has been beneficial for Texas and Oklahoma. Pac-12 schools earned an average of $30.9 million in television revenue per year, according to Dodd, about $20 million less than Texas and OU earned individually.

MORE: Big 12 expansion: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Conference ‘shanked its future’

It didn’t take too long for some to ponder if the Big 12 is prepared to pursue Pac-12 programs.

The Big 12 television deal was last negotiated in 2012 and it was a 13-year deal with ESPN and Fox for first- and second-tier rights for a combined $2 billion. Texas receives $15 million annually from ESPN for the Longhorn Network.

When the Big 12 decided not to expand almost two years ago, the fate of the Big 12 was up in the air. Texas and Oklahoma won’t commit to anything beyond 2024-2025 season, wrote Brian Davis in October of 2016.

While adding any of the schools profiled in the summer of 2016 as potential new members didn’t move the needle enough for the conference to act, Pac-12 programs are a little more enticing than say, Memphis, Cincinnati and Connecticut. ESPN and Fox reportedly pushed back to Big 12 expansion in 2016 when those schools along with BYU and Houston were being considered. But the conference potentially adding schools in the Southern and Northern California markets — or even the Phoenix television market, could change that.


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