Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 Announces Alliance

Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 announce alliance
The Big Ten, ACC, and PAC-12 announces alliance. Getty Images.

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 officially announces an alliance on Tuesday, in which the three conferences will come together on multiple fronts:

  • College Football Playoff expansion
  • NCAA governance issues
  • Annual Football scheduling
  • Annual Men’s and Women’s basketball scheduling

Why an Alliance?

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics. And we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a press release. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.

Outside of those statements from the ACC commissioner it appears the conferences are forming this alliance to create protections. First from the ever growing strong SEC. Then to ensure they have a stronger presence at the playoff table for the foreseeable future.

This is also timely as many TV contracts are coming up within the next 3-5 years. This gives urgency to the conferences to create great scheduling matchups, and push up their ratings, so they can ensure a bigger piece of the pie in the years to come.

The Scheduling Component

The three conferences will begin playing nonconference games against each other once logistics and tv schedules can be worked out. This new scheduling alliance will help to enhance certain teams’ schedule strengths and create interesting matchups for fans, tv networks, and the playoff committee. 

The conferences have focused on elevating their national profile across the country. The plan to accomplish this is to hold games across the nation in different time zones in new venues.

The scheduling alliance will also include other sports such as basketball, which will have early and mid-season games as well as annual events with intriguing matchups created.

Why an alliance is necessary?

The alliance became a priority for the three Power Five conferences after Texas and Oklahoma moved to the SEC from the Big 12. Talks between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 were described to CBS Sports as a “non-aggression pact” against the SEC. That power grab tipped the scales toward the SEC in future college athletics dealings.  Another big component of this alliance is to stay ahead and wary of the SEC and ESPN dominating the entire college football landscape. 

In the history of college athletics, one expansion of a conference has usually led to another to another and to another. To the three of us, we felt destabilization of the current environment across Division I and the FBS and the Power Five in particular, this was a chance for a new direction, a new initiative that I don’t think has ever been done before,” Phillips said. “… Expansion doesn’t mean you end up changing membership across multiple conferences in a significant shortened period of time.

I have great respect for the SEC. I have great respect for Greg Sankey and his leadership,” added Warren. “… I think the SEC had an opportunity, in accepting Texas and Oklahoma to their conference, I think what that did is allowed all of us in college athletics to maybe take a step back and take a step forward to start evaluating what the [future] looks like in college athletics. … I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, but to be totally candid, you have to evaluate what’s going on in the landscape of college athletics. With all the things that we are facing … this is a year for seismic shifts. I think it’s really important to make sure … that we do all we can to protect our conferences and build strong relationships to protect our student-athletes.

Will this impact the expected playoff expansion?

Though a 12-team model has been proposed for CFP expansion, there has been pushback about slowing the timeline of increasing the field size with the moves of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. With Greg Sankey playing such a critical role with the CFP expansion committee that came up with the 12-team proposal, the other conferences want to take a better look at this and other proposals.

The expansion committee did excellent work of providing an analysis and an option for us to consider. As we all got together in Dallas in June, the idea was that we were going to spend the rest of the summer until the third week of September — when we reconvene — socializing the playoff. What did we like about it? What did we have issues with? Did it makes sense? Too many games? What did it do to the bowl structure and bowl system itself? Certainly from an ACC standpoint, we haven’t made a final decision about where we will fall. We want to take the whole entire period to really vet it thoroughly,” said Phillips.

“I’m a big believer in expanding the College Football Playoff, but I’m also a big believer in being methodical and doing our homework,” Warren said. “… We need to be very methodical as we make decisions because this will impact our student athletes. … The committee … did an incredible job. They spent hours upon hours looking at these different issues. We’re still unpacking this information, but I do think, whenever a decision is made, we need to make sure we have an inclusive voice, keep the student-athletes at the center of our decision, and I’m confident … that we’ll make the right decision and do the right thing at the right time.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 also intend to keep pushing for inclusion of the Rose Bowl — in its traditional form — as part of any playoff expansion talks.

This story is developing.

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