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The Pac-12 as we used to know it is over.
I can safely say that after word came down last week that Oregon and Washington are joining the Big Ten and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are headed for the Big 12.
With USC and UCLA already confirmed to be Big Ten members this time next year, Cal, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State are left in the once-proud Pac-12. Those four must feel like they were playing musical chairs, and when the music stopped someone took all of the remaining chairs and there is nowhere for any of them to sit.
Since we are in the heart of Big Ten Country, well … I can’t even say that anymore, can I? If you live in the continental United States, you’re pretty much in Big Ten Country now, right?
Think about it. Big Ten schools will be based in Los Angeles, Seattle and New Jersey. It’s 2,700 miles from the UCLA campus to the main campus of Rutgers.
Google it and fact-check it if you want — it’s the truth.
Why? Why is this all happening again? How in the world is this kosher?
Well, it’s money, of course.
The Big Ten TV deal is a good one, and the Pac-12’s is not.
And like Oprah at Christmastime, the Big Ten is screaming “YOU get a membership and YOU get a membership and YOU get a membership!”
Once the four Pac-12 teams join the fold, there will be 18 teams in the Big Ten.
You ask, “Won’t colleges get less money since they have to split it with 17 other schools?”
Great question. Let me answer by saying “No.”
With Los Angeles (#2 to New York in TV market size) now a Big Ten city, advertisers will be standing in long lines to tap into all those new, West Coast viewers. The value of the deal goes up, and so does the amount of pie everyone will get to split.
The logistics of this are head-splitting.
I am guessing that they will take the 18 teams and split them into four divisions. You’d have a Western Division with the four Pac-12 schools, and East Division with Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers and Ohio State. The North would be made up of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern. The South would include Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State.
For football, you’d play everyone in your division every year, and then rotate and play another division to fill your conference dates. Then you could have one standard game each year like Michigan-Ohio State that would always be on their schedules.
For basketball, you play everyone in your division twice, play another division twice (and that rotates) and then play everyone else one time.
It’s just absurd that we are even having this discussion. I have said it before, and I say it again: The whole purpose of a “conference” is that schools in a similar geographical area with similar academic standards join together to form a consistent and long-running series of sporting events with all of their teams in all of their sports playing each other.
That’s not happening here!
The Pac-12 schools are fine institutions of higher learning, and I am not trying to denigrate them in any way, but are we seriously thinking these schools share those same interests with the schools from the Midwest?
Do we believe that this is all about doctors at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA having access to more collaboration opportunities with the bright minds at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine?
Of course not.
And do not, for one second, consider the hogwash that we have been hearing from the leadership at the schools who left their conferences, those who are left behind and those who are welcoming about their goal being “to provide the best opportunities for their student-athletes.”
That hasn’t been the case for decades and it certainly isn’t their main motivation.
If it was, they wouldn’t do what they are doing. They wouldn’t make their athletes fly 12 hours round trip for sporting events. They wouldn’t drag them away from their campuses multiple times during their season an extra day before their contest on the other coast to adjust to the time zone difference.
Nope, it’s about the money. And sending your teams on trips that have all the look and feel of a business trip makes those people traveling look like employees. Employees, by definition, work for their business.
Employees get paid a regular salary by that business.
And that means universities will have to start shelling out a lot of the extra money they are going to make from their new alliances.
I’m guessing they are not going to be too excited about that.