The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are actively engaged in discussions about forming an alliance, The Athletic’s Max Olson reported Friday. Such an alliance, likely to be primarily focused on college football scheduling, would be an effort by the three Power Five conferences to counter the recently expanded SEC that is growing in power and influence across collegiate athletics.
This comes on the heels of the SEC formally accepting Texas and Oklahoma as its newest conference members, a move that will become officially following the 2024-25 season.
An alliance between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 could allow the conferences to create interesting matchups between their biggest brand-name teams in an effort to compete with the SEC’s television inventory and notoriety.
It could also strengthen their individual standings in college sports’ ever-changing landscape and potentially stiff-arm other conferences from poaching their top teams.
“I can’t comment on anything in that report. We have no additional information to share,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd on Friday. “… I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all the [Autonomy Five] commissioners the last few weeks about the four or five complex issues we’re facing as an industry.”
With the Big 12’s top two programs joining the SEC and this potential alliance including three of the remaining four power conferences, the Big 12 could find itself in particularly dire straits.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met with Kliavkoff earlier in August to discuss a scheduling alliance or potential merger. However, Olson reports those discussions were more “introductory and exploratory.”
How an alliance between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 might work remains a mystery, but as a trio, they could work together to combat the SEC’s power, which has only grown since adding Texas and Oklahoma to what will soon be a 16-team superconference.
In response to that move, several high-level administrators have complained about what they deem a competitive imbalance seized by the SEC in terms of access to the College Football Playoff, sources tell Dodd. Top CFP brass are scheduled to meet on Sept. 28 in Dallas to discuss the next step in a proposed expansion of the playoff to 12 teams.
Kliavkoff told CBS Sports that playoff expansion must, at the least, be reconsidered given the SEC’s expansion. He has been “supported by [at least] three other Power Five conference commissioners and some of the most powerful college administrators in the country,” sources told Dodd last month.
While there’s no formal agreement between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 at this time, but The Athletic reports that all three of the conference’s commissioners have been discussing the possibility for “several weeks” with working together a “likely outcome.”
Bubbling beneath the surface of such a move is pressure mounting on all three league leaders — two of whom are in the first year on their jobs — to strengthen their individual conferences in an effort to combat the SEC’s power move this summer. This while the Big 12 is still attempting to figure out where its future lies.