The B1G and Pac 12 had announced in December that they were entering into a scheduling agreement. The agreement covered all sports, and would also expand the football partnership in the Rose Bowl into the regular season.
The official statement on the matter can be found here.
Statement from Big Ten Conference Commissioner James E. Delany:
“We are disappointed to announce today that the Big Ten Pac-12 strategic collaboration announced jointly in December 2011 unfortunately will not be consummated. We recently learned from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott that the complications associated with coordinating a non-conference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult. Those complications, among other things, included the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule and previous non-conference commitments.
“A great effort was made by both conference staffs to create football schedules that would address the variety of complexities, but in the end, we were just not able to do so.
“While everyone at the Big Ten is disappointed by the news, we look forward to continuing the historic partnership that we have with the Pac-12 and to working together on other matters in the future.”
Statement from Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott:
“After extensive deliberation and consultation with member institutions, television partners and others, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have decided not to pursue the previously announced plans for enhanced scheduling collaboration across all sports at this time. While we continue to value our close relationship, particularly our partnership in the Rose Bowl, the Pac-12 came to the conclusion that it’s in our best interests to maintain our nine-game conference schedule and maximum flexibility in out-of-conference scheduling. Thus, the Pac-12 decided not to lock into the proposed mandatory 12-game schedule in football.”
The statements from both parties imply that the Pac 12 was the one who made the call to pull the plug. But, why?
While the agreement was to span all sports, it was pretty clear the focus of this agreement was football. There is a perception on the West Coast that there is a pretty large East Coast bias when it comes to rankings and major National awards. What better way to eliminate that bias than playing teams from the B1G? They would garner more national attention and possibly even make a few inroads in recruiting the fertile lands of places like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Does this signal possible expansion by one or both Conferences? Yes, I know, we are tired of the constant talks of realignment and the like, but either conference expanding to 14 teams is not out of the realm of possibility. A move like this could make expanding the conference, and expanding the conference schedule, much easier. The headaches associated with expansion in an agreement like this might make it seem very much not worth it.
It is disappointing that this did not work out, but hopefully this will open up a chance that the B1G will pursue some agreements with other conferences, at least in football. Strength of schedule will likely matter with a playoff and all conferences should seize opportunities to play some solid competition and not a cupcake schedule of FCS teams.