Conference reorganization: Big Ten’s interest in additional Pac-12 teams cooled, Big 12 positioned well

There is a big reason why we have come to another crossroads to reorganize the conference. It is about a 51-year-old media executive who has been holding the strings behind the scenes for a while.

No matter how this reorganization round ends, Mark Shapiro will have a big stake. The president of Endeavor – a powerful global sports, entertainment and content company – is currently advising the Big 12 on the next media rights deal after the current agreement expires before the 2025 season.

You already know Big 12 is in the middle of rearranging itself for the second summer in a row as it heads west to possibly grab some Pac-12 members. Meanwhile, college athletes are anticipating the Big Ten’s new media rights contract, which is expected to be announced any day. It could be the biggest in history.

These two things are not separate. In 2004, Shapiro, then the CEO of ESPN, offered former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany a renewed deal with the world leader. Delaney declined amid what he considered a low offer.

“You’re rolling the dice,” the infamous Shapiro told Delany.

“Think of them wrapped,” Delaney replied.

Delaney made more income from his convention rights by taking some home and starting his own channel. The Big Ten was a huge success, so much so that subsequent conference expansions to Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers contributed to that success. These moves provided more content for the network as well as linear cable partners Fox and ESPN.

Then Delaney made another great move that got us to this moment. In 2017, he signed a short, six-year $2.64 billion deal with Fox and ESPN that put the Big Ten in the right place they now find themselves: on the verge of signing a more than $1 billion annual media rights deal.

The circuit is almost complete. Shapiro is among those waiting for a Big Ten announcement that will almost certainly reshape the conference alignment and possibly college athletics. The size of the deal could force more movement, force Notre Dame into the Big Ten and/or consolidate its power within the Big Ten (and the SEC).

Perhaps none of that would have been possible without the acceleration of Delaney’s vision with Shapiro’s low-ball offer. So far, Shapiro has garnered high marks for his work with the Big 12. Indeed, the conference’s athletic directors are giddy at what Endeavor has already accomplished by putting the Big 12 ahead of the Pac 12 – albeit slightly – in terms of strength gain.

CBS Sports reported last week that without Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 North is worth $30 million a year per school.

“The numbers seem to favor us,” said one of the 12th largest AD. “Not by a large amount. It’s not like comparing Texas to Texas. But there seems to be a noticeable difference.”

Conference reorganization book

Further expansion could create legal problems

The only conference commissioner to run a 16-team league in the modern era has a warning for the SEC and the Big Ten: Beware of the legal ramifications of expanding beyond 16 teams.

Former WAC commissioner Carl Benson presided over 16 members from 1996-1998 before the league collapsed on itself because – surprisingly – the money didn’t stretch far enough. When BYU was disqualified from the Bowl Alliance (a precursor to BCS) despite the first division IA team (now FBS) winning 14 games, Senate hearings were held. The word “collusion” has been thrown around because it pertains to college football authorities banning other programs. This word can appear again.

“Maybe it was the reason why Washington and Oregon did not agree with the USC and UCLA.” [to the Big Ten] At the same time he is afraid of collusion, Benson, who is currently retired, told CBS Sports. “This is a legitimate concern for the damage one conference does to another.”

The stakes are higher this time. The SEC and the Big Ten have a chance to monopolize the sport. This may have already happened. Officials in both leagues are lightly conscious of antitrust issues. Well sometimes. Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey said he could play a playoff with his league.

“[No one has] He ever went and canceled a conference. [if I was Pac-12 commissioner] George Klyavkov, I may pursue antitrust measures there.”

Big Ten’s interest in Pac-12 teams has subsided

After the concern he caused last week about Further expansion of the Big TenIndustry sources indicated that the Big Ten is no longer interested in adding California, Oregon, Stanford and Washington. The rights holders were reluctant to pay the same amount to these schools as the 16 Big Ten schools going forward ($80M – $100M).

While these four shows may eventually have options, the Big Ten is focusing on its new deal in 2023 while trying to lure Notre Dame, who has an open invitation. More and more stakeholders now believe that Irish fighters will ultimately remain independent.

I lost the chance

Let’s not forget that the Pac-12 had a chance to boost its ranks last year when the Big 12 got injured from the Texas and Oklahoma exits to the SEC. Sources told CBS Sports this week that the Pac-12 vote was 8-4 against admission to any big 12 school. It would definitely be interesting to know which Pac-12 schools voted for expansion a year ago. We already know USC President Carol Wohlt “close” Attention to expansion.

“We all jumped,” Big 12 AD told CBS Sports, referring to the Pac-12’s interest in entering Texas.

The future of Pac-12 may depend on a time zone

West Coast games late at night are referred to as occurring as the “fourth window” – after 10 p.m. ET. As much ribbing for those games (#Pac12AfterDark) the Pac-12 has received, there’s no way around it. They’re valuable programs that fill your late-night TV slots with guaranteed ratings.

This is why the delayed window is key for the Pac-12. This may be why ESPN may remain involved in the conference beyond the end of the 30-day exclusive negotiation period on Thursday. Without Pac-12, ESPN might not have late-night football. Fox is already set there with a Mountain West contract.

One industry course speculated: If ESPN doesn’t get a piece of the Big Ten, will it include all of the rest of the Pac-12? More importantly, if ESPN gets a portion of the Big Ten, will Pac-12 continue marketing without the interest of any of the biggest college football rights holders (ESPN, Fox)?

“This is a huge advantage for us to basically get what we want through expansion [the Pac-12],” a Big 12 source for CBS Sports. (Cue the Eagles.)

Big 12 is still in a good position

Fox and the Senior 12 fell out five years ago when the conference was again adding a championship game. Numbers were not available, but sources said Fox did not want to pay the value he considered Big 12’s media advisor to the game. Last summer, former Big 12 commissioner Bob Paulsby released a As a severe removal of ESPN As neither of us suffered. But when it comes to the core matters of business – media rights – the old can always be outdated.

Big 12 continues to work with both Fox and ESPN on their new right deal, which will begin in 2025.

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