Report: Pac-12 partnership with ACC unlikely as is currently being discussed
Since news broke last week that USC and UCLA plan to exit the Pac-12 in 2024, a number of different “Save the Pac-12” plans have been floated. Could the Pac-12 add teams? Commissioner George Kliavkoff has been given the green light to explore all expansion possibilities. Could the league merge with the Big 12? The Big 12 reportedly wants to swipe the Arizona schools, Utah, and Colorado from the Conference of Champions, so any discussions of a partnership get interesting in a hurry.
What about a “loose partnership” with the ACC to form a bi-coastal alliance—an actual one this time, not the farce the Big Ten offered before poaching the Pac-12’s most-coveted assets—that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and give network partner ESPN some much-needed West Coast late-night inventory on college football Saturdays.
Such an arrangement, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, is unlikely.
From Thamel’s latest reporting (ESPN+):
In what’s being discussed, the leagues would keep their form. And they would be bonded together through the power of large quantities of television inventory and the occasional sexy cross-country football matchup between, say, Miami and Oregon. (Sorry, Mario Cristobal.)
How creative can the leagues get? One idea being discussed, per sources, is a four-day in-season basketball tournament between the leagues as a way to drive up value. Perhaps there’s some football scheduling creativity? It sounds fun, but not all that lucrative.
One of the appeals to the Big Ten going into Southern California was turning millions of television homes into “inner market,” which should command a significantly higher fee for the Big Ten Network. But that isn’t expected to be the case for the ACC Network in this arrangement, as the Pac-12 schools aren’t going to be recognized as actual ACC schools. Therefore, no significant financial bump.
Thamel added that numbers are expected to be “floated” to Pac-12 and ACC schools next week, which would either confirm such a partnership doesn’t actually move the needle from an economic standpoint or prompt further discussion.
At the moment, it would appear that conference realignment craziness has slowed. The Big Ten appears willing to wait for Notre Dame to give an answer at whatever time they choose. With the Pac-12 moving to a formal negotiating phase for its next media rights deal, the 10 remaining programs likely want to see what potential revenue distributions look like before making any decisions.