When Rutgers and Maryland were invited to join the Big Ten in 2014, the majority of Scarlet-clad fans, outside of those looking to revive the annual Princeton US 1 rematch, exhaled a huge sigh of relief. Many of us also realized expansion across the college football landscape was far from over.
As conferences race to secure new members far and wide in markets with large viewership and the prized subsequent media revenue, the B1G and SEC have emerged from the junk pile as the true powers. I was tempted to use the word “Kings” but there’s nothing very regal about the process of cannibalizing other conferences to benefit one’s self. Maybe Morgoth and Sauron are more apt names to represent our B1G and SEC overlords? The have-nots in essence, are scavenging for those rings of power smithed by the Dwarves of Khazad-Dum and handed out as prized “rewards” for unwavering loyalty to the B1G and SEC machines.
Okay, I digress with my LOTR obsession of power and doom. This story is about what is likely to come. We know that in July of 2022, as summer football camps were kicking off, USC and UCLA announced they had accepted invites to join the B1G. This latest seismic shift followed the news a year earlier in 2021 of Texas and Oklahoma agreeing to join the SEC. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or hobbit to understand this basically renders the three remaining Power 5 conferences to a lower tier, with the B1G 12, PAC 12 and ACC fighting for survival and a piece of the revenue pie left after the B1G and SEC feast.
This past week, a credible report from college football insider Brett McMurphy stated the B1G has vetted and cleared Oregon and Washington to join the conference. With UCLA and USC joining in 2024, the addition of UW and UO would bring the conference to 18 teams and secure a west coast footprint. Logically, adding Oregon and Washington provides USC and UCLA two regional schools that helps ease travel across time zones and preserves yearly rivalries.
Why are Oregon and Washington good fits?
- Both have large viewership in major media markets - Portland and Seattle
- Both are AAU members: research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education (I was tempted to use the sarcasm font as expansion is all about money).
- Both have sustained athletic success in Football
- With the perception that the Pac 12 is in survival mode and looking at San Diego State and SMU as its next members, Oregon and Washington would almost certainly take a partial revenue distribution from the B1G media rights deal to begin with, likely similar to the agreements signed by Rutgers and Maryland in 2014.
Alternatives to Oregon and Washington?
- Notre Dame and Stanford. If Notre Dame ever agrees to join the B1G in football, Stanford is almost a guaranteed partner due to the long-standing rivalry. It’s likely ND only agrees if Stanford is brought along.
- Stanford and Cal. If Notre Dame has no interest in joining the B1G and wants to maintain independent status, the Cardinal and Golden Bears are the next likely two western schools outside of Washington and Oregon.
- Oh, and to complicate things even more... at the ACC meetings this week, it has been reported that Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and Miami are among seven ACC schools examining the conference’s grant of rights agreement amid concerns over the league’s projected financial standing compared to other Power Five conferences, according to multiple reports (courtesy of CBS Sports). Every time there’s a seismic shift in the CFB landscape, North Carolina and Florida State frequently seem to be bantered about as future members of the B1G among speculative fans and beat writers.
What Happens if the B1G adds 2, 4, or 6 additional teams?
I’m not climbing that much out on a limb when I say that the Big 12 and PAC 12 either merge or the PAC 12 closes up shop and the Big 12 pulls in the remaining members. It certainly makes sense from a geographical point of view.
I can also see a logical situation where the remaining ACC and PAC 12 members merge with the Big 12 and when the dust clears, we are left with three super-conferences: B1G, SEC, and a TBD Big 12/Pac 12/ACC alliance. It almost seems inevitable that we wind up with three super conferences the way the expansion timeline is progressing.
Everything is highly speculative at present and it’s too much to cover in one story, but if and when future B1G additions are announced in the coming weeks, I look forward to discussing the benefits to other sports outside of football and what this means not only for Rutgers athletics, but alumni and fans as well. Personally, I think it will be a joy to play guard-heavy Pac 12 teams that have no interest in a wrestling match each basketball game.