The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced Wednesday that they have reached a scheduling agreement in multiple sports, including basketball and football
The agreement will entail significant reconfiguration of future schedules in Olympic sports, basketball and football to include matchups between the 24 teams from the two conferences.
Pac-12 commisioner Larry Scott and Big Ten commisioner Jim Delany addressed reporters in a conference call and said the deal is beneficial for both conferences.
“To me, this is a creative and inventive approach through collaboration to achieve some of the same objectives that expansion can help you with,” Scott said. “It gives our conference more of a national platform, more play on the Big Ten Network and higher quality programming on our network without having to expand.”
The deal would likely begin during the 2012-13 seasons in all of the sports with the exception of football, which will honor non-conference scheduling agreements previously in place.
By 2017, the football schedule is expected to include a 12-game schedule that will feature each member of the Big Ten playing a team from the Pac-12.
The Big Ten had previously planned to play a nine-game conference schedule in football starting in 2017, but because of the deal, the conference will continue with an eight-game conference schedule.
The way the matchups will be determined has not been completely worked out, but Delaney said that “competitive equity” would “play a significant part.”
This likely means that top-level teams would be paired against each other on a year-to-year basis.
Both commissioners acknowledged that possible-marquee matchups could hinder their conferences chances of being represented in the national championship, but said the benefits outweigh the negatives.
“I think it helps our football programs,” Delaney said. “I think it will engage fans, help our recruiting, help in the presentation of television. If fans follow it, our partners will be rewarded and we will ultimately be rewarded.
Although nothing has been decided, the football matchups will most likely take place early in the season before conference play begins.
The two conferences are already linked through the Rose Bowl, which annually pits the champion from the Big Ten and Pac-12 on a New Year’s Day bowl, but this agreement furthers the relationship between the conferences across multiple sports. Despite the strengthened relationship, the commissioners said not to expect any form of official merger in the future or any similar agreements with other conferences.
“We have a common DNA but a tremendous recognition that 90 percent, 80 percent of what we do is in our region,” he said. “Those who think regional rivalries and local rivalries don’t mean anything any more, I think that’s erroneous…Our goal is to build something new here on a very strong foundation of history.”