Conference reorganization: Phil Knight turns cold calling to Oregon as Pac-12, Big 12, ACC searches for lifelines

The real effect of this latest round of conference reorganization is the image of one of the world’s most powerful sports figures ‘working on phones’. This is how one source described Phil Knight’s level of desperation this week.

A marketing genius, philanthropist, philanthropist, and billionaire, Shoe Dog himself appears to be using all of his resources to find a home in Oregon, a program that has made Knight one of the college sports brands best known as an actual subsidiary of Nike. empire.

Knight has been turned into a cool phone marketer. This is a sad situation.

The USC and UCLA immigration to the Big Ten in 2024 made it so. Last week, we were reminded once again of the ruthlessness of this system.

Pac-12 may or may not survive, but after losing its two flagships, it is changed forever. All with a reminder that the ACC is striving to retain its top teams, while the Big 12 may be in its fourth round of reorganization since 2010.

What we’re seeing in real time is uniting the best brands at the helm of the sport. Everything else is cursed. When a Knight is reduced to speed dial to rescue his duck, well, that takes potential disqualification to another level.

You may have noticed: The SEC and the Big Ten are far from Notre Dame (or so) from organizing their own playoff. Perhaps they don’t even need the Irish fighters, who are once again deciding whether to join a conference after 130 years of independence.

What you can see is the accessibility and convenience fading away for all but the elites – and those who are lucky enough to participate in their conferences. Some ACC schools are scary. They are looking to lag the SEC $50 million annually in annual rights fees.

An industry source said it could take $500 million for a school to get out of the ACC given the league’s strictest rights grant that keeps schools in conference through 2036. You can buy a lot of quality coaches, a million dollars for coordinators, great facilities and helicopters for that kind of money.

Turn some stress into boosters. Will they make the difference? Can the current spending rate be maintained?

A source on one of the highly resourced soccer programs says donors have been laid off.

One day soon, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Big Ten Foundation could decide to flex by funding 95 scholarships instead of the current 85. There may be some outside of the first two conferences who can keep up, but at what cost?

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Add to it all that the leadership and thinking from the five newest Commissioners of the Authority – all appointed since 2020 – is more diverse than ever.

Last week, CBS Sports presented a A three-part series on the future of college football. One conclusions? The 130 FBS schools will break from the NCAA, probably sooner rather than later.

Now, that number seems smaller and more dangerous. Maybe 50-80 will make the cut. You can see why Knight is sweating.

This was always inevitable to happen. People were upset when the SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991. Same for the Big Ten that added Pennsylvania in 1990. The Southwest Conference collapsed on itself due to several NCAA violations. The Big 12 appeared in 1996, and then almost collapsed. Only six original members remained (Baylor, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech). Big East Football ended in 2013 with a conference reform.

Now, the SEC and the Big Ten have most of the power and potency since there isn’t any brand gathering at the top of the game like it gathered at those conferences.

What remains is a crazy rush by other major conferences to grab the biggest remaining brands. No other conference can bring to the table what the SEC and the Big Ten will do by 2024-25. The battle now is to see if one or more of the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 can bring together enough high profile programs to prevent the SEC and the Big Ten from organizing a credible playoff on their own.

This brings us back to Nate’s cold calling. It takes place in a world that may leave Oregon and Washington without a chance to compete for national championships. A scientist now thinks nothing of flying volleyball players across four time zones to play a match. A scientist stripped two Power Five conferences of their soul in one summer in a row.

Oregon and Washington are the top two soccer programs “in play” given that Pac-12 is down to 10 teams; However, there is a reason they are not featured prominently in the reorganization. Industry sources say that neither of them brings the desired value to the Big Ten ($80 million to $100 million per year). The Pac-12 schools most prominently mentioned in the Big 12 are the so-called “Four Corners” schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah.

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Television rights consultants told The Big 12 that the most important considerations for expansion are brand and geography. Geography pushed Oregon and Washington to the sidelines. (This does not mean that the likes of Arizona and Arizona are necessarily “brands”).

If the Big 12 expands, it will not necessarily be for money but rather for survival and importance. One prominent industry source called the difference between the Big 12 or the Extended Pac-12 a “coin flick.” Think about the reason for expanding this way: Could a credible playoff be staged without allowing Oregon and Washington to compete for a place?

ESPN kind of answered that question when it didn’t think anything of it last summer by dumping the Big 12 on the scrap heap as Texas and Oklahoma moved to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The network was telling us without telling us that the world wouldn’t end if the likes of Oklahoma State, Iowa State and TCU, among others, didn’t get a chance to finish in the top four in the college football playoffs. The question was answered again when the Pac-12 was sidelined last week.

Reviews are important. They are even more important when the SEC’s 9-3 Oklahoma has a better chance of entering a 12-1 playoff than Oklahoma State than the Big 12.

One industry source called Oregon and Washington “tweeners” in the reorganization. It’s definitely not USC and UCLA in terms of branding and marketability, but it’s not Arizona and Arizona either. Here’s what the reorganization revealed: the real things that make college football relevant to the only people that matter – television directors, programmers, advertisers – are revealed in increasing and defining detail.

Without Oregon and Washington, the Pac-12 might collapse. With them, it may not matter.

Conference reorganization notes

The next focal point is the Big Ten announcement of their new $1 billion TV deal. That could come at a party, perhaps initially on the media in the league later this month. The Big Ten may be expanded. It doesn’t matter, really, because Notre Dame has the time and influence on its side. If you decide the money is too big to turn down and/or getting to a playoff becomes too difficult to maintain success, you may join the Big Ten.

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Any result of this round of reorganization that leaves all 12 new Bigs is a league win. He’s happy with the current 12 teams going forward in 2025. The worst case of a Pac-12 drop is some sort of hybrid merger with Mountain West. That’s what would be left for two football powers in Oregon and Washington who together won a national championship, played two titles since 2010 and participated in five Rose Bulls groups since 2001. These two schools are also the only Pac-12 participants in the CFP.

A merger between Big 12 and Pac-12 is still a possibility, but… A source told CBS Sports that the process to terminate her membership – at least by the top 12 – could be completed in weeks, not months.

Of the four new 12 schools (BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF), three are from the United States. That forms part of the narrative surrounding the Pac-12’s path forward as the league went to market earlier this week for its TV rights. Why would you want to go to a conference whose membership consists of a quarter of a group of five teams? Why risk “intraday” stability for the sake of Pac 12 history and tradition?

Why reality? Pac-12 will be marketed with ESPN and Fox with 10 teams that have pledged no loyalty to each other. The Big 12 were already hovering, ready to snatch organs from the West Coast. But rights holders are already asking: What do we offer? What schools will there be?

Clemson, Florida, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia from ACC They were mentioned as potential dance partners, but at least they are in a conference with a TV deal. This reveals another truth: she’s really on the defensive right now. Conference hacks are here and you’re not going anywhere. Enter shows like Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State, and/or Miami, and suddenly, a two-conference playoff becomes a reality. Everything else could be an obnoxious group of six or seven. At this point, the obvious play is for a new subdivision to shape its playoff stages. money – no leaked Money – there will be.

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