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Conflicting reports emerge about Cal, Stanford and the Big 12
If the ACC invites don't come, the California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal need a second option. Could the Big 12 extend an invite to Cal, Stanford, Washington State and Oregon State?
The Big 12 has really not come up in our discussions about future homes for the California Golden Bears. Now they’re coming up as a possibility as terms get ironed out for an ACC invite.
As Cal and Stanford attempt to finalize a deal with the ACC, the Big 12 has surfaced as another potential landing spot. In that scenario the remaining Pac 12 schools (including Oregon State and Washington State) could also join the Big 12.
Despite various reports to the contrary, Big 12 has not had conversations w/any of the Pac-4 schools & has no intention in engaging w/those schools, multiple Big 12 sources told @ActionNetworkHQ
As we’ve discussed before, Cal and Stanford do not seem particularly keen on a conference with a vastly different cultural and political profile to what the Pac-12 conference members valued. Baylor and BYU come particularly to mind. The academic profile is also the lowest of all the remaining conference, so you have to imagine Cal and Stanford administrators are not too keen.
There is definite donor concerns as a result. Ending up in the Big 12 could see donor attrition at a time when Cal athletics needs every dollar they can find.
But there are positives to the Big 12. For one, travel. Playing five to six football games on the East Coast will force Cal and Stanford to log the most frequent flyer miles of any Power 5 school, trekking back to the ACC every week. That is a logistical nightmare to work out.
However, if Oregon State and Washington State are also invited (which hasn’t been previously reported), suddenly Cal and Stanford would be joining a Big 12 that would have eight Pac-12 teams in it. That would mean seven former potential conference matchups if there are divisions, so only maybe a handful of new Big 12 games. The changes would be far minimal from a football perspective, alleviating travel concerns that are certainly coming up regarding the ACC.
There also might be some behind the scenes dealings regarding ESPN, who along with FOX have been guiding realignment. Bob Thompson, former Fox Sports TV executive, explains the logic.
ACC is $72m. Big 12 would be 66.6% of $31.7m x 4 schools or $84.5m. If you assume the $10m x 2 if OSU/WSU go to AAC then ESPN actually spends $7.5m less per year in total if the four go to Big 12. In other words, just an additional $12.5m to secure both OSU and WSU. Good buy.
Additionally, even a reduced Big 12 share would likely generate more bottom-line revenue for Cal
ESPN definitely does not want to get shut out of the late night market as they’d like to keep their Pac-12 After Dark program going. ESPN also is the primary rights holder of the ACC and might not want to upset Florida State and Clemson anymore so that they consider exiting earlier.
Getting Oregon State and Washington State bundled with Cal/Stanford at a discount along with the new Big 12 members Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State will provide them with that inventory, while avoiding have to shell out an additional $72 million to the ACC to add Cal, Stanford and SMU.
It’s also possible that this is a leverage play being put out by Cal and Stanford to pressure the ACC into a final vote earlier, and potentially milk more favorable terms than the very reduced revenue share being rumored for Cal the last few days.
Still, it all hinges on an ACC vote being conducted this week and at least one of the no votes switching to yes. The longer this drags out, the more likely Cal and Stanford are going to have to consider alternative options like the Big 12.
Would you rather see Cal in the ACC or Big 12?