I didn’t even flinch when word came out Tuesday via The Athletic that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was meeting with new Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff.
West Virginia University has been in the same conference as Miami, Fla. It’s been in the same conference as Texas.
Why not USC?
Of course, I’m getting way ahead of what will happen next in college athletics. The meeting between the two commissioners is expected to be a “key first step in talks about whether the two conferences would benefit from strategically working together during college sports’ new phase of realignment,” according to writer Max Olson.
“Discussions on a pact between the two could go in several different directions,” Olson wrote. “One option would be a scheduling alliance between Big 12 and Pac-12 members. Bowlsby acknowledged this possibility on Monday during his appearance at a Texas Senate committee meeting on the future of college sports in Texas. Pursuing a merger with another conference is another possibility.”
Could the Big 12 schools – minus SEC-bound UT and Oklahoma – really merge with the Pac-12 or ACC?
The former seems more likely than the latter. And I’m sure that’s why Bowlsby is meeting with Kliavkoff.
Like the Big 12, the Pac-12 has been criticized for years and could use some help.
And here’s a key reason Kliavkoff was hired: The next media rights deal.
Former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott added Utah and Colorado after being hired in 2009 to secure what was then a lucrative 12-year, $3 billion media pact with ESPN and Fox. Since then, though, the deal has paid member schools far short of what those in the SEC and Big Ten make.
The Pac-12’s deal runs out in the 2023-24 school year and all eyes on the Left Coast will be on Kliavkoff.
The Pac-12 commissioner is a TV guy. He ran Hulu. It’s Job No. 1 for him.
So bolstering California schools with those, mostly, in Texas and the Midwest sounds appealing, right?
Of course, it’s not what WVU fans want to hear, but it’s better than being left out of the tectonic shift.
Then again, maybe with such talk the ACC – WVU’s natural home — might invite the Mountaineers and others after all.
It will be interesting to watch how everything unfolds. One possibility Bowlsby floated while appearing for the committee in Austin on Monday would be the Big 12 working with another conference to aggregate their negotiating rights for the next TV deal.
It’s my hope that whatever happens West Virginia University and its fans remain a major player in college athletics.
They deserve it.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.