The Pac-12 appears to be the biggest loser so far in terms of the drastic conference realignment that has been going on in college sports, already losing Colorado to the Big-12 along with USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
It now appears that things could get even worse for the Pac-12, with preliminary talks emerging of more teams potentially departing for better opportunities.
According to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, the Big Ten has begun exploratory discussions about expanding membership to 18 or even 20 teams. Among the schools being considered in a potential expansion for the conference are Oregon, Washington, California, and Stanford. Wetzel did add that these discussions are still in the very early stages and there is nothing imminent at this point.
This is certainly notable because the Pac-12 is still trying to iron out the details of a proposed all-streaming media rights deal with Apple. Their current media rights deal is set to expire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
You would have to imagine that losing any of these teams to the Big Ten would be a huge blow to the conference in terms of their ongoing negotiations with Apple.
At this point, there is still clearly a chance that the Pac-12 could retain these teams, but if they don’t it sounds like the conference plans to focus on expansion as well to offset any more losses.
“We are focused on concluding our media rights deal and securing our continued success and growth,” said the Pac-12 in a statement after Colorado’s departure in June. “Immediately following the conclusion of our media rights deal, we will embrace expansion opportunities and bring news fans, markets, excitement and value to the Pac-12.”