Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.
Much has been made of the Big Ten’s interest in expanding beyond their current 11 teams and all the consequences that such expansion could have on other conferences throughout the country. But, given that the other BCS conferences are multi-million dollar organizations and that the continued competitiveness and even existence of these organizations may depend on their actions both before and after the Big Ten comes to its decision, it should come as no surprise that conference commissioners and athletic directors of their respective member institutions are considering their options in a game of moves and countermoves. It is probably no coincidence that the first speculative report to surface indicating that the Big Ten has made its choices and offered up its first invitations came on the heels of reports at the end of last week that the Big 12 and Pac-10 had met to discuss a possible alliance, a big innovation that makes a lot of sense for both conferences.
Representatives from the two conferences met in Phoenix last Wednesday in what Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe described as “an informal meeting” to discuss a possible alliance. The two main planks of this possible alliance are rumored to be scheduling preferences in the future and, most importantly, joint television negotiations and ventures. As rumors have swirled of the Big Ten and possibly SEC poaching some Big 12 teams, and with the Pac-10 exploring its own expansion options, a “strategic alliance,” between the two conferences, as Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott put it, could be a boon to both.
Aside from the potential benefits that an alliance between the conferences could bring, there is a lot of common ground between the two, as they are the only two BCS conferences made up entirely of member schools located west of the Mississippi and Pac-10 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg was Beebe’s predecessor at the Big 12. Weiberg was also instrumental in helping launch the Big Ten Network, a bit of experience that may come in handy as these two conferences discuss possibly launching a network of their own, a joint venture between the two that would allow them to show more (or potentially all) of their football and basketball games that don’t get picked up by national or regional networks.