Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff was pretty Frank when talking about the current conference realignment landscape, particularly about his conference and the Big 12.
“I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades that have been lobbed from every corner of the Big 12 trying to destabilize our remaining conference,” Kliavkoff said. “I understand why they’re doing it, when you look at the media value between the two conferences. I get it, I get why they’re scared.”
The two conferences have been trying to survive while their top earning members have bolted to the SEC (Big 12’s Texas and Oklahoma) and the BIG 10 (Pac-12’s USC and UCLA) over the past two years. The Big 12 has since managed to stabilize itself by adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF while the Pac-12 has yet to make any addition.
Both conferences though will have their media rights deal expire in the next few years, making this a pivotal moment for both. This has led to essentially a war between the Big 12 and Pac-12 over who is the more valuable conference. According to Kliavkoff, that war has led to tampering on behalf of the Big 12 to snatch away one of the remaining Pac-12 teams.
“The tampering continues,” Kliavkoff said. “The good news is my presidents and chancellors and athletic directors forward me all those messages. I have a big collection of those messages.”
It’s unknown what schools Kliavkoff claims were being pursued by the Big 12, but a report by CBS Sports three weeks ago suggested that the conference was about to add Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of also adding Oregon and Washington, the largest two brands remaining from the two conferences.
It’s truly unknown which conference actually has the edge in realignment and the comments by both conference commissioners reflect that. Incoming Big 12 commission Brett Yormak said weeks ago that his conference was “open for business.”
“One thing is for sure: there is no doubt the Big 12 is open for business,” Yormark said at Big 12 media days. “We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference.”
Kliavkoff responded to that statement at the Pac-12’s media days saying, “As for the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that. We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there yet.”