For too long, the Big 12 has been the little brother of the power five conferences. In the past few years the conference has lost four schools – and all significant schools that made great contributions to the conference – to three other conferences. They did nothing to get each of the universities to stay, instead tucking its tail between its legs and letting them walk.
The Big 12 leadership has not been great in many fans eyes, including this one. Every decision they’ve made should be questioned, and while many say hindsight is 20-20, most of the views we all have now were the same we had back then.
The Big 12 can reverse course though, and they can do it right now. It’s time to go raid the Pac-12, just like we were once raided, and get Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.
Right now the Pac-12 is incredibly vulnerable, with a lackluster conference network that many are calling a failure. While the Big Ten Network and SEC Network are broadcast in approximately 70 million households, the Pac-12 Network is only shown in 12 million households, and none outside of the six states that host the universities. And when it comes to revenue, the BTN and SECN pay each school around $10 million a year, while the Pac-12 Network is barely clearing $1 million to each school, and that is before expenses.
The Pac-12 paid each school $25.1 million in 2015, while the Big 12 paid $23.3 million. So why would Arizona State and Arizona think about leaving for less money? Because they can actually come out on top because they will own their Tier 3 rights, giving them an opportunity to make much more than they currently are.
The geographic footprint makes sense as well, with most trips to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas being shorter than their trips to Northern California and Oregon. And their longest trip to West Virginia – which would be made every other year, or every third year if a conference of 12 teams is split into east and west – is only a couple hundred miles farther than their trip to Seattle to play the University of Washington.
Arizona’s sports make total sense as well. Great football programs and facilities, one of the top basketball programs in the country that would look great in a loaded Big 12, great golf, tennis, baseball and swimming.
The Big 12 was vulnerable five years ago when there was talk of the Pac-16. The roles are reversed now, and it’s time for the Big 12 to go steal two teams from them.
The only problem? It makes too much sense for the Big 12 to carry out.