SBD/July 16, 2012/Colleges

Citing Scheduling Issues, Big Ten And Pac-12 Call Off Joint Agreement

Four Pac-12 schools said they would not accept mandatory scheduling
The scheduling partnership between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences “has been called off because of football scheduling issues involving several Pac-12 schools,” according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. A round-robin football schedule, featuring 12 games per year between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, “had been the cornerstone of the pact, though it also included elements involving other sports and the two leagues' television networks.” The Pac-12 approached the Big Ten in March and said that several of its members "had reservations about a mandatory scheduling agreement.” The “main problem: The Pac-12 currently plays nine league games per season, while the Big Ten plays only eight.” At least four Pac-12 schools “ultimately decided they would not accept mandatory scheduling.” With the Pac-12 agreement dead, the Big Ten “will consider increasing its conference games per year from eight to nine.” The Big Ten “also could consider exploring a scheduling agreement with another conference” (ESPN.com, 7/13).

THE DETAILS: In L.A., Scott Wolf wrote Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott last Friday “committed his first major blunder” when the conference “dissolved its alliance with the Big Ten Conference that called for 12 interleague games per season beginning in 2017.” The alliance was “a premature idea because some of the conference's big dogs, such as USC, refused to go along with the agreement.” Wolf: “A pertinent question today is why didn't this get discussed in December before the agreement was reached?” What the breakdown “also showed is Scott’s power is limited.” He might not “dwell on the end of the Pac-12/Big Ten agreement for too long,” as a more “pressing matter might be his new Pac-12 Network, which debuts next month.” As of Saturday, 60% of the country “does not receive the channel and there is no agreement with DirecTV or Dish Network” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/14). Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said, “We’ll have to go back to ground zero and we don’t have a lot of time to do it.” In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein wrote the deal “would have allowed the Big Ten to remain at eight conference games while beefing up its non-league slates with matchups more appealing to fans, TV partners and a playoff selection committee” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/14). Delany said, “We were hoping to capture lightning in a bottle, and that it was a win-win for everyone. They were struggling with it, mostly their nine-game schedule and Notre Dame ties.” Scott said, “The Big Ten wanted 12 games a year. It wasn’t in our interest at this stage. It doesn’t mean we won’t figure something else out down the road” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/14).
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