Just 12 months ago, the Big 12 Conference was rocked by news that Texas and Oklahoma planned to depart the league for the Southeastern Conference in 2025.
That left the the prospect of the Big 12 having just eight active members, but the conference moved quickly to add Houston, BYU, Cincinnati and Central Florida to its ranks no later than July 1, 2024. At the time, back in early September, it meant the conference was guaranteed to once more have 12 members.
But that number could be changing again.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported Tuesday that Big 12 is “in deep discussions” about adding multiple Pac-12 schools to the conference following USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten.
“Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were mentioned specifically as the teams being targeted by the Big 12,” Dodd wrote.
“There is also consideration of adding Oregon and Washington to make the Big 12 an 18-team league, the largest in the FBS. A merger of the Big 12 and Pac-12, in some form, is also a possibility.”
The Big 12 Conference has acted quickly to explore the possibility of adding Pac-12 programs to its ranks after news of the Big Ten’s recruitment of USC and UCLA.
But the Pac-12 is not sitting by idly, announcing Tuesday that the league’s board of directors had met and “authorized the Conference to immediately begin negotiations for its next media rights agreement” without USC and UCLA.
That may not be enough to dissuade the Big 12 from making a move to invite multiple Pac-12 members.
“(O)ne industry source suggested the Big 12 should quickly expand with Pac-12 teams then go to market early with rights-holders to get ahead of the Pac-12,” Dodd wrote of a future potential TV deal. “The Pac-12 deal with Fox and ESPN expires in 2024. The Big 12’s deal with the same networks expires in 2025.”
Inviting Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Arizona State would give the Big 12 five member schools in the Mountain Time Zone.
If Oregon and Washington are also included in the league’s expansion plans, the Big 12 would join the Big Ten in one day having members from sea to shining sea.