ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Pac-12 breakup amid conference realignment ‘overstated’ at the moment

Jul 8, 2022, 2:35 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2022, 10:34 am
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at a press conference before the PAC-12 Football Champi...
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at a press conference before the PAC-12 Football Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Nobody is denying that Arizona State and Arizona, among other teams, could be considering leaving the Pac-12 after USC and UCLA shook up their college athletics arrangement on the West Coast. But it’s a holding pattern for now.

Unpredictability is the expectation. In the week-plus since USC and UCLA announced a decision to join the Big Ten starting in 2024, it appears the potential for the death of the Pac-12 is premature.

How is the league under new commissioner George Kliavkoff moving forward?

“The quick answer to that is you first have to galvanize what’s left of this conference,” 750 The Game host and columnist John Canzano told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “The initial reports that Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado might be leaving for the Big 12, I think they were dramatically overstated.

“I talked to the athletic directors at those schools and they, to a person, said their first priority was to trust in George Kliavkoff, trust in the conference and see what was going to happen. Like, don’t be hasty and jump to the Big 12 just because USC and UCLA had left. Stick around and slow-play this a little bit.”

Update: Following up with ASU, the school said 98.7 FM guest and 750 The Game host and columnist John Canzano did not speak with Sun Devil Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson on the topic of Pac-12 Conference structure and alignment.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel also used that term: overstated. Thamel wrote that new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has expressed interest in the four Pac-12 South schools through back channels.

The Arizona and mountain schools, however, have been convinced to keep an eye on what Oregon and Washington do — those two schools have reported interest in following the L.A. schools to Big Ten country.

The Pac-12 acted quickly to open negotiations around its next media rights deal thanks to Kliavkoff calling an emergency meeting, according to Canzano.

That will allow the conference to pursue avenues to either expand or find partnerships with other smaller conferences to entice a big television deal.

A Pac-12/ACC agreement to feature football games and more is somewhere to start. Canzano said such an arrangement could include annual non-conference games between each conference’s No. 1 seeds and No. 2 seeds — so on and so forth — from the prior year.

The hope would be that Pac-12/ACC duo would be viewed as the No. 3 superconference behind the expanding SEC and Big Ten.

Negotiations with ESPN and FOX, Canzano adds, will center over the number of eyeballs in each market.

“You have to think of it through the eyes of television executives. They’re not going to care about brand … not as much as about market size and households,” Canzano said.

That’s why Canzano believes Oregon and Washington might not receive offers to join the Big Ten.

Expansion from that TV perspective could lead the Pac-12 to focus on poaching teams out of the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. SMU, Houston and Baylor are such options.

Looking closer to the West Coast, Canzano adds that Fresno State and San Diego State would bring more eyeballs on TV screens than, say, more football-heavy brands like Boise State. There isn’t an obvious expansion option.

“None of ’em are no-brainers,” Canzano said. “I would expect they won’t take a flier here. They’ll stay at 10 unless something is a no-brainer: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah staying in the conference, and Oregon and Washington staying tight. I really feel like they’re pulling together right now.”

Penguin Air

Arizona State Football

Arizona State coach Herm Edwards speaks during the Pac-12 Conference men's NCAA college football me...
Kevin Zimmerman

Arizona State’s Herm Edwards makes SI’s most intriguing head coach list

It's not for the best of reasons, but a bit of national attention will be on Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards this upcoming season.
3 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils left guard LaDarius Henderson. (Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)...
Jake Anderson

ASU notebook: QB battle continues; LaDarius Henderson an on-field coach

The Arizona State Sun Devils football team wrapped up their fourth practice of fall camp on Saturday morning.
2 days ago
General view of action between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats during the sec...
Nikash Nath

Sun Devil football announces open house for Aug. 6

The event on Saturday, Aug. 6 will allow for the fans and community to engage with the 2022 Sun Devil football team.
2 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Jordan Clark. (Twitter Photo/@ASUFootball)...
Jake Anderson

Arizona State’s secondary to utilize length, Jordan Clark at safety

The Arizona State Sun Devils have a whopping 21 defensive backs on the roster heading into the 2022 college football season.
4 days ago
Pac-12 Conference commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks at Pac-12 NCAA college football media day Fr...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12, Larry Fitzgerald-backed startup to monetize highlights for NIL

The Pac-12 is entering the NIL space by partnering with a startup that will help athletes earn money from their personalized game highlights.
4 days ago
Arizona State defensive back Chase Lucas reacts after knocking down a pass against Colorado in the ...
Nikash Nath

Wildcats WR Jacob Cowing named his son after ASU product Chase Lucas

Here's something you don't see every day: A college football player naming his son after a former player from his rival school.
5 days ago
Pac-12 breakup amid conference realignment ‘overstated’ at the moment