By: John Weis
“Why is it taking so long for the PAC-12 schools to realize their conference is a sinking ship, and move on to bigger and better things in the Big XII or the Big Ten?” This question has been asked by countless college football experts, podcasters, and fans across the country for the last several months.
If you really want to know the answer, it can be summed up in two words: Moving sucks. Think about all the things you have to do in your personal life when you move – packing; saying goodbye to family, friends, and coworkers; leaving the place you’ve called home; starting a new job; unpacking; making your new house a home; beginning a new job; the list goes on and on. There’s no doubt it’s an emotional process from beginning to end.
Those same emotions are what PAC-12 teams considering a move are feeling right now. Take off the rose-colored Big XII glasses for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of any PAC-12 president. Less than two years ago, the PAC-12 was in a similar situation as the Big XII finds itself in today. The Big XII had just discovered they’d be losing Oklahoma and Texas, making them vulnerable to poachers from other conferences.
Now fast-forward to today, in the post-USC/UCLA-to-Big-Ten world, where rumors persist of nearly every PAC-12 team relocating to a new conference. But if you are a president of a PAC-12 school, this isn’t easy to do. If such a move took place, they would have to uproot themselves from a conference they’ve called home for decades; a place where they have made friends and formed meaningful business relationships. Worse yet, in the case of the Big XII, they’d be joining forces with an enemy conference over which they recently had superiority.
If such a move was made to procure millions of dollars more (like UCF, Houston and Cincinnati recently did by jumping from the AAC to the Big XII), that’s perfectly understandable and it would require no second thought. For those with potential Big Ten membership possibilities, this would certainly be true. But to PAC-12 presidents whose teams are being courted by the Big XII, it likely seems more like a lateral move to them; a last-resort maneuver that would be done only to ensure security and media exposure going forward, not for any giant increase in revenue compared to what they’re currently making. For them, there is no feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy story here. It is climbing in bed with their enemy; an if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them business decision made because there is no better alternative. It’s no wonder the PAC-12 teams are waiting until the last possible second to make a decision.
The PAC-12 continues hoping against hope that commish George Kliavkoff can somehow negotiate a suitable media contract for the next five-ish years, and thereby save his conference. That would be a good start, but a media deal by itself may not be enough anymore. There are now other issues working against the PAC-12 besides just the lack of a media deal. There are fractures among the ranks, as each team has its own agenda. Cal and Stanford want to join USC and UCLA in the Big Ten. So do Washington and Oregon, and if they stayed, would they demand unequal revenue shares? The “four-corner” schools, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado, are listening intently to overtures from the Big XII. Meanwhile, Washington State and Oregon State will sign anything that guarantees they won’t be left behind during realignment and subsequently get relegated to the Mountain West.
Can Kliavkoff get a deal done, and then persuade everyone to compromise enough to sign on the dotted line and keep the conference together? One thing’s for sure: He will continue to be given every opportunity to do so until university presidents can’t wait any longer.
It’s a tall order for Kliavkoff, but he has one major thing on his side: Moving sucks.
John Weis is a freelance Writing/PR professional. His company, Weis Words (www.weiswords.biz) serves national clients such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, and sports organizations, as well as small businesses and private individuals. A native Central Floridian and sports enthusiast, he spent six seasons as Broadcast Coordinator for the Orlando Magic Radio Network early in his career. He graduated from UCF in 1994 with a degree in Communications and can’t wait for the Knights to move to the Big XII.