To Keep From Falling Behind, The PAC-12 Is Looking At A ‘Loose Partnership’ With Another Conference

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  • The PAC-12 is eyeing a loose partnership with another conference
  • That move could help keep the league from being picked apart
  • USC and UCLA have already been poached from the conference

The PAC-12 is just looking to stay alive after having two of its top brands poached by another conference. Late last week, it was announced that USC and UCLA would be on the move to the Big Ten.

Without presence in Los Angeles, the value of the PAC-12 has taken an immediate hit. And that financial loss could lead to the league dissolving should other members choose to follow suit.

In order to keep top teams like Stanford, Oregon, and Washington from cutting ties, the conference is evaluating its options. The consensus seems to be adding more teams.

That could come in many different forms.

There are Group of Five programs on the West Coast that would love an opportunity to join the PAC-12. Teams like Boise State, San Diego State, and Fresno State have been nationally relevant over the last 20 years, but those moves might not move the needle in terms of revenue.

So, the more attractive option would be to join forces with either the ACC or Big XII.

It was rumored this week that the Big XII was trying to target up to six PAC-12 schools in realignment, which would effectively kill the conference. Instead of crumbling, it looks like the league is attempting to form a “loose partnership” with another conference in order to ensure most of its members stay locked in.

PAC-12 eyeing loose partnership with either ACC, Big XII

John Canzano of the Fox Sports Eugene says that the PAC-12 is looking to form a loose partnership with another conference. That would help convince current members from leaving for greener pastures while also locking in a media and television deal.

A source with knowledge of their conversations told me the Pac-12 leaders are now considering a “loose partnership” with another conference.

Presumably, that conference is the ACC or maybe the Big 12.

The Pac-12 issued a statement on Tuesday morning, indicating that conference leadership was given the go-ahead to accelerate its media rights negotiations. I took this to mean that a potential TV partner (Read: ESPN) might be initiating the “loose partnership” discussions.

It looks like the ACC is the top target. Both currently have ESPN deals, which would make a media partnership easier to navigate. Canzano also says the conference prefers the ACC markets.

A partnership could take the form of regular season cross-over games as well as a PAC-12 vs. ACC championship game. It’s definitely an interesting concept. It could be lined up as an East vs. West type deal.

What would a “loose partnership” with the ACC look like? It could include a shared media rights deal with ESPN, who currently works with both entities. Also, it could result in the 10 remaining Pac-12 teams sticking together and the winner of that “10-team division” playing in an ACC vs. Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas at the end of the season. Also, there could be some attractive regular-season crossover games between the entities in football and men’s basketball.

“Geography aside,” Thompson told me Tuesday, “(the ACC) has significantly better TV markets than the Big 12.”

The PAC-12 is trying to be aggressive with its next move, and it certainly doesn’t seem like they’re ready to fold.