The Pac-12 is still upset about UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten, but what’s done is done. When it comes to the Big 12, though, that beef is still fresh.
Commissioner George Kliavkoff spoke for 45 minutes on Friday to open Pac-12 Football Media Day in Los Angeles, during which he reiterated the disappointment in losing two programs to another conference but also made it clear the league isn’t going to sit back and allow itself to be poached any further.
“We’ve had two board meetings a week for the last four weeks,” he said. “Looking my colleagues in the eye, understanding their commitment, that their first priority is making sure that the Pac-12 survives, thrives and grows and is successful.”
The Pac-12 might do some of its own poaching, Kliavkoff intimated, possibly from the Big 12.
“With respect to the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that,” he said. “We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there or not yet. I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades that have been lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12 trying to destabilize our remaining conference.
“I understand why they’re doing it, when you look at the relative media value between the two conferences. I get it, I get why they’re scared, why they’re trying to destabilize (the Pac-12).”
Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 has had “significant inbound interest” from schools wishing to join the conference, though he declined to say who those schools might be. He said the league’s criteria for new members will start with “media value” but also include “whether or not they would contribute to the Conference of Champions” in terms of performance. Additional criteria include academic and cultural fit as well as travel concerns.
“We think about travel and about what we’re going to put our student-athletes through if we expand geographically too far away,” he said.