The Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten announced an alliance on Tuesday that, they hope, will strengthen the three major conferences as the landscape of college sports evolves at a rapid pace. The move comes in response to the SEC acquiring Big 12 powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma.
The joint press release announcing the alliance did not shed many details—and there is no actual formal agreement between the conferences, only a handshake deal—but it includes a scheduling component that is designed to create new interconference games.
The press release also included this important item: “The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations.”
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren echoed that when he said in Tuesday’s press conference: “We are not going to interfere with any existing contracts. This is not about getting out of contracts and blowing everything up.”
Assuming that’s true, the alliance will have a minimal effect on Arizona’s football schedule for at least several years. As of now, the Wildcats only have two openings in their non-conference slate through 2027—one in 2024 and another in 2026.
Ironically, Arizona football’s next four non-conference games against Power 5 opponents include SEC and Big 12 teams. The Wildcats have a home-and-home series with Mississippi State in 2022 and 2023 and then a home-and-home with Kansas State in 2024 and 2025. And at some point Arizona might have to reschedule the 2020 game at Texas Tech that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The alliance could make a much bigger mark in sports like basketball, soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball. Those sports’ schedules are more malleable, with games usually only scheduled a year or two in advance. They also have longer seasons, leaving more room for non-conference opportunities.
The Pac-12 could shorten its nine-game football conference schedule to give its member schools more chances to schedule Big Ten or ACC opponents, but there’s no indication that that’s in the works. The Big Ten is the only other power conference that currently plays nine league games.
Arizona football future opponents
- 2022: at San Diego State, Mississippi State, North Dakota State
- 2023: NAU, at Mississippi State, UTEP
- 2024: NAU, at Kansas State
- 2025: at Hawaii, Weber State, Kansas State
- 2026: NAU, at BYU
- 2027: at Colorado State, BYU, NAU
- 2028: Colorado State, at Nebraska
- 2029: Virginia Tech
- 2030: at Virginia Tech
- 2031: Nebraska
- 2032: at Alabama
- 2033: Alabama