In order to kickstart the new scheduling alliance with the Big Ten and ACC, the Pac-12 is hoping to downsize from a nine-game conference football schedule to an eight-game conference schedule, new commissioner George Kliavkoff told reporters in Pullman on Friday.
Doing so would create opportunities to schedule an ACC or Big Ten opponent sooner rather than later. Currently, many Pac-12 schools have already filled their non-conference schedules years in advance, meaning it could take several years for the scheduling alliance to take its desired effect. Arizona, for instance, only has two open spots on its non-conference schedule through 2027—one in 2024 and another in 2026.
“It depends on whether or not we’re able to renegotiate our nine-conference-game schedule with ESPN and FOX,” Kliavkoff said. “If we’re able to re-negotiate that down to eight, and the Big Ten is able to do that as well, we can start playing these games next year. But there’s a lot of work to be done to get there.”
George Kliavkoff said today that The Alliance wants to renegotiate their 9 conference game skeds w/ ESPN & Fox down to 8. That means they can start playing Alliance games sooner. The "north star" of The Alliance is to have one home and one road game for each program. pic.twitter.com/HKT8juPpCF— Brenna Greene (@BrennaGreene_) August 27, 2021
The Pac-12 and Big Ten are the only major conferences that play a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC, SEC and Big 12 play eight.
If the Pac-12 cannot reach a deal with ESPN and FOX, it may have to wait until 2024 when its media rights deal expires to change its conference schedule.
Kliavkoff said the end goal is for all three conferences in the alliance to play eight league games, plus one home game and one road game against teams from the other two conferences in the alliance.
Pac-12 not pursuing expansion
The conference released this statement on Thursday: “Following consultation with our Presidents, Chancellors and Athletic Directors, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to not pursue expansion of our membership at this time.”
There were rumors that Big 12 schools like Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State would be interested in joining the Pac-12 after the Big 12 lost Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.