Realignment mania: Oregon at center of wild Friday morning
Is this the final day of the Pac-12 as we know it? Its fate may rest in the hands of the Big Ten.
Black Friday is here for the Pac-12.
The Big Ten has agreed to move ahead with the additions of Oregon and Washington, per a source with knowledge of the situation, delivering the Pac-12 an effective knockout punch as it takes away the conference’s top remaining members.
There is a formal process to this that is expected to be finalized later Friday, with the incoming schools submitting applications that will then be voted on by the Big Ten’s council of chancellors and presidents.
That vote will be unanimous in favor of the additions, despite reservations from a number of current Big Ten schools.
The move is a feather in the cap for new Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, who has hired just more than four months ago and has further strengthened the Big Ten’s standing, as it is now the first 18-team conference, and one that spans coast to coast.
USC and UCLA
The game of realignment chess reached new levels of fluidity Friday morning, with Pac-12 presidents meeting but not closing a new media deal, Big Ten presidents meeting to discuss whether they really want to expand, and the rest of the college sports world waiting with bated breath to see who is left standing where by the end of the day.
The two biggest pieces at the center of it all are Oregon and Fox, as the network has been pushing the Big Ten to add the Ducks — and, by extension, likely Washington — to deliver a death blow to the Pac-12 and further strengthen the media conglomerate’s partners in both the Big Ten and the Big 12, per a source briefed on the matter.
There was an expectation Thursday night that Arizona was all but a lock to leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12, as the Arizona board of regents met in executive session to discuss the matter. The board also oversees Arizona State, though, and longtime ASU president Michael Crow has been described by multiple sources as hesitant to play a central role in the Pac-12’s demise. Crow has long been the conference’s biggest enabler, supporting embattled former commissioner Larry Scott and driving many of the ill-fated decisions that have put the conference in its perilous current state. Ultimately, the pull of a messy conference that has Crow’s stamp all over it could keep ASU from leaving, despite more long-term security in the Big 12.
Washington’s board of regents met Thursday night as well and immediately went into executive session.