As it turns out, the SEC is not the only conference to reveal some rather significant news on the scheduling front Wednesday.
Conjuring up images of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in basketball, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced today that they have entered into an agreement for a future series involving the members of the respective conferences. Beginning in 2017, each of the 12 members of the Pac-12 will face a member of the 12-school Big Ten in football.
The news of the collaboration was first reported by Pete Thamel of the New York Times.
“As other conferences continue to grow through expansion, we believe there is great merit in deepening the historic relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12,” said Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. “We believe that both conferences can preserve that sense of collegiality and still grow nationally by leveraging our commonalities in a way that benefits student-athletes, fans and alumni. This collaboration can and will touch many institutional undertakings, and will complement our academic and athletic missions.”
“Through numerous conversations over the past several months with stakeholders from the Big Ten and Pac-12, we decided there would be great value in building upon the history and collegiality that exists between our member institutions, by initially committing to an increased frequency of play between our schools in all sports,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times writes that “[t]he goal by 2017 is for each Pac-12 school to play a Big Ten school on its nonconference football schedule.” Dufresne also writes that “[p]lans include a preseason game at the Rose Bowl, possibly as soon as 2013 or 2014, involving schools from each conference.”
Scott confirmed the possibility/probability of an interleague game at the Rose Bowl prior to the 2017 season, saying “it’s fair to say you’ll see it in some form or faction.” Scott’s counterpart Delany is open to neutral site games in the Midwest, with such venues as Soldier Field, Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field mentioned as possibilities.
Delany also said that the Big Ten/Pac-12 games would take place during the second, third and fourth weeks of the season, although Scott allowed that there could be season kickoff events involving these interleague games as well.
The two commissioners first discussed the possibility of a collaboration during the summer, with meetings between the member presidents/chancellors and athletic directors finalizing the agreement.
One casualty of the series will be the nine-game conference slate the Big Ten was scheduled to undertake in the coming years; Delaney told the Times that his conference will stick with the balance provided by an eight-game slate. The Pac-12 already incorporates a nine-game conference schedule, but will discuss the issue further.
Incidentally, the scheduling agreement will also include matchups in other sports as well.