The Big 12 and SEC have already come together on a postseason game that they hope will become their version of the Rose Bowl. Now, the two conferences could be looking to deepen the relationship between the leagues.
While talks thus far have been exploratory at best, an SEC official confirmed to the Birmingham News that they would be open to continuing discussions on an extended partnership with the Big 12. Per the News, that would include regular-season football and basketball scheduling as well as, the paper writes, “marketing and possibly even television partnerships.”
“That’s a situation we would keep an open mind on, but we haven’t had a lot of significant discussions at this point,” Womack said. “There’s a lot of different ways that could work. At this point, we’re continuing to move forward with scheduling the conference as we’ve planned.”
In an interview with the Austin-American Statesman late last week, commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged that the Big 12 is looking into an alliance with the ACC as well as two other unspecified conferences. The SEC is now confirmed to be one of the other two, while it’s widely believed the Pac-12 would be the other Bowlsby declined to name.
The conventional wisdom is that a partnership such as the 10-team Big 12 is discussing could help head off another round of conference expansion, although all it would take is for one league — specifically, the Big Ten — to add members to make any alliance talk moot.
In late December of 2011, the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced a scheduling agreement between the two conferences that was slated to begin in 2017. The goal of the agreement was for each of the 12 members of the Pac-12 to face a member of the 12-school Big Ten in football, strengthening the nonconference schedules of both leagues. In July of last year, and thanks in large part to the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule, the agreement was called off.
Four months later, the Big Ten announced the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, boosting the conference’s membership to the same 14-team level as the SEC and ACC — after the latter raided the Big East for Louisville, of course.