The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced today that they are suspending the previously planned collaboration between the two conferences on scheduling. Obviously that's a shame, as it could have provided some great match-ups. Here's the release from each commissioner.
From the Big Ten and Pac-12:
Statement from Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott:
“After extensive deliberation and consultation with member institutions, television partners and others, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have decided not to pursue the previously announced plans for enhanced scheduling collaboration across all sports at this time. While we continue to value our close relationship, particularly our partnership in the Rose Bowl, the Pac-12 came to the conclusion that it's in our best interests to maintain our nine-game conference schedule and maximum flexibility in out-of-conference scheduling. Thus, the Pac-12 decided not to lock into the proposed mandatory 12-game schedule in football.”
Statement from Big Ten Conference Commissioner James E. Delany:
“We are disappointed to announce today that the Big Ten Pac-12 strategic collaboration announced jointly in December 2011 unfortunately will not be consummated. We recently learned from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott that the complications associated with coordinating a non-conference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult. Those complications, among other things, included the Pac-12’s nine-game conference schedule and previous non-conference commitments.
“A great effort was made by both conference staffs to create football schedules that would address the variety of complexities, but in the end, we were just not able to do so.
“While everyone at the Big Ten is disappointed by the news, we look forward to continuing the historic partnership that we have with the Pac-12 and to working together on other matters in the future.”
by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn)
There’s really no positive spin to this latest development, with the one possible exception of it increasing the chances the Big Ten eventually implements a nine-game league schedule. But for those of us who prefer marquee matchups between power conference teams early in the season, this is rotten news. Big Ten teams have made efforts to ramp up their nonconference schedule strength in recent years, but this is a major pushback against that trend. Rather than kicking off the non-league slate with a high-stakes matchup against, say, USC, Stanford, or Oregon in the now defunct series’ designated years of operation, Big Ten teams will treat their fans to glorified scrimmages with MAC opponents and other patsies. There was talk of the new playoff agreement prompting a widespread increase in nonconference schedule strength for power conference teams. This latest divorce seems to refute that notion, though the Pac-12’s nine-game schedule presumably factored largely into the decision.
Luckily for Northwestern, its scheduled series with Cal (2013-2014) and Stanford (2015-2015, 2019-2022) are not affected by the proposed agreement falling through, so Wildcats fans will have an opportunity to experience an enticing array of Big Ten-Pac 12 interconference competition. While the Golden Bears have taken a step back in recent years, they’re still a formidable opponent with the talent, depth and experience to challenge NU score for score. And Stanford, after reaching BCS bowls in consecutive years, looks poised to stake its foothold among the Pac-12 heavyweights. Both of these series will increase fan interest in the early stages of the college football season, it’s just a shame that other Big Ten teams won’t be able to follow suit with a full-fledged scheduling partnership.