The Pac-12/Big 10 Scheduling Alliance, where teams from the conferences were to schedule non-conference games against each other in all sports, has collapsed before it ever really got off the ground.
A round-robin football schedule, featuring 12 football games per year between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, had been the foundation of the plan, but several members of the Pac-12 have balked at the plan. The fact that the Pac-12 already plays 9 conference games, while the Big 10 only plays 8, led to concerns about the schedule being overly difficult, especially given some of the long-standing non-conference rivalries that also exist (AD speak for the USC and Stanford games with Notre Dame).
"We are disappointed to announce today that the Big Ten/Pac-12 strategic collaboration announced jointly in December 2011 unfortunately will not be consummated," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement.
"We recently learned from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that the complications associated with coordinating a nonconference 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 nonconference 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."
Games announced in advance of the scheduling alliance, which was slated to go into full affect in 2017, remain on the schedule. Also, the Big 10 will take another look at playing 9 conference games, a move they had initially decided upon, but put on hold when the prospect of an annual game against a Pac-12 team came into play.
The obvious losers in this are the small-market teams, including Oregon St., Washington St., Arizona, and to a degree Utah, who would have benefited most from visits by even middle of the pack Big 10 teams, never mind the occasional marquee program.
Secondarily, the loss of opponents of this profile will hurt the overall strength of schedule of all conference teams, a factor in competition for bowl bids and television contracts alike.
This is also the biggest set back to date for Scott in his efforts to raise the profile of the conference.