The Pac-12 and the Big 10 announced today that they will collaborate on scheduling and network cross-promotion.
The move expands on the long standing Rose Bowl relationship between the two conferences.
For football, it will take a while, due to the already in place non-conference games various schools have contracts for. But by 2017, the conferences are expecting to have a full, 12 game schedule in place, where every Pac-12 school will play a game every year against a Big 10 school.
Oregon St. may not see a direct effect from this in football until 2019, as the Beavers already have a home and home with Minnesota scheduled for 2017 and 2018, which will probably not be altered, though there is room on the Beavers' 2015 and 2016 schedules for the possible addition of games against Big 10 opponents.
Inter-conference games could be added prior to 2017 where schedule openings exist, according to the conference's joint news release.
But a decade from now, home and home series like the one Oregon St. is currently in the middle of with Wisconsin, will become a regular feature.The scheduling cooperation will become more apparent sooner for men's and women's basketball, where scheduling isn't typically as long term as for football. Neutral site games, a possibility for football, are much more feasible for basketball as well, as are double-headers, which could feature 4 teams, or a mens and womens double header, such as Oregon has done at times in Portland.
The move is in part to increase exposure and interesting matchups for both leagues without further expansion.
"We've obviously explored the possibility of going beyond 12 teams,'' Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "I've been a believer, philosophically, of that, if it made sense. Now, I don't see us expanding anytime in the foreseeable future. A lot of what we can do through collaborating with the Big Ten will help us accomplish some of the same things as expansion.''
"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," Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany added. "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."
The creation of more attractive intersectional games results in more games attractive to both the major networks, ESPN/ABC and FOX, as well as games that would have mutual interest to both the Big 10 network and the Pac 12 network, and their viewers.
Recruiting will benefit as well, with the Big 10 gaining exposure in California, and the Pac-12 gaining a presence in the populous areas of the midwest that the Big 10 occupies, and has not been that significant of a target for most schools in the Pac.
It should also ease scheduling challenges for small stadium Pac 12 schools, which is actually most of them, compared to the monstrous midwest venues at Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn St., Iowa, among others. Even when it is Indiana or Illinois, a more attractive opponent than some of the teams showing up in Corvallis and Eugene will be assured every other year or so.