The ACC and Pac-12 have discussed what has been termed a “loose partnership” that could end the season with the conferences playing a “championship game” in Las Vegas, sources confirm to CBS Sports.
The concept, believed to have been proposed by the ACC, is seen as a way for the conferences’ common rightsholder, ESPN, to increase the value of their current media rights contracts.
It’s not likely this proposal would have much impact considering ESPN has cost certainty with the ACC in a contract that lasts through 2036. The Pac-12 is trying to survive after the loss of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024. Rights for Pac-12 teams without the California powers are now worth about $30 million annually, down from approximately $42 million per program with the Trojans and Bruins in the fold.
John Canzano first reported the proposed the Pac-12 discussing a “loose partnership” with another conference Tuesday afternoon, noting some regular-season crossover games could be played in addition to the “championship game.”
Sources indicate the proposal is viewed as a “strength in numbers” move. While the 24 combined ACC and Pac-12 teams wouldn’t have nearly the clout of the 32 programs combined in the SEC and Big Ten, it would be something to combat the growing financial gap between those burgeoning superconferences and everyone else.
With the Big 12 and Pac-12 in flux, ACC schools are becoming increasingly aware of a media rights gap that could approach $50 million per year compared to the SEC and Big Ten.
It has been widely speculated that some combination of Clemson, Florida State and Miami could be a fit if the SEC chooses to expand again.
The Big 12 is considering adding up to six Pac-12 schools to fortify itself, CBS Sports reported Tuesday. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are the primary teams being targeted with Oregon and Washington also under consideration.
Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is just trying to stay viable. On Tuesday, the league announced it was going to market early to negotiate the rights for its 10 remaining teams. The Pac-12’s current contract with ESPN and Fox expires in 2024, though Fox isn’t expected to be interested in Pac-12 rights going forward.