Conference realignment discussions had somewhat died down with the college football season fast approaching, but some news came out Monday morning.
Oregon has initiated preliminary discussions with the Big Ten to determine if the institution is a fit with the conference, according to Brett McMurphy. This comes after the Big Ten already destabilized the Pac-12 by taking USC and UCLA this summer. With the backing of Nike founder Phil Knight, Oregon is seen as the best remaining institution of the Pac-12.
An interesting piece of McMurphy’s report is that Oregon’s president and athletic director weren’t involved in the discussion, and neither was Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. So … who was there?
Since USC and UCLA left the Pac-12, the West Coast league’s longevity has been called into question. The Big 12 had been linked with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah in various reports, and some reports even linked Oregon and Washington with the Big 12.
It’s hard to imagine, if given the option, Oregon would choose the Big 12 over the Big Ten (just look at this TV deal), but if the Ducks were to fly to the Big Ten, the domino effect could push the Arizona schools, Utah and Colorado further into discussions with the Big 12.
At Big 12 Media Days in July, new conference commissioner Brett Yormark declared the Big 12 “open for business.” With his back against the wall in this game of thrones, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff refuted the “open for business” comment at Pac-12 Media Days, saying “We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there or not yet.” Kliavkoff also accused the Big 12 of trying to “destabilize” the Pac-12 (though the Big Ten kind of already did that).
“We are exploring all options, and we’re open for business,” Yormark said at Big 12 Media Days. “Optionality is good, and we’re vetting through all of them.
“I think it’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls, a lot of interest. People understand the direction of the Big 12, and we’re exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent, but we’re working hard to make sure that we position the Big 12 in the best possible way on a go-forward basis.”
So, though Oregon might be more likely to go to the Big Ten than the Big 12 at this time, the next set of tumbling dominoes could be coming soon.