Pac 12 and Big Ten strengthen bond in 2017
There isn’t a more closely-knit group in college football than the Pac 12 and Big Ten conferences. The relationship between them can be credited for the launch of the BCS, after a 55-year run by the two leagues that disallowed outside access to the Rose Bowl and its top ranked teams. That bond will be strengthen in the future, as the two conferences agreed on Wednesday to inter-league scheduling that would begin in 2017.
Starting in 2017, each team from the Pac-12 and the Big Ten will play a team from the other league in football each season, and the conferences will also begin to play each other extensively in other sports starting as soon as next season.–NY Times
The two conferences have often mingled on the football field, with the five meetings in 2011 provided proof of such. Beginning in 2017, the Pac 12 will have the full load of Big Ten programs on its out of conference slate, in what can be viewed as expansion without expanding.
The biggest winner in the agreement may be the individual networks bearing the conference names. By contract, ESPN and Fox will always air the most high profile games played by league members, but with the number of appealing out of conference games increasing, the Pac 12 and Big Ten Networks will benefit greatly.
What does it all mean for USC and teams anxious to schedule the Trojans? It reduces the number of open dates on the schedule.
Southern California already provided a small window of opportunity for other BCS challengers, having only three games to schedule outside of the league. That number decreases to two, with a schedule lock on the annual game versus Notre Dame. As we begin to add a Big Ten opponent to be played each year, the number of open dates is suddenly one per season.
As it is, programs have searched at least five years into the future to find an available slot on the USC calendar. That number is sure to double, with the amount of willing participants holding steady and fewer options available to accommodate them.
The Pac 12 was 1-4 versus the Big Ten in 2011, with USC accounting for the only victory.