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Big 12 Reportedly in Discussions with Pac-12’s ‘Four Corners Schools’ to Potentially Join League

Realignment never sleeps!



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Big 12 and new commissioner Brett Yormark’s aggressive approach to expanding the league in the latest round of realignment may take another twist for the better in the near future. The Athletic reported on Friday that the league is in talks with the Pac-12’s Four Corners Schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — with “renewed optimism that convincing them to join [the Big 12] is possible.”

The latest realignment rumor mill comes as the Pac-12 and new commissioner George Kliavkoff struggle to find traction in the market for a new media deal. The Big 12 last fall signed a multi-billion dollar deal that seemed to lock up questions about the league’s health long-term, but the Pac-12 has not found as much success in getting buy-in from media partners.

Kliavkoff last July made the bold proclamation that no conference member of his from the Pac-12 would defect to the Big 12 while waving off overtures from the Big 12 in potentially joining forces in a possible merger. Even then it seemed like a desperate, futile attempt to act tough with the Pac-12 circling the drain, and especially so now in hindsight with the league in serious trouble. Not only is UCLA and USC leaving for the Big Ten, but the lack of success in finding a new media deal portends poorly for the league’s long-term future as well.

The Big 12 is losing Texas and Oklahoma but it already has expansion members on the way in UCF, Cincinnati, BYU and Houston. Armed with a new media deal, new incoming members and clear uncertainty with the Pac-12’s future, Yormark may be in position to seize upon a window to convince the Four Corners Schools that the Big 12 — not the Pac-12 — is the better option for the future. And further expansion was among the top priorities for him entering 2023, which he noted after agreeing to allow OU and Texas to depart for the SEC earlier than initially anticipated.

Getting the Four Corners Schools would be a boon to the business of the Big 12 but also a possible death knell for a competitor in the Pac-12 to boot. There are also ongoing talks with Gonzaga, though The Athletic said Yormark wants clarity on the Pac-12 schools before progressing on those talks. All signs point to further expansion either way in the Big 12, which should only strengthen its standing in the marketplace.

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