On Wednesday, the Pac-12 and Big 10 agreed to a scheduling partnership for all sports with basketball beginning next year and football starting in the 2017 season. The main reason for the move is to increase the level of play between all sports and have more high profile programming on both the Big 10 Network and the soon to be running Pac-12 Network:
"To me, this is a creative and inventive approach through collaboration to achieve some of the same objectives that expansion can help you with," [Pac-12 commissioner Larry] Scott said. "It gives our conference more of a national platform, more play on the Big Ten Network and higher quality programming on our network without having to expand."
Translation: More money for each league.
This is not a bad idea and it seems quite familiar minus the merger part. The reason this will be successful for these two leagues compared to Mountain West and Conference USA is because it is not a merger but a scheduling alliance. If Conference USA and the Mountain West just go and have a scheduling partnership it would be great, because most of the teams in each league are fairly comparable in talent level. These games would not be against a low level opponent or hurt the RPI in basketball, plus the main crux of the agreement is cross promotion on the opposing leagues television networks.
This agreement between the Pac-12 and Big 10 means that expanding beyond their current 12 teams is highly unlikely to happen, and that is a good thing. Seeing leagues beyond 14 is just ridiculous in my opinion and too unwieldy which is why I think the Big East expanding to the West coast will not last too long.
This move will create a ton of money for both leagues with more marquee programming on each network and it will probably benefit the Olympic sports more than any other since they will get to be on television more often and against a good opponent.
The Mountain West and Conference USA could take notes from these two leagues and stick with an alliance and even possibly drop the silly notion of a cross-conference championship game. Instead the two leagues should work together to form a similar scheduling arrangement as the Big 10 and Pac-12.
I was never on board with a full on merger or the title game talk, but seeing New Mexico take on UTEP in all sports or see Wyoming take on Southern Miss in football would be a welcomed change and limit the amount of FCS games a team would play each year.
Maybe the Mountain West and Conference USA will reconsider their all-sports merger.