One bombshell out of Big 12 country Friday was news that the Big 12 was in discussions with three other conferences to form a scheduling alliance. Those talks were confirmed by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby but he would not name the leagues involved.
One of those conferences he did confirm that were in the discussions was the ACC. Several sources are speculating the unnamed leagues are the Pac-12 and Big Ten who actually discussed a similar option over a year ago.
In an interview with the American-Statesman, Bowlsby said that the talks have been ongoing. Besides a scheduling agreement the discussions have included the possibility of cooperation with marketing and television strategies. A scheduling alliance, he noted, could also be an alternative to any future expansion within the Big 12. “It’s a process of discovery,” Bowlsby said, “that would provide some of the benefits of larger membership without actually adding members.”
The subject of expansion and the alliance proposal will be presented during meetings beginning on Monday with the Big 12 athletic directors who will be meeting in Grapevine, Texas. But nothing immediate is expected to be decided beyond exploratory discussions.
One benefit for such a scheduling agreement would be to slow down the realignment circus. But it could also adversely affect the future scheduling of nonconference games with the Mountain West or other mid-major conferences, perhaps eliminating most of them all together. It could have a more severe impact on independent programs such as BYU.
Also troubling is the impact it could eventually have on future bowl game participation that Bowlsby said might be included. A scheduling agreement for any bowl matchups could lead to the exclusion of those teams not in the alliance and a deeper division of the Power 5 from the mid-majors.
Could a scheduling agreement come together in the grand nature of things? Bowlsby only adds to the speculation that this story could have legs. “It’s purely exploratory,” he said.