The Big Ten has evaluated Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington from the Pac-12 considering further expansion

INDIANAPOLIS – As the conference’s expansion rages on, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren has left us breadcrumbs to follow in recent days. Warren’s hints could further expand into another bomb that would rock the Pac-12.

The Big Ten is evaluating the feasibility of adding Pac-12’s Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington to expand its conference to at least 20 teams, sources told CBS Sports this week.

While Warren has not confirmed expansion activities with those specific schools, Warren told CBS Sports that the addition of any teams outside of USC and UCLA (joining in 2024) will come after the completion of an existing media rights deal in August.

“We’re not targeting,” Warren said when CBS Sports inquired directly about the nominations for these four shows. “As I said, my focus is on taking care of our fourteen institutions.”

However, it’s fair to say that statements made during Warren’s State of the Union address at Big Ten Media Days this week have sent a wave of anxiety through college athletics that another bombshell could drop. The Business Network first reported the Big Ten’s interest in these programs.

The idea of ​​adding Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington would be to create a western barrier that would be academically attractive enough for the Big Ten bosses to agree to further expansion. However, it was uncertain whether any of the future Big Ten rights holders would find value in such a move.

Financially, these four programs are nowhere near the money now expected to be distributed to Big Ten schools with USC and UCLA in the fold ($80 million to $100 million annually). Competitively speaking, though, it will be the lifeblood of the best soccer brands in the Pac-12.

Oregon has played in tournaments, Washington has two titles, and Stanford is considered the second-best in the Pac 12 team because of the excellence that has been established under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw. Stanford and Cal are also known for their widely successful sports divisions. CBS Sports previously reported Oregon’s despairUCLA’s abandonment of Cal has infuriated California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The 20-team Big Ten is arguably the largest group of soccer brands in the history of major college sports. It will also give pause to a university institution trying to figure out its future these days.

Warren used a form of the word “bold” eight times on Tuesday. The word “aggressive” was used three times in his speech. Unlike Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey last weekWarren issued a veiled warning: The Big Ten may not be finished.

“From an expansion standpoint, the answer is … we’re not in the market, but we’re always looking for what makes sense,” Warren told CBS Sports.

“Every day they get asked, ‘What next?'” Warren said during his Big Ten speech. “It may include expansion in the future, but it will be done for the right reasons at the right time with our student-athletes, and academic and athletic empowerment at the heart of any and all decisions we will make on any further expansions.”

Industry sources tell CBS Sports that Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington won’t deliver as much value as the 16 teams that will make up the league in 2024 with USC and UCLA in the fold. This could result in the four programs receiving significantly less revenue than current members just for the long-term safety of the Big Ten.

Industry sources say the revenue cuts Cal, Oregon, Stanford and Washington have taken to join the Big Ten – compared to other conference members – should be “significant”. This will pose a problem for rights holders trying to restructure an already existing deal.

However, the revenue these four teams could earn would likely still be much higher than the combined value of the remaining ten Pac-12 schools together. This figure is estimated to be between $21 million and $30 million per school annually.

However, rights holders who get parts of the lucrative Big Ten deal (still under negotiation) will have to spend extra money for those schools. The Big Ten contract is already expected to reach $1 billion annually.

The inclusion of these four programs will lead to “dilution,” an industry term referring to the proportion of attractive games that are reduced by the addition of substandard inventory.

The move could also lead to the collapse of Pac-12, which is desperately trying to stay with its current 10 members. Then the question becomes: Will the Big Ten expansion force the Securities and Exchange Commission to take a similar move? And that’s after Sankey indicated last week that his conference will hold back from expansion for the time being.

“I think Greg and I have an increased responsibility to make sure we’re prudent in our stride,” Warren told CBS Sports. “I always ask myself, will this decision make sense 50 years from now?”

There is basically a responsibility for upsetting the higher end of college athletics. With these four schools, the Big Ten will have more than 30% of the current 65 Power Five teams.

This does not include a possible addition to Notre Dame if it decides to give up its independence. Stanford joining the Big Ten will make the league more attractive to the Irish fight, A former source told CBS Sports:.

“I embrace change,” Warren said. “I’d be too aggressive. I’ve been that way my whole career.”

College athletics sources reached out to CBS Sports concerned with the content of Warren’s speech on Wednesday. They thought, even if Warren would be aggressive in further expansion, keeping it to himself rather than sending waves of anxiety through college athletics might be a safer move.

“We’re not just going to expand to expand,” Warrens said. “It will be strategic and will add additional value to our conference.”

When asked about his requirements in pursuing new members, Warren went to his checklist.

“Good fit. This is a holistic view,” Warren told CBS Sports. “With that, it’s academic stability. Second, athletic strength. Three, their alumni base. Four, their fan base. Five, the progressive nature of their leadership. That’s what made USC and UCLA so special.”

Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington are all members of the prestigious American Association of Universities (AAU), a group of top research institutions. In the current Big Ten, only Nebraska is not a member.

The money problem and the turmoil of further expansion led one prominent observer to ask: Would it make more sense for these four to stay out of the West in a reconfigured Pac-12 game than for athletes traveling across the country in a new league where they would likely be less competitiveness?

The Big Ten may be about to answer this more athletics question. What moral obligation would the league have in reorganizing the college’s best player? Academically, the four schools fit into the Big Ten, but at what cost for the rest of the Five Powers?

“We’re dealing with today because the college athletics business has grown faster than the college athletics structure and governance,” Warren said.

Such a move would strip Pac-12 of half its members. Sources suggest the Pac-12 will likely have to reform to stay afloat with calls from the likes of San Diego State and Fresno State. One of the posters placed on this rally was “Mountain West Plus”.

Pac-12 can be at risk on two fronts. According to sources, Big 12 is also working to focus on expanding westward with Arizona. There is no indication as to whether Arizona State will follow, although CBS Sports previously reported that ASU, Colorado and Utah were the targets of the Big 12. Sources indicate that San Diego State plays its part in both the Pac-12 and the Big 12.

The further expansion will be the latest in a series of grueling moves Warren has taken since taking office on January 1, 2020.

After two months on the job, Warren annoyed his peers by canceling the season due to COVID-19 concerns. He later relented, but a late start to the season cost Ohio State a place in a football playoff game. The Buckeyes did not play the required number of matches to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game that year. The players’ parents protested in front of the Big Ten’s desk that year demanding that the season begin.

Sportico reported Tuesday that top athletic directors are considering a vote of no confidence in Warren in 2020.

“He inherited a nightmare,” said Barry Alvarez, a former Wisconsin coach and athletic director who is now the Big Ten’s chief football advisor. “I came during a pandemic. There is no book.” How do I deal with this? “Every meeting is on Zoom. I think Kevin’s first face-to-face meeting was last May with the coaches and administrators. I really think he’s grown with the league.”

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