LAS VEGAS — The last year of college athletics has made one thing abundantly clear: while the 'Power-5' still exists, the power has shifted to two dominant conferences in the SEC and the Big Ten.
First the Big 12 watched Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC, although they recovered by adding Houston, BYU, UCF, and Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 was blindsided by the decision of USC and UCLA to join the Big Ten, leaving them far more vulnerable while they continue to try to secure a media rights deal.
Locked on Pac-12 host Spencer McLaughlin remains optimistic a media deal is coming soon for the conference of champions, and he also explores an additional option for the league: an alliance with the ACC.
"I'm not saying it's going to allow you to catch the Big Ten and the SEC, but when you have a Pac-12 team playing an ACC team, you're going to put that in a primetime window," McLaughlin said. "You have a national audience paying attention to the game."
The ACC, Pac-12, and Big Ten previously had an alliance, but that quickly fell apart when the Big Ten poached USC and UCLA. However, a scheduling agreement between the two conferences would give the Pac-12 more exposure t an east coast audience, while creating better matchups for the ACC in non-conference scheduling as well.
A merger is hard to envision from a geography standpoint, but regular non-conference games would boost exposure for both leagues and isn't very complicated to put together.
The Pac-12's primary focus right now is getting a media rights deal secured and ensuring they don't lose any other members, but following that with an ACC alliance and more premier non-conference games will only help the conference as they continue to pull out of the sticky situation created by USC and UCLA's upcoming departure.