Cal and Stanford remain expansion free agents as ACC stalls on potential expansion talks

The ACC has reportedly hit some snags on adding Cal and Stanford. Will the Big Ten swoop in and grab them?

If the Big Ten has an eye on one more possible expansion to the west coast, then the news out of the ACC could be worth noting. According to multiple reports, the ACC’s discussions on exploring the potential additions of Cal and Stanford have hit a bit of a rough patch as the conference fails to collectively agree on the value of adding two of the four remaining schools from the Pac-12.

While Cal and Stanford would be great academic additions to the ACC, and the Olympic sports power that would be added with the two schools is unquestioned, the financial boost that would be generated is not nearly attractive enough to enough schools currently in the ACC to move the process any further.

According to a report from ESPN, one school that has been pushing hard for the additions of Cal and Stanford has been Notre Dame. While the Irish are a football independent and showing no signs of being ready to abandon that, Notre Dame is a member of the ACC in all other sports (except for ice hockey, where they are a Big Ten member). The same report suggests Notre Dame’s vote has been scrutinized because of its football independence.

“But multiple athletic directors have questioned why anyone in the league would listen to Notre Dame because the Irish remain so steadfast in remaining independent,” ESPN reports.

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Reading deeper into the ESPN report seems to suggest the ACC is exploring this potential expansion move almost for the sake of expansion to keep up in the numbers race. And that is probably not the most convincing reason to expand.

The ACC also has a deadline approaching for schools to inform the conference of any intent to leave the conference. That deadline is Tuesday, Aug. 15. Florida State has been the most vocal about their uncertainty of the long-term sustainability as a member of the ACC. So if the Big Ten is looking to get to 20 members, the next few days could be wildly entertaining.

If Cal and Stanford are not going to be invited to join the ACC, then the Big Ten could still be the most logical landing spot for the two schools. The Big Ten is already adding USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington in 2024. The additions of Cal and Stanford would not move the needle much more on the football side of things, but there does not seem to be a better landing spot for the two Pac-12 schools than the Big Ten.

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Don’t look now, but Florida State isn’t happy in the ACC

Florida State leaders made it known they aren’t happy with the ACC. Should the Big Ten be keeping an eye on the Noles?

Not that the Big Ten has been linked to having any motives to plant the conference flag in the southeast, but it may be worth watching the continuing developments in the ACC. Florida State has made it clear it is not happy in the ACC, as has been suspected for many years during the last decade-plus of conference realignment. And if ever there was a time for Florida State to make a move elsewhere, now would likely be the time.

But can we really anticipate future conference matchups between Penn State and Florida State? In short, you never know! But no, probably not.

What we know is Florida State’s leadership views the university being in what it refers to as an “existential crisis” as the school sees itself and the rest of the ACC membership in danger of falling farther behind the Big Ten and SEC in conference revenue shares.

To put it simply, Florida State would prefer to remain in the ACC, but it is hoping the conference can improve its revenue sharing and revenue plan moving forward to help keep the school and others in the ACC on par with the perceived competition in the Big Ten and SEC.

Rumors of Florida State’s desire to leave the ACC have gone on for years, but the most recent meeting of the board of trustees shed some more light on the potential to pack up and leave than ever seen before. The problem is Florida State has no exit strategy in place and is approaching a deadline to inform the ACC of any intent to leave.

So, what if Florida State does say they are ready to leave the ACC? Would the Big Ten be an option?

Florida State would likely love nothing more than to be in the SEC, but we certainly should not rule out the mere possibility of the Seminoles being an actual candidate for the Big Ten. Geography means nothing, and the Big Ten already has a tent pole on the east coast, a firm grip on the Midwest, and is expanding to the west coast with at least two new members beginning in 2024. Adding a school in the state of Florida may seem weird, but the Big Ten is about to call Los Angeles home, so how weird is it, really?

If the Big Ten was to add Florida State, hypothetically speaking, shouldn’t someone else come with them? The odds are, yes. But who? Feel free to throw around the North Carolina name if you wish. Some Penn State fans probably wouldn’t be opposed to Pittsburgh or Syracuse, and others probably threw up a little bit in their mouths just thinking about it.

Of course, Notre Dame and Florida State would be a nice pairing, but now we may just be a little too greedy. But then again, isn’t greed what drives conference realignment from all angles?

We probably shouldn’t count on seeing Florida State replacing its ACC flag with a Big Ten one in the coming years, but if I have learned nothing from years of covering and observing conference realignment it is that nothing should ever be considered completely off the table for discussion.

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Big 18 coming? Big Ten reportedly exploring more expansion involving Pac-12 members

Could the Big Ten soon have 20 members? The discussions about the next potential moves are reportedly underway.

With the Pac-12 seemingly on the brink of a catastrophic implosion, the Big Ten could once again be ready to pounce on the right opportunity. Already with USC and UCLA ready to join the Big Ten in 2024, the Big Ten has reportedly started the exploration of potential expansion moves involving up to four additional Pac-12 schools.

According to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, a group of Big Ten presidents have started the exploratory discussions on expansion with a focus on the possibility of adding Oregon and Washington as a primary move, and Cal and Stanford as a secondary move on top of that.  Wetzel does note these discussions are in the early stages and no moves are considered imminent, although things can move rather quickly when it comes to realignment changes, and a lot can happen behind closed doors when nobody is looking.

The Big Ten may be wise to hold off for the moment until seeing where the dust is about to settle with the current Pac-12 membership. Colorado recently announced it will be heading back to the Big 12 in 2024, the same year USC and UCLA join the Big Ten. That will leave the Pac-12 with just nine members. The focus now appears to be on Arizona and Arizona State’s future with Big 12 rumors as hot as they have been. A loss of Arizona or both Arizona schools would be a potential death blow to the Pac-12 once and for all, leaving schools like Oregon, Washington, Cal, and Stanford up for grabs.

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The Pac-12 is also still attempting to secure a media rights package that will keep its remaining members, and potential future members, satisfied with the conference’s long-term vision and security. But it may be difficult selling everyone on the benefits of a package relying so heavily on Apple TV+ streaming subscriptions resulting in $20 million per school at a time when the Big Ten and SEC schools are each pulling in $50 million per year on their respective media rights packages.

If you are Oregon or Washignton and you have to decide between a questionable $20 million media rights deal or a rock solid package like the Big Ten’s, it should be an easy decision.

The move to add USC and UCLA always felt a bit incomplete from the Big Ten’s perspective, so word of potential expansion with more Pac-12 members has never had reason to go away. Adding to the California footprint with Cal and Stanford would certainly be great fits for academics, but there would potentially be more to gain with the additions of Oregon and Washington, which is why those two schools appear to be the higher priority for any possible Big Ten expansion to come.

There are some concerns about the future of a Big Ten with up to 20 teams, of course, and those will certainly be part of the discussions. But there are also ways to go about expansion that makes sense for everybody, especially if the paydays continue to be as rich as they have been.

As is always the case with conference realignment headlines, stay tuned. Things could happen quickly or drag on into the fall and winter months.

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The complete Big Ten membership timeline

A look back at the complete Big Ten expansion and realignment timeline

The Big Ten is one of the oldest and most storied conferences in collegiate athletics and home to some of the nation’s top institutions. And as should be expected for a group that has been around as long as the Big Ten has, it has undergone a number of changes over the year. The conference hasn’t had 10 members on the football field since 1993 and is coming up on adding its 15th and 16th members.

The Big Ten still has most of its original lineup in tact, although one founding member took a brief hiatus from the conference and another is no longer associated with the group.

Here is a look at the full Big Ten membership timeline with a look at where it all started, where it has been, and where things are heading in the future.

Penn State announces NIL merger of Success With Honor and Lions Legacy Club

Happy Valley United is the result of an NIL collective merger at Penn State.

Penn State continues to be evolving in the era of Name, Image, and Likeness. On Thursday, Penn State announced a merger between two core NIL collectives with Success With Honor and the Lions Legacy Club to form the the new group named Happy Valley United NIL.

Success With Honor was originally launched with a focus on benefitting student-athletes in each of Penn State’s 31 sports programs. The Lions Legacy Club was established to focus solely on efforts related to football players. Now, the two groups will work as one with a stronger and, hopefully, more connected outlet for benefitting Penn State’s athletes.

“Both groups have been great supporters of our NIL efforts to date, but this merger was an important step in our ever-changing collegiate athletics landscape,” Penn State athletics director Pat Kraft said in a released statement. “It was imperative for these two powerful collectives to join forces to provide a large breadth of NIL opportunities for student-athletes in all 31 of our sports programs to continue to push us forward.”

According to the release from Penn State, the new collective group will be powered by Blueprint Sports, which is led by Penn State alum Rob Sine. The new group will work to establish advisory boards specifically for football, basketball, and Olympic sports. In addition to accepting donations from fans and alums to benefit specific sports, fans will also be given opportunities to purchase select merchandise and collectibles to also help benefit the NIL initiative.

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Big Ten tops conference revenue for 2022 fiscal year

How much did Penn State get in Big Ten revenue shares for 2022?

Life continues to be good in the Big Ten as schools in the conference can continue to rely on having the nation’s top revenue shares to include in their annual budgets. According to data collected from federal tax records by USA TODAY, the Big Ten generated a total of $845.6 million in revenue, and each of the 11 members receiving a full distribution from the conference received $58.8 million from the conference.

The Big Ten’s full revenue distribution shares are the highest for Power 5 conference schools. Schools in the SEC receive the second-highest revenue shares with $49.9 million per school from the SEC’s $802 million revenue pot. When it comes to revenue numbers, the Big Ten and SEC are well ahead of the other power conferences, with the Big Ten holding a slight edge over the SEC.

Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers did not receive a full revenue distribution share as the newest members of the conference, although their time for full shares will be coming up soon. The Big Ten will also be adding USC and UCLA in 2024 to the conference. How the revenue figures change once Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers are eligible for full distributions and once two more schools are added to the conference remains to be seen, although the Big Ten isn’t exactly hurting for revenue in any scenario in play here.

It is easy to see why schools want to be a part of the Big Ten every year the revenue numbers are reported. For Rutgers, the decision to join a power conference from the American Athletic Conference was an easy one. But Maryland and Nebraska joined from existing power conferences and were clearly upgrading their revenue expectations as a result. In Maryland’s case, joining the Big Ten was the solution to fixing a budget crisis with the athletic department.

USC and UCLA will be joining the Big Ten as the Pac-12 continues to lag behind the conference revenue game. The Pac-12 had the fourth-highest conference revenue in 2022 and is entering tough territory in losing the Trojans and Bruins and still waiting to announce a new media rights deal as it undergoes a restatement of income.

As the Big Ten expects its television viewership to continue to grow annually, so will the revenue numbers. Life is good in the Big Ten.

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UCLA’s move to Big Ten approved by board of regents, but at what cost?

UCLA will have to pay Cal a tax to join the Big Ten in 2024

There was likely no way UCLA’s path to the Big Ten was in any real danger of not being approved, but there were some hurdles along the way to getting the final stamp of approval from the University of California board of regents. Concerns about travel for student-athletes in all of UCLA’s sports was among the primary concerns for the regents, and the impact UCLA’s departure (along with USC) to the Big Ten would have on the stat system’s other Pac-12 school, Cal.

On Wednesday night, the outline for approving UCLA’s official move to the Big Ten in 2024 was put on paper, and it will require UCLA to write a check to the Cal Berkley campus. It is recommended UCLA pay the Berkley campus anywhere between $2 and $10 million, although the exact figure could be revised following the completion of the Pac-12’s next media rights package.

The regents’ outline for UCLA also mandated that UCLA work on addressing concerns regarding travel and risks for student-athletes having to travel to Big Ten destinations as often as they will be required once the Bruins join the conference.

So, with the outlined requirements now set in stone, UCLA can once again move forward with anticipating joining the Big Ten beginning in the summer of 2024. All that is left to figure out now is whether or not the big Ten will attempt any other expansion moves. Additional expansion would likely continue to move west of the standard Big Ten footprint, and that would certainly help address UCLA’s travel concerns for the regents.

And if the Big Ten just added Cal, then all of this would have been a massive waste of time.

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The Big Ten’s new media rights deal is here and it is massive

The Big Ten’s new media rights deal is gigantic.

The Big Ten unveiled the long-awaited details to its brand new media rights package on Thursday, and it is quite a monster. The Big Ten will enter into a new media rights deal with FOX, CBS, and NBC all having an opportunity to showcase Big Ten football beginning in 2023.

The Big Ten revealed the details of its new media rights package that will begin on July 1, 2023 and run through the 2029-2030 seasons. FOX, NBC, and CBS will all get a high-profile timeslot to feature Big Ten football, and the extra options of placing Big Ten games on FS1 and NBC’s streaming platform Peacock on top of the Big Ten Network will potentially extend the visibility of the conference in ways never seen before.

And, of course, the revenue this deal will generate is astounding. The Big Ten’s new deal is valued at $1 billion annually for a grand total rising to $7 billion over the course of the package’s lifespan.

FOX will continue to use its noon eastern timeslot to feature a high-profile game with its Big Noon Kickoff. CBS will lock in a Big Ten game for 3:30 p.m. ET in its traditional college football time slot (the SEC is moving exclusively to ESPN), and NBC will feature a Big Ten game in primetime every Saturday night.

CBS will include seven football games and regular season and postseason men’s basketball. CBS will also air the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinals and final will continue to air on CBS as it has for 25 years. Every CBS Big Ten football and basketball broadcast will be available for streaming on Paramount+ as well.

Beginning in 2024, CBS will televise up to 15 regular season football games from its initial lineup of seven games in 2023.

NBC will broadcast 14 to 16 games each season in the brand new Big Ten Saturday Night. Every NBC broadcast will be available on Peacock as well.

FOX will continue its existing arrangement with the Big Ten to televise football and men’s basketball games.

The Big Ten Championship Game will be shared between the three networks as well, with FOX getting the majority share of broadcasts. FOX will air the Big Ten Championship Game in 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029. CBS will get the game in 2024 and 2028. NBC will air the 2026 championship game.

Giving all three major media partners a chance to showcase the Big Ten is a bold strategy, and having all three networks buy in to selling Big Ten football should bode well for the conference in the next seven years.

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ESPN reportedly walks away from Big Ten as conference nears massive new rights deal

No Big Ten on ESPN? It looks like it could happen according to the latest media rights rumblings

If the Big Ten is going to lose a working relationship with ESPN, it better hope it has support to fall back on. Fortunately, it appears the Big Ten has quite a safety net to fall into after ESPN reportedly opted to back out of the media rights negotiations game.

What once may have felt inconceivable has apparently become a reality. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, via Twitter, ESPN has taken its name out of the Big Ten media rights negotiations. By doing so, the Big Ten will be off ESPN’s air for college football and college basketball for the first time in 40 years.

As reported by Ourand, ESPN turned down a seven-year package worth $380 million per year. That now leaves the door wide open for a new contract that will bring the Big Ten to CBS and NBC, with FOX already on board. What’s more, a formal announcement could come as early as this week as details for the Big Ten’s highly-anticipated new media rights deal settle in.

It is believed CBS will feature a Big Ten game in the 3:30 p.m. ET timeslot currently used to feature the SEC Game of the Week. But with the SEC contract moving to ESPN, CBS could replace the SEC with the Big Ten in the same high-profile slot.

NBC is expected to get primetime with the Big Ten and some exclusive rights for streaming its Peacock streaming platform. All games airing on NBC will also be streamed on Peacock as well, it is safe to assume.

So, how much is at stake?

According to a report from New York Post, CBS is set to pay $350 million per year for its part of the contract. And NBC, according to Sports Business Journal, will pay another $350 million per year for its portion.

That’s a cool $700 million per year on top of whatever FOX will be paying for its rights in the noon timeslot, as well as additional airtime on FS1 and its partnership with the Big Ten Network.

And we haven’t even talked about the competition for the streaming package options. Apple and Amazon are discussing streaming rights with the Big Ten, and the competition has spiked since the news that USC and UCLA will be joining the Big Ten in 2024 as Apple came back to the table as a potential suitor.

There could still be a lot to unpack with this new media rights deal, and the negotiations could still involve ESPN before the ink dries on the new contracts. But regardless of where this all goes from here, the Big Ten is going to be swimming in an ocean of cash.

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Report: Big Ten cooling on potential expansion

A focus on media rights may have led to the Big Ten cooling on any additional expansion.

Big Ten media days have come and gone and there appears to be no significant traction made on making any additional expansion moves beyond the upcoming additions of USC and UCLA. And according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, the Big Ten has seemingly moved away from the idea of adding more members from the Pac-12.

Instead, the Big Ten’s focus is now squarely on its next media rights deal, with an announcement possibly coming any week now. The Big Ten’s new media deal is expected to be massive with reports suggesting the conference will be raking in $1.25 billion. The expansion to the west coast to secure the Los Angeles market is a big reason why.

As told by Dodd, it appears the thought of additional expansion was a deterring factor as the ongoing media rights negotiations continued.

After the anxiety caused last week regarding further Big Ten expansion, industry sources have indicated the Big Ten is no longer as interested in adding California, Oregon, Stanford and Washington. Rightsholders were balking at paying the same amount for those schools as the 16 Big Ten schools going forward ($80 million-$100 million).

This is not to suggest Big Ten expansion won’t pick up quickly again if the right variable enters the mix. That would be Notre Dame. Notre Dame is still exploring its own options for its football future, but if the school decides membership in the Big Ten is right for them, then the Big Ten will quickly welcome the Irish to the mix. And if that happens, the Big Ten could rush to add at least one other member.

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