On a conference call Wednesday afternoon, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany explained more details of the two conferences' new and possibly seismic partnership that Delany termed an "indefinite collaboration."
The most important details to trickle out concerned the inter-conference football games the two 12-team conferences will set up for 2017 and beyond; that the conferences will wait until then to begin this partnership is partly because they will make their best efforts to honor existing non-conference game contracts. Scott indicated that there will be 12 Pac-12 vs. Big Ten games, but spread over three weeks instead of concentrated on one, and that the match-ups for those games are yet to be determined. Delany added that "competitive equity" will play a part in determining those match-ups, likely a hint that there will theoretically be games between Oregon and Ohio State, for example, and not USC and Indiana. Delany explained that neutral sites in the footprints of both conferences could host games under this arrangement.
And then there is the matter of potential new televised content for the two conferences to reap windfalls from, such as bowl games or non-football sports. Scott hinted at this partnership extending well beyond just a series of regular season games, including to academics. But when asked if the two conferences were going to merge, the answer Delany gave was no, and Scott emphasized that there are ways to create and enhance a national platform without expansion.
Scott's thesis is that this partnership is about creating high-quality content via an arrangement that is "comprehensive and flexible" and extends well beyond just the splash of 12 new football games per year; that's how commissioners start talking about baseball festivals and multi-sport events, and why Scott says that the Olympic sports and women's sports — ones that are usually not revenue-producing sports —will be the big winners under this arrangement.