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Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Pac-12 Media Days Evolve Into a Cocktail Party at the Bellagio

  • The two-team conference is hosting a unique football media day in Las Vegas.
  • After the Big 12 concludes its mega-event, the Pac-12 will do something different.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12’s expansion to 16 teams is one of the biggest reasons why the Pac-12 is becoming a two-team conference. 

It was Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark’s cutthroat strategy around beating the Pac-12 to new media-rights deals with ESPN and Fox that led to last summer’s eight-team exodus from the 109-year-old league, including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah joining the Big 12.

But despite the turmoil, if there’s any remaining tension between the two, Pac-12 leaders are biting their tongues.

What Happens in Vegas …

After the Big 12 wraps up its first supersized football media days of this new era at Allegiant Stadium on Wednesday, the Pac-12, which is not changing its name for now, will host a small season-preview gathering at a ballroom a few miles up the Las Vegas Strip. 

Dubbed “After Hours with the Beavs & Cougs” at the Bellagio, representatives from Washington State and Oregon State, as well as Pac-12 commissioner Teresa Gould, will try to make their case for future potential as the conference tries to rebuild. Instead of the typical grand stages and lengthy pressers, the Pac-12 will be hosting a casual cocktail party Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. PT for reporters interested in the conference’s next steps.

It’s the latest unconventional move for the Pac-12, following a set of patchwork deals to piece together a viable sports schedule over the next two years. Oregon State and Washington State have a football scheduling alliance with the Mountain West Conference, and a media-rights deal with The CW and Fox Sports. Most other sports will compete temporarily as affiliate members of the West Coast Conference.

Bowl Season Shuffle

The “zombie Pac-12” will live on in another way over the next two years, too. The 10 schools leaving the conference will still play in Pac-12 affiliated bowl games until those contracts expire after the 2025 college football season, according to The Action Network

In 2026, there is expected to be a major reshuffling of bowl game affiliations in the aftermath of widespread conference realignment. On Tuesday, Yormark said he was confident that one game the Big 12 would end up being associated with is the Las Vegas Bowl, which in recent years has seen a Pac-12 school play one from the Big Ten or SEC. “We need to be here in Vegas,” he said.

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