Well, you have to give former UCLA Football coach Rick Neuheisel some credit: He thinks outside the box.
This morning on his SiriusXM radio show, he started off talking about the possibility of Colorado moving back to the Big 12. But, then, I was left wondering if maybe Coach Neuheisel hadn’t moved back to Colorado himself because it seemed like he was smoking something when he suggested that UCLA should be interested in talking with the Big 12 about possibly joining that conference.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see UCLA say, "You know what? This deal with this USC thing? We’re gonna go and be our own guy, rather than always tied to the school here in Los Angeles." It wouldn’t shock me at all. I don’t have any inside information. I’m just saying from outside looking in.
UCLA just left Adidas for cash. They went to Under Armour. Right? If there were a reason to do it...If all of a sudden...and you take Los Angeles and put it into the Big 12 market where Texas and football are king, it would have a huge impact.
Is it an interesting idea? Yea, sure. It would be a game-changer on the college sports landscape. Is UCLA about to start talking with the Big 12? Very unlikely.
Now, that said, if UCLA were to move to another conference, what would be different?
Well, for starters, there might be an immediate increase in TV money. "But what about Pac-12 Networks?" you ask. Both UCLA and USC have taken a financial hit due to the creation of the Pac-12 Networks.
The inability of Pac-12 Networks to secure a distribution deal with DirecTV almost a full year since AT&T, a conference partner, assumed control of the satellite giant is a telling story.
Last year, in the wake of the announcement of AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV, everyone thought the conference would make an announcement at the Pac-12 Football Media Days that they had secured a carriage agreement. Yet, a year has passed and the biggest news about Pac-12 Networks at Media Days last week was that Twitter has signed on as a distribution partner. Let’s just hope you like watching your sports 140 characters at a time.
One of the biggest assumptions everyone seems to make regarding the finances of the UCLA Athletic Department is that the department should be flush with cash because of the Pac-12 Networks creation and that’s just not the case.
If you pull UCLA (or USC, for that matter) out of that equation, the value of the Pac-12 Networks plummets and the conference would be lucky to sell it for pennies on the dollar.
However, if UCLA, USC, or both decided to pull up stakes for the Big 12 with a Longhorn Network-type of deal in place as an incentive to join the Big 12, that would be a real game-changer. The TV money which had been promised might actually appear.
But, what’s the real likelihood that UCLA (or USC) would leave the Pac-12 without the other one following suit? Slim to none.
If the Big 12 is going to go after the Los Angeles market, it’s in their best interest to go after both LA schools not just one. Why would they ever consider leaving half of the market there for another conference?
It just doesn’t make sense financially.
So, if UCLA or USC were to discuss joining the Big 12, the other school is likely going to join them in an effort to finally get the financial windfall that the Pac-12 Networks promised but has not yet delivered on.