Big Ten, Pac-12 announce partnership

Beginning in 2017 the Big Ten and Pac-12 will have one non-conference football game against each other

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced a Wednesday a long-term interconference scheduling collaboration that will bring together all sports, from football, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports.

Boil it down, the conferences are going to play each other. In football, it'll likely be a home-and-home between a Big Ten and Pac-12 school. In men's basketball, the conferences are likely looking at something similar to the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

"We started to talk about what are some of the relationships we have that we might able to build on," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Wednesday. "Should we play football more often?"

The answer is yes. The details haven't been hammered out, but beginning in 2017 the Big Ten and Pac-12 will have one non-conference football game against each other.

Within the last year, the Big Ten announced it planned to go to a nine-game conference schedule in 2017. Instead, it looks as though that ninth game will be against a Pac-12 school.

"We agreed as athletics directors that we would be willing to step back to eight, if then a regular matchup with the Big Ten and Pac-12 would sort of take its place," Barta said. "That's the intention, every year Big Ten and Pac-12. It's great for fans, student-athletes and great for both conferences."

Locally, you're probably wondering how this will affect the Iowa-Iowa State series beginning in 2017.

Barta said the Iowa State topic had been covered with the the Big Ten when the league discussed nine conference games in 2017.

"I've said the same thing to the conference [in regards to the Pac-12 agreement], and so far, it looks like there is a way we can work this out to continue that series and that's my goal," Barta said. He added that the same plan will be in place when the Big Ten goes back eight and adds the Pac-12.

Still, it's 2011. By 2017, who knows what the college football landscape will look like?

"If you quote me by saying it's 100 percent and then by 2015 something changes," Barta said. "Right now, it's my intention to keep playing. I've made my thoughts known to the Big Ten and they've been able to accommodate it so far in their planning so far and in addition to the announcement today, it's still intact."

Barta said he wants seven home football games for Iowa. "It's the way we put our budget together," Barta said.

This could affect scheduled games with Northern Iowa, which is on Iowa's schedule for 2012, 2014 and 2018.

The Pac-12 deal has been in Barta's thoughts as far as a potential "Big 4" basketball weekend that would include Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake. Iowa basketball will now fit in a Pac-12 game along with the ACC Challenge and the jump from 16 to 18 Big Ten basketball games.

Basically, this is the Big Ten and Pac-12 answer to the ever-expanding expansion talks in college football. This will likely bump revenue for the Big Ten Network and the Pac-12 Network.

Here are some updates from an afternoon teleconference with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Smith.

-- This agreement is indefinite. It's not a 10-year deal, it's for good.

-- How would matchups work for football? Too early to know for sure, but competitive balance will be the goal.

"We'd like competitive equity to play a significant part," Delany said.

-- The plan is to play the 12 Big Ten/Pac-12 football games over the first three weeks of the season.

-- The Big Ten approached the Pac-12 about this "collaboration." The Pac-12 was receptive because it wants to develop its national footing without having to expand. The conference had extensive discussions with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech since expansion started two years ago.

-- This could give Big Ten schools outs for non-conference matchups they don't like. Iowa and Iowa State have a clause in the game contract that says the rivalry could be suspended if the school's conferences added a ninth game. Big Ten schools who don't like their arrangement with Notre Dame now have an out to break the contract.

-- Right now there are no plans to brand the football games, but it still could happen. "Whether it's branded or not," Delany said, "people will count."

-- Yes, this will create the possibility that the Rose Bowl could be a rematch. "Obviously, it's a possibility," Smith said. "You can't perfectly choreograph matchups. We have to be smart and equitable, knowing you're setting the dates in advance and the caliber of schools changes from year to year."

-- "In an overall, holistic way, we think it will help our football programs, we think it'll engage our fans, we think it'll help our recruitment, we think it'll help the presentation of television," Delany said.

Delany also said he doesn't like the "bye" mentality that has gone into a lot of the thinking into scheduling the 12th game.

"Too often it was a bye game for many schools in our conference," he said. "It was a game that was not as compelling, maybe, as we would like.

I think this is pro-fan, for the fan. I think it's for the player and I think it's for recruitment. Clearly for coaches, if they're used to having four games that look like four home games and four likely wins, it will make it more challenging."

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