The only remaining question: does SDSU choose to join the BIG 12 if the Pac-12 remains in a state of perpetual stalemate?
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff’s image has taken a hit. In essence, Frank Sinatra looks more like Frank Drebin.
San Diego, CA – San Diego State University Athletic Director J.D. Wicker reconfirmed that the SDSU Aztecs is exiting the Mountain West Conference and entering either the BIG 12 or the Pac-12.
This past weekend Wicker told Seth Davis, Senior Writer for The Athletic “One or the other (B12 or P12) is going to happen. We’re excited for the opportunity, and we’ve done a lot of work to prepare for that.”
SDSU’s preference has been joining the Pac-12. Yet, a big question mark looms over Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff’s handle on conference stewardship. The former MGM Resorts International President of Entertainment and Sports’s first year was marked with talk of revolutionizing viewership. “My goal in distribution is to be able to allow fans, alumni and parents to be able to watch all of our games on any piece of glass connected to the internet.”
His vision was exciting and innovative.
Shortly after glowing first year reviews, and while on vacation out of cellular range, USC and UCLA made the stunning announcement that they had joined the B1G Conference. Kliavkoff might not have known for days.
The timing was icy and calculated. Some wondered if the Los Angeles universities even had sabotage in mind.
Shortly after “LAxit,” BIG 12 commissioner Brett Yormark attacked next from another angle, aggressively undermining the Pac-12 with an ESPN media deal leading to “rapid unplanned disassembly” of Kliavkoff’s plans. Yormark ate Kliavkoff’s lunch and didn’t stop there. He then proceeded to wine and dine the Pac-12 Four Corners schools (ASU, UofA, Utah and Colorado) while prognosticating a Conference of Champions collapse. Meanwhile, the B1G Conference opened dialogue with Washington and Oregon, amid rumors that Cal and Stanford were also targets.
Kliavkoff wrestled to maintain solidarity with the Pac-12’s remaining ten universities, successfully. He found solidarity with a caveat to close a media deal by the end of March- and to match or beat the BIG 12’s dollars. As April arrived, a deal once again did not yet emerge. The oft reported “A media deal will be finalized in the next two weeks” is now a running joke.
By declaring that conference expansion would not occur until a media deal was inked, Pac-12’s key expansion candidates have been clearly defined yet remain on the outside looking in. They are visible, available, and of interest to multiple conferences.
SDSU fans, faculty, conference leadership and alumni have cited frustration with the Pac-12’s insistence on closing a media deal, while failing to close that deal, as a prerequisite to an invitation. Kliavkoff’s image has taken a hit. In essence, Frank Sinatra is looking more like Frank Drebin.
Kliavkoff also missed a great chance to announce the Pac-12’s addition of SDSU after the Aztecs mens’ basketball team appeared in the NCAA Championship. It would have been a tour de force.
In the disarray, Brett Yormark has re-invigorated the opportunity for SDSU to join the BIG 12. Yormark’s conference positioned itself perfectly as a Pac-12 BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).
The BIG 12 is more stable than the Pac-12, and increasingly presents a bigger sports realm for the Aztecs to compete in, and the Aztecs would find themselves once again aligned with former conference mates like BYU and TCU, as well as new universities like Kansas.
J.D. Wicker might not sit idly with SDSU a perpetual “program-in-waiting.” Kliavkoff and the Pac-12 should consider waiting a risky gamble lest Yormark and the BIG 12 becomes SDSU’s answer.
Frank Drebin once said, “The truth hurts. Not as much as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing, but it hurts.” If Kliavkoff fails to act, it’s certain Yormark will capitalize and deal another blow to the Pac-12.
Either way, the Aztec Nation commences into a new Power 5 era.