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Pac-12 and Big Ten launch new, deeper alliance

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Plans for the enhanced partnership between the two conferences include a preseason football game annually at the Rose Bowl as well as competition in other sports.

December 28, 2011|By Chris Dufresne
  • Plans for a massive collaboration between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences include a preseason game at the Rose Bowl, possibly as soon as 2013 or 2014, involving schools from each conference.
Plans for a massive collaboration between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

The Pacific 12 and Big Ten conferences, Rose Bowl partners since 1947, have major plans to strengthen their business relationship.

The leagues Wednesday jointly announced a massive collaboration that will increase athletic competition across multiple platforms for all 24 schools.

Plans include a preseason game at the Rose Bowl, possibly as soon as 2013 or 2014, involving schools from each conference.

"The Rose Bowl is interested, both conferences are interested," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "There are no details yet, but it's fair to say you'll see it in some form or faction."

The goal by 2017 is for each Pac-12 school to play a Big Ten school on its nonconference football schedule.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany also said he would be interested in a neutral-site game in the Midwest.

"Who knows," Delany said. "You could have the Rose Bowl one year and Soldier Field the next."

Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field are other possibilities.

The collaboration made sense for Scott and Delany in a world where conference realignment has disrupted the national landscape and uprooted traditional rivalries.

Both commissioners said they were comfortable in their present 12-team configurations and see enhancing the partnership as a way to expand their national brands without having to add new members.

The Big Ten Network, launched in 2007, has been a huge success while the Pac-12 is starting its own network in August.

"We have common interests," Scott said. "We tend to see the world in similar ways. There's a lot of cross-pollination between the two conferences."

The leagues, combined, have more than 17,000 athletes competing on 550 teams. Delany envisions Olympic sports challenge between the conferences and Ryder Cup-style events with the golf programs.

He even suggested a possible academic "Brain Bowl" event.

"The canvass is blank," Delany said.

Heightened nonconference competition in football will probably not help either conference win more national championships in the computer-formula era of the Bowl Championship Series.

Scott and Delany, however, said that was not a concern in developing this sporting relationship.

"If that was only goal, we probably wouldn't do this," Scott said. "Under the current system that's a fair observation. The best way to win the national title is to game the system. We've got broader goals. We think of it more holistically."

There is also a strong possibility that the current BCS system of pairing the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a title game will no longer exist after the current contract expires in two years.

"There is a lot of trust between the two conferences," Delany said. "We believe in a lot of the same stuff. If the only goal in everything you do is getting to the 1-2 game there's going to be a lot of unhappiness."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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