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Pac-12, Big Ten call off football scheduling alliance

Published July 31, 2012 12:54 pm

College football • Trying to schedule non-league games for 24 teams proves "too difficult."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten on Friday called off their plans for a football scheduling agreement that would pair teams from the two conferences in non-league matchups every year.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten counterpart Jim Delany issued a joint statement Friday morning that the alliance fell apart basically because "the complications associated with coordinating a non-conference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult," Delany said.

In December, the Pac-12 and Big Ten announced their football teams would play a series of nonconference games against each other beginning in 2017, further cementing links between two leagues that have had a longstanding partnership with the Rose Bowl. The plan called for increased matchups in all sports between the conferences, including the possibility of a formal basketball event, similar to the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

But Scott, whose conference already plays nine league games per year, found the scheduling arrangement with the Big Ten too constricting for Pac-12 schools.

Said Scott: "While we continue to value our close relationship, particularly our partnership in the Rose Bowl, the Pac-12 came to the conclusion that it's in our best interests to maintain our nine-game conference schedule and maximum flexibility in out-of-conference scheduling."

Utah announced earlier this month that it had agreed to play Big Ten powerhouse Michigan in a home-and-home series during the 2014-2015 seasons — a two-game series that led Utah to drop rival BYU from its nonconference schedule in those years. Utah athletic director Chris Hill insisted earlier this week it would be a priority to schedule BYU in future years, although the annual presence of a Big Ten team raised questions of how that would be possible.

Throughout the week, Hill hinted that the deal might not come to fruition, saying it was "not something that's locked in stone."

"The devil in the details is will that happen?" Hill told The Tribune on Wednesday. "And how will that happen? And does everybody want to do that? There's not any kind of formal decision on that — there's no guarantee we have those games on our schedule."

The scheduling flexibility the change gives Utah does not guarantee that the Utes will play BYU annually in football, but does increase the opportunities for the game.

Hill was out of town Friday but released a statement, saying, "With our intensely competitive nine-game conference schedule, this will allow us to maintain flexibility in our non-conference scheduling. We look forward to continuing our historic partnership with the Big Ten in the future, including our scheduled football home-and-home series with Michigan in 2014 and 2015."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @oramb