Comesh says Oregon, Washington State has “contained interest” in joining the Big Ten
Adam RittenbergSenior writer for ESPN3 minutes to read
ROSEMONT, Illinois — The “internal interest” in Oregon and Washington State in joining the Big Ten in the wake of Colorado’s departure from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 largely prompted the Big Ten to consider adding both schools last month, league commissioner Tony Pettitti said. ESPN said.
The Big Ten is focused on integrating new members USC and UCLA in 2024 and has not considered further expansion as of late July. But Pettitti said Colorado’s departure to the Big 12 on July 27, before Pac-12 schools saw a proposal for live-based media rights, changed the landscape.
The Big Ten voted unanimously on August 4 to add Oregon and Washington.
“Oregon and Washington had a real intent; they’ve been working hard to make it an option for them,” Pettitti said in his first comprehensive comments about the expansion additions. “They really wanted to be in the Big Ten. We felt that throughout the whole process.”
Oregon and Washington will join the Big Ten in 2024 but won’t get full media rights shares after that, which USC and UCLA will. Both are set to earn between $30 million and $35 million annually, according to the sources, a stake that will increase by $1 million during the Big Ten’s media contract with Fox, NBC and CBS, which runs through the 2029-30 sports season.
Pettitti said the current Big Ten members had “initially receptive” about adding Oregon and Washington but wanted to see how scheduling, financing and other issues would be resolved. Scheduling benefits to USC and UCLA in having two other West Coast members factored into the Big Ten decision.
“We all felt that whatever side we looked at made us better,” Pettitti said. “It just became a process of trying to figure out how to do it. My job is to make sure the conference is going to be as great in the future as it is today. There are opportunities to protect that and make sure we get better.”
Pettitti said the Big Ten is not looking to expand beyond 18 members at this time. The league is focusing on its football schedule for 2024 and 2025, which will maintain the principles of the “Flex Protect Plus” model announced in June. Oregon and Washington will be played annually as the league’s 12th Reserve game, Chief Operating Officer Kerry Kinney told ESPN, and other Reserve games are possible.
The Big Ten are “days, if not weeks” away from announcing the domestic competitors for the 2024 schedule, after which they will finalize the exact dates. The league will remove divisions after the 2023 season and will play the top two teams in the championship game.
Kenny said the Big Ten’s priorities in its schedule are maximizing opportunities to reach the college football expansion playoffs, having every team play every other team as often as possible, and balancing geography with travel and competitive trends.
“We’re making sure there are no outliers in terms of either the hardest schedule or the easiest schedule for any of our teams, and we’re working out how to balance the competitive levels,” Kenny said. “You’ll see a lot of what people seem to like with Flex Protect Plus. We’re going through different options of what that could look like to see how we balance not only the travel element in our Eastern and Central time zone schools but also how frequent how we get everyone to play in those schools Arbaa (West Coast).”
Pettitti agreed with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey that the CFP format should be evaluated after the substantial realignment that occurred over the summer. The original 12-team format called for the six highest-rated conference champions and six overall spots.
“Those circumstances are different,” Pettitti said. “It’s our job to make sure everything that’s built makes sense. I will say that (my) No. 1 goal is to get there. Something as big and important as a college football game, as big and powerful as the Big Ten, my focus is giving as many teams the opportunity in a given season, when they deserve it. to compete for the national championship.
The CFP Management Committee will then meet on September 25 in the Big Ten offices. Pettitti said he did not know a timeline for when the format would be finished, but said there was “a calendar that gives you a sense of when you have to make decisions because in the end, we’re going to play games.”