ACC, Pac-12 Discuss ‘Loose Collaboration’ Including ‘Championship Game’ in Las Vegas

The ACC and Pac-12 have discussed a so-called “loose partnership” that could end the season with the conferences playing a “championship game” in Las Vegas, sources confirm to CBS Sports.

The concept, believed to have been proposed by the ACC, is seen as a way for the conferences’ common rights holder, ESPN, to increase the value of their current media rights contracts.

This proposal is unlikely to have much of an impact, as ESPN has cost certainty with the ACC in a contract that runs through 2036. The Pac-12 is trying to survive after USC and UCLA lose to the Big Ten in 2024. Rights for Pac-12 teams without the California powers are now worth about $30 million a year, compared to about $42 million per program with the Trojans and Bruins in the fold.

John Canzano first reported that the Pac-12 discussed a “loose partnership” with another conference on Tuesday afternoon, noting that a number of regular-season crossover games may be played in addition to the “championship game.”

Sources indicate that the proposal is seen as a “force in numbers”. While the 24 combined ACC and Pac-12 teams would not have nearly the clout of the 32 programs combined in the SEC and Big Ten, it would something to close the growing financial gap between those fast-growing super conferences and everyone else.

With the Big 12 and Pac-12 on the move, ACC schools are increasingly aware of a media rights gap that could be in the neighborhood of $50 million a year compared to the SEC and Big Ten.

There is widespread speculation that a combination of Clemson, the state of Florida and Miami could be appropriate if the SEC chooses to expand again.

The big 12 is considering adding up to six Pac-12 schools to bolster itself, CBS Sports reported Tuesday. Arizona, the state of Arizona, Colorado and Utah are the main teams to be targeted, while Oregon and Washington are also being considered.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 just tries to stay viable. On Tuesday, the league announced it would go to market early to negotiate the rights for the 10 remaining teams. The Pac-12’s current contract with ESPN and Fox expires in 2024, although Fox is not expected to be interested in Pac-12 rights going forward.

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