The World of College Football, in general, is an extremely turbulent time. Conference realignment has become the new big thing. At the FCS level, some conference moves are made because of financial reasons or evening the competition playing field. In FBS, it all boils down to the all-mighty dollar. Media Rights deals rule the decisions made by conference commissioners, university presidents, university AD's, and athletic boosters.
B1G accepts Oregon and Washington as the 17th and 18th members of the Conference
Today the B1G approved Oregon and Washington Universities for entry to the B1G Conference and both Oregon and Washington responded by informing the PAC-12 that they were moving on to the B1G. The move will take affect on August 1, 2024 joining former PAC-12 members USC and UCLA.
Also in another realignment move the BIG XII approved Arizona State and Utah for entry in their conference. Leaving the PAC-12 with the looming acceptance of a failing entity (that story later).
With the announcement by B1G officials Oregon President Karl Scholz said, "I'm thrilled that the University of Oregon has the opportunity to join the nation's preeminent academic-athletic conference" UO President Karl Scholz went on to say, "Our student-athletes will participate at the highest level of collegiate athletic competition, and our alumni, friends and fans will be able to carry the spirit of Oregon across the country." in a press conference shortly after the decision was made.
Washington President Ana Mari Cauce made comment as well, "The Big Ten is a thriving conference with strong athletic and academic traditions, and we are excited and confident about competing at the highest level on a national stage," Cauce said. "My top priority must be to do what is best for our student-athletes and our University, and this move will help ensure a strong future for our athletics program." she went on to say "We are proud of our rich history with the Pac-12 and for more than a year have worked hard to find a viable path that would keep it together. I have tremendous admiration and respect for my Pac-12 colleagues. Ultimately, however, the opportunities and stability offered by the Big Ten are unmatched," Cauce said. "Even with this move, we remain committed to the Apple Cup and to competing with WSU across all of our sports."
Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors Chair and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones released the following. "The Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors are pleased to welcome the University of Oregon and the University of Washington to the Big Ten Conference, "When considering the full spectrum of academic, athletic and research excellence, the alignment with our member institutions is extremely clear. We are excited to welcome them and look forward to collaborating and competing with them in the years ahead."
"Accepting membership into the Big Ten Conference is a transformational opportunity for the University of Oregon to change the short and long-term trajectory of our university and athletics department," said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens. "The stability and exposure of joining the Big Ten is of great benefit to the University of Oregon, and we are grateful to the Big Ten presidents and chancellors for accepting our application to join the conference. We look forward to the opportunity for our student-athletes to compete in this conference, which includes many of the best programs in the nation in every sport."
"We have tremendous respect and gratitude for the Pac-12, its treasured history and traditions. At the same time, the college athletics landscape has changed dramatically in recent years," said Washington Director of Athletics Jennifer Cohen. "The Big Ten’s history of athletic and academic success and long-term stability best positions our teams for future success, and we are energized at the opportunity to compete at the highest level against some of the best programs in the country."
What will the B1G look like in 2024 and beyond
Not much is yet known about how the schedule structure will be comprised for 2024 and beyond. Earlier this year the B1G released their 2024-25 schedules and now they will have to revise the schedules with the addition of Oregon and Washington.
With a now nation wide footprint for the B1G, new opportunities open for member schools.
Earlier this year the B1G elected to eliminate the east and west divisions starting with the 2024 season, which will now allow the number one and two schools to play in the championship game. One questions if the divisional split will now be allowed to continue or if a pod style system will be adopted. There is still a world of unknowns for the future of the B1G, but it has without a doubt became the strongest media market driven conference in the national realm of FBS.
How does Oregon and Washington compare in competitiveness in the B1G
One question I have heard over and over, is why do Oregon and Washington want to leave a conference that they can easily compete for a College Football Playoff birth? My answer to that is this, the two schools compare with the top of the B1G schools very well. With the changes coming to the CFP in 2024 there is a very good chance that Oregon and Washington can qualify for the CFP. The CFP will expand to a 12 team playoff format and bodes well for the top four to six teams in the B1G to qualify for the CFP.
In short both Oregon and Washington will be very competitive in the conference. Some will say that the level of overall competition is much higher in the B1G versus the PAC-12. My answer to that is the simple fact that Oregon and Washington have the same chances of winning in the B1G as they possessed in the PAC-12. They both recruit well and both have quality coaches and staff. I know the there are several that are not very excited for the expansion, but I think within the present scope of the future of college football it is a very interesting and well played move by the B1G to add Oregon and Washington as well as USC and UCLA. Mind you I’m not taking into account the added expenses that schools will have to absorb, I’m looking at it from my fan of college football eyes.
Stay tuned to Redshirt Sports for more updates as the universe of conference realignment continues.