Oklahoma and Texas took another step forward in their presumptive move to the SEC on Tuesday by submitting formal requests to join the conference in 2025. The move signals that sweeping change across college sports is on the way, especially for the top leagues around the country.
The Pac-12 figures to be on of the major conferences impacted by the decisions of Texas and Oklahoma. New commissioner George Kliavkoff is already busy at work trying to find a way to spin the move into a positive outcome for his league.
During Pac-12 Media Days on Tuesday, the Pac-12 commissioner, who replaced Larry Scott this offseason, gave a strange justification as to why Texas and Oklahoma’s move to the SEC benefits his league.
“We believe the move by Texas and Oklahoma strengthens our unique position as the only Power 5 conference with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones,” Kliavkoff said, per Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated.
Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff: "We believe the move by Texas and Oklahoma strengthens our unique position as the only Power 5 conference with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones."
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 27, 2021
Kliavkoff’s comment is a head-scratcher, plain and simple. The Pac-12 has held those two time zones for quite some time, but it hasn’t led to mainstream success for the conference by any measure. Oklahoma and Texas moving to the SEC won’t change anything about the Pac-12’s supposed grip on the western part of the country.
Maybe he was being facetious, maybe not. Either way, it’s quite the way for him to make his major media debut ahead of the 2021 season.
The Pac-12 commissioner pivoted soon after the bizarre remark to share that his conference was also open to considering expansion in the wake of the recent news.
“We do not believe expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive,” but “the fallout gives us an opportunity to consider expansion” and “we’ve already had significant inbound interest from many schools,” Kliavkoff shared, per Stewart Mandel.
Kliavkoff: "We do not believe expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive," BUT "the fallout gives us an opportunity to consider expansion" and "we've already had significant inbound interest from many schools."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) July 27, 2021
Kliavkoff is right about one thing: the decision of Oklahoma and Texas to move to the SEC will lead to change in college athletics. It’s difficult to see the immediate ramifications of the realignment, but by no means will it be a guaranteed positive for the Pac-12.
In fact, it very well could end up meaning the opposite.