Division I college athletics may be in for another big shakeup. The commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are discussing an alliance to counter the SEC’s planned addition of Texas and Oklahoma in 2025, according to a report Friday by The Athletic (subscription required).
Sources told The Athletic that talks are centered on a football scheduling alliance and possible coordination on College Football Playoff expansion and NCAA governance.
The conferences already have longstanding connections, including the Rose Bowl in football and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in basketball. Stronger scheduling tie-ins could in theory lead to matchups such as Ohio State-Clemson in the college football regular season, or more frequent meetings of hoops bluebloods (e.g., UCLA vs. North Carolina).
They also could nudge back to life historical rivalries that have become dormant because of conference realignment. Take these three, for example:
Duke vs. Maryland
This one is more for the basketball crowd. The rivals have not met in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge — the Terps changed sides in 2014. A stronger interconnection between the conferences ought to put pressure on these sworn enemies to meet once in a while, even if football is the alliance’s primary focus.
Blue Devils-Terps football doesn’t excite, but the schools were together in a conference (Southern, then ACC) for more than 80 years before Maryland broke away. The teams have met 50 times, with the last matchup in 2010.
The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 make up 41 of the 65 schools in the Power 5 (if you include partial ACC member Notre Dame), so an annual game might be difficult if the conferences want all schools to eventually play each other. But even a semi-regular contest would be a blow for tradition.
Penn State vs. Pitt
Pennsylvanians feasted on this Thanksgiving rivalry for decades. The schools have met an even 100 times on the gridiron, but there was a 15-year gap between games from 2001-15. The schools played a four-year series from 2016-19, but that was considered the chapter that closed the book.
There are no expectations of a new volume; Penn State wants maximum flexibility in its nonconference scheduling, so the Panthers are out of the rotation again. Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is hopeful of seeing the teams play again “in my lifetime.” He might be a very senior citizen if that happens, absent a new ACC-Big Ten scheduling pact.
SN’s Mike DeCourcy, who has fond memories of the rivalry dating to his Pittsburgh days, wrote prior to the ’19 game on what killed it.
Nebraska vs. Colorado
The Cornhuskers and Buffaloes go back to 1898, before there was a Big 6, 7, 8 or 12. The series is up to 69 games after a meeting in 2018. The schools are next scheduled to play again in 2024.
Before the Buffs bolted for the then-Pac-10 in 2011, Nebraska-Colorado was played on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The final 10 games were 6-4 in favor of Nebraska.
The rivalry was one-sided before then (Nebraska went 34-4-1 from 1962 to 2000), but the Huskers stopped being a college football power years ago. For that matter, the Buffs’ last good season was in 2016. But the situation could be a lot different by the time the conferences implement scheduling plans. That offers hope that NU-CU could potentially turn into a fun biennial showdown.