College football realignment: Phil Knight ‘working the phones’ to find Oregon a new home
The latest phase of college football realignment took a sledgehammer to the old Pac-12 with USC and UCLA announcing a move to the Big Ten in 2024.
And while the rumor mill has been buzzing about the future of Oregon, so far that school has stayed put as one of the landmark programs in the Pac-12.
But it won’t stay that way if Oregon mega-donor and Nike co-founder Phil Knight has anything to do with it.
“Desperation” for Oregon to move
Knight has been “working the phones” cold-calling decision-makers in other conferences to see if they’re interested in adding Oregon, according to CBS Sports.
“The true impact of this latest round of conference realignment is the image of one of the world’s most powerful sports figures ‘working the phones.’ That’s how one source this week described Phil Knight’s level of desperation,” the report noted.
That “desperation” seems to be the theme among those schools not in the Big Ten or SEC as college football consolidates into what appears to be a two-conference sport.
Which leaves Oregon in the lurch, looking at a future in a conference with no real chance at the College Football Playoff — whose selectors have repeatedly shown they don’t respect the Pac-12 schedule — and far less media revenue than its competitors.
Knight, a long-time benefactor whose total donations to the university exceed $1 billion, clearly wants Oregon to not be left behind in the latest wave of realignment.
What’s next for the Ducks?
Reports conflict on what Oregon’s future looks like.
Early rumors connected the school to the Big Ten, potentially in a package deal with Washington and Stanford, but now it appears the conference considers Notre Dame as the only remaining school worth going after.
There has also been talk that the Pac-12 and Big 12 could merge.
Back after Texas and OU announced their intent to leave, then-Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby proposed his league unite with the Pac-12.
That idea was shot down at the time by the Pac-12, which thought it had USC and UCLA in its future plans. Now that those blue-chip properties are on the move, the Pac-12 might be more open to a merger.
Unless another recent report is true, which contends the Big 12 might be planning a Big Ten-style raid on the Pac-12 and just take the pieces it wants.
Which would include Oregon, along with Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah, a move that could offset the revenue lost by Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC.
Whatever happens, one thing is sure: thanks to realignment, college football will look a lot different than it has in recent memory.
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