The Pac-12's continuing push into the media business with an upcoming conference network and digital platform will have a lasting effect on member schools' football schedules. According to the league's updated executive regulations, non-conference neutral site football games will no longer be permitted unless the conference gets their cut of the media rights:
No member institution shall enter into an agreement to play a neutral-site football game (except in circumstances where such neutral-site game is the away leg of a home-and-home series) unless such agreement provides the Conference with the exclusive broadcast rights and digital rights in all media, and copyright to such neutral-site game.The move would essentially prohibit schools from scheduling games like last season's LSU-Oregon matchup at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. Cases such as the upcoming USC-Syracuse game on September 8, 2012 at Met Life Stadium would be permissible because they are the Pac-12 team's away game in a home-and-home series while matchups like the UCLA-Texas game in 2014 would no longer be allowed unless the Longhorns agreed to come to Los Angeles.
Commissioner Larry Scott, whose contract was recently extended, has strived to keep a significant and meaningful portion of inventory for the Pac-12 Network in order to drive distribution with cable and satellite operators. The Pac-12 recently announced a scheduling agreement with the Big Ten that would strengthen the bond between the two leagues but would take away one non-conference game away from members. The combination of moves over the past two years appear to give the conference office a greater element of control over schools' schedules going forward.
USC-Alabama? Oklahoma-Oregon? With the Pac-12's new restrictions, it appears any chance such games happening as big neutral site games are no longer an option unless teams agree to come West.
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