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Pac 12, Big 10 Enter Into A Sports Alliance

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Starting next year, the Pac 12 and Big Ten will begin to feature games between all 24 teams in the two leagues in every sport -- including football.

The cooperative agreement is a way for the leagues to derive some of the benefits from expansion without actually having to do the heavy lifting.

The contests will probably begin with men's and women's basketball as soon as the 2012-13 season and eventually expand to include football by 2017.

The "collaborative effort'' as it is called by the two leagues, will enhance the non-conferences schedules of the teams,(while also helping their strength of schedule ratings) as well as create more opportunities to expand the conference's brands both regionally and nationally.

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Starting in 2017, each team from the Pac-12 and the Big Ten will play a team from the other conference in football each season.

The cross-pollination of the two leagues will allow both to reach into untapped markets for media an recruiting purposes. It will also open up a floodgate of content for the Big Ten Network and the brand new Pac-12 Network.

The five-year old Big Ten Network is already supplying almost half of all media dollars being paid out to league members, and the Pac 12 is putting together its own national and regional conference television networks, in addition to starting its new $3 billion television deal with ESPN and Fox.

The initial thought is that the football games would all be played in the first 3 or 4 weeks of the season. Basketball may see multiple games at one site, such as the Staples Center or other NBA facilities.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the concept grew out of a desire from the two leagues to broaden their appeal, without actually taking in any more teams.

"When we looked at models for 14 or 16 teams we couldn't see how we weren't diluted," Delany said.

"But we continued to look at ways to make ourselves more interesting, increase our reach, make ourselves more national."

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The Notre Dame Factor

The two league apparently are going to make sure they take care of both leagues #1 non-conference opponent -- Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish have long standing rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue in the Big Ten as well as Stanford and USC in the Pac 12.

Both leagues have indicated that when their annual football alliance kicks in by 2017, their conference schedules will be 8 games a year, leaving plenty of room for Notre Dame.

It is also expected that by then the BCS will have eliminated automatic qualifier status for conferences, which may also be another factor in slowing down or stopping any more realignment moves.