ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03: Fans cheer before a game against the Oregon Ducks and the LSU Tigers at Cowboys Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Pac-12 wants to get involved more heavily in the college arms race and get on an equal playing field with the other big conferences. They've got the TV deal for it, but now they also need the big-time opponents to justify that deal.
There's a reason why the Big Ten/Pac-12 agreement was such a priority. Besides the desire to collaborate between both conferences and create a beneficial relationship between East and West, it would also ensure the crucial population centers in the East are more inclined to want to subscribe to the Pac-12 network, which would ensure long-term stability of the network and augment the conference's overall strength. One game featuring a Michigan or Ohio State on the Network every year or so could go a long way to ensuring maximum subscriptions on satellite and cable carriers.
However, I doubt the Pac-12 wants to wait five years to see its football teams get into it with their Rose Bowl partners, particularly with teams that have holes to fill in their schedules. They're ready to fill in gaps in scheduling as quickly as they can. It wouldn't be surprising at all if they cajoled the Oregon Ducks into matchups like this one to set the standard for the Pac-12 to follow.
The Ducks and Spartans are expected to face off for nonconference games in 2014 and 2015, getting a head start on a series of matchups between Pac-12 and Big Ten teams to begin in 2017. Oregon’s home-and-home series with the Spartans, and the annual nonconference game against a Big Ten team, will provide big-name flavor to a UO nonconference slate that was otherwise mostly devoid of such matchups for the next few seasons.
Oregon's home non-conference schedule was a bit embarrassing the last two seasons, and the Ducks (particularly Chip Kelly) have yearned for stronger head-to-head matchups at Autzen. It seems as if they'll be filling their schedule with more Big Ten games down the line, as will many of the remaining Pac-12 schools. Playing quality OOC competition in the regular season will ensure that all sides will be playing the best games against the best teams more often than not, minimizing the likelihood of games like Oregon-Tennessee Tech (a real football game being played this year, sadly enough).
On a smaller scale, matchups like Arizona scheduling Michigan in basketball will also improve their standing in the college hoops world too. With regards to Pac-12 basketball, the school needs quality OOC games, and with this deal with a major conference in place, you figure this will be the start of at least one or two clashes by each team to match up with the best the Midwest has to offer. The Big Ten is rated the top conference in the country this season and put four teams into the Sweet 16.
The Big Ten/Pac-12 deal offers opportunity everywhere for both conferences, and it seems both sides are ready to take advantages of those new gateways.