ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 alliance to ‘protect the collegiate model’

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Facing a rapidly shifting landscape in college sports, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 have agreed to work together with the goal of creating stability during a volatile time.

Less than a month after the Southeastern Conference made an expansion power play by inviting Texas and Oklahoma to the league, three of the SEC’s Power Five peers countered with the creation of an alliance of 41 schools that span from Miami to Seattle.

During a 45-minute video conference Tuesday, the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 pledged broad collaboration on myriad issues and committed to league members playing more football and basketball games against each other in football and basketball.

They also suggested they wouldn’t be poaching each others schools.

“The history of college athletics, one expansion of a conference has usually led to another to another and to another,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said. “And to the three of us, we felt the stabilization of the current environment, across Division I and FBS – in Power Five in particular – this was a chance for a new direction, a new initiative that I don’t think has ever been done before.”

After weeks of discussions, the alliance is still mostly conceptual and collegial.

“There’s no contract. There’s no signed document,” Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said. “There’s an agreement among three gentlemen and a commitment from 41 presidents and chancellors and 41 athletic directors to do what we say we’re going to do.”

The SEC sent shockwaves through college athletics when it was revealed that Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 to join the nation’s most powerful football conference no later than 2025.

“I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, but to be totally candid you have to evaluate what’s going on in the landscape of college athletics,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said.

As for the Big 12, its future is murky at best as the eight remaining members plot their next moves and try to work out a divorce from the Longhorns and Sooners. The realignment of Texas and Oklahoma could eventually lead the Power Five to shrink to four.

“We want and need the Big 12 to do well,” Phillips said. “The Big 12 matters in college athletics.”

But it will not be part of the alliance.

The alliance is also being formed as the NCAA shakes off a Supreme Court loss and considers handing off more responsibility to conferences and schools to run college sports. The NCAA Board of Governors has called a special constitutional convention in November, the first step toward what could be sweeping reform and a decentralized governance model.

“We did the alliance to protect the collegiate model,” said Kliavkoff, who is only in his second month on the job of leading the Pac-12 after serving as president of sports and entertainment for MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas.

There is also a proposal to expand the College Football Playoff from four to 12 teams currently in the pipeline. The proposal was crafted by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and unveiled publicly in June.

Kliavkoff and Warren both said their conferences support playoff expansion, while Phillips said the ACC had not landed on a final position.

The commissioners and university presidents are scheduled to meet in late September in Chicago to discuss what comes next for the expansion proposal.

“This is not a voting bloc,” Kliavkoff said of the alliance in a brief interview with AP. “We’ve not committed to voting together on anything. We’ve committed to discuss all of these issues, and to try to come up with solutions that are in the best interest of longterm college athletics.

“I’d be surprised if we come to different conclusions with respect to how we think about CFP expansion, but it’s not a voting bloc,” he said.

The scheduling piece could lead to numerous nonconference football games per season and multiple team events in basketball involving ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 teams, potentially creating new and valuable television inventory.

But that could take time to come together, especially in football.

Nonconference football schedules are typically made years in advance and many schools already have mostly full slates in the coming seasons. The commissioners said they did not expect their schools to break contracts to accommodate new agreements within the alliance nor would they prohibit members from scheduling schools from other leagues.

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 tried to make a bold statement by unveiling the alliance, but with no concrete plans in place it will start as a merely a promise to act with mutual interests in mind.

“Hopefully, this will bring some much needed stability in college athletics,” Warren said. “I also think what it will do is allow people to understand where everyone else stands. Some of the events over the last couple of months have shaken the foundations of college athletics.”

No. 2 Michigan beats Purdue 43-22 for Big Ten crown

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS – Donovan Edwards ran for 185 yards and a score, J.J. McCarthy threw three touchdown passes and No. 2 Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 on Saturday night for its second straight Big Ten title and a likely No. 2 playoff seed.

College football’s winningest program has the first 13-win season in school history. Two more victories would give the Wolverines (13-0, No. 2 CFP) their first national championship since 1997.

And with injured star Blake Corum sidelined by a season-ending left knee injury, Edwards stole the show for the second straight week.

After shredding rival Ohio State for 216 yards and two scores last week, Edwards broke open this game with a 60-yard on the first play of the second half to set up one score. He added a 27-yard TD sprint on Michigan’s next series to make it 28-13.

Purdue (8-5) never recovered from Michigan’s quick, seven-play onslaught after it trailed 14-13 at halftime.

But quarterback Aidan O'Connell and receiver Charlie Jones helped the Boilermakers make it interesting for a while.

O’Connell was 32 of 47 with 366 yards and two interceptions after missing some practice time early this week to mourn the death of his oldest brother. Jones, who lost to Michigan in last year’s game while playing for Iowa, had 13 receptions for 162 yards.

It just wasn’t enough.

Michigan showed no signs of a hangover after last week’s rout over the Buckeyes, taking a 7-0 lead on its opening possession with a 25-yard TD pass from J.J. McCarthy to Colston Loveland.

Purdue answered with Devin Mockobee’s 1-yard scoring run to tie the score then took the lead on Mitchell Fineran’s 33-yard field goal.

Michigan answered by taking advantage of an offside call on fourth-and-6 by going for the first down, picking it up and eventually converting the drive into a 7-yard TD pass from McCarthy to Luke Schoonmaker. They never trailed again.

Edwards big run set up Kalel Mullings‘ 1-yard TD plunge before Edwards celebrated his own scoring run.

All Purdue could muster was three more field goals.

McCarthy was 11 of 17 with 161 yards and one interception.

Corum posted a message on Twitter on Saturday morning to say his knee surgery went well.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ magical season ended with a solid showing in the championship game where they played better than most expected. Still, they won the Big Ten’s wild, wild West, both trophy games and should be bound for a warm-weather bowl game.

Michigan: Yes, the Wolverines may have already locked up a top-two seed thanks to losses by Southern Cal and TCU. Michigan now has back-to-back conference crowns for the first time since 2003-04 though the hard part remains – ending its national title drought.

DIALING UP TRICKERY

Brohm played one season in the now defunct XFL and has acknowledged that experience helped him understand how to inject personality and creativity into play calling. It was on full display Saturday.

A surprise end around set up Purdue’s first score, a fake punt helped keep its second scoring drive alive and then Mockobee sprinted 25 yards on a fake flea-flicker in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Will find out its bowl game, destination and opponent Sunday.

Michigan: Waiting to see where its headed and who it will face in the national semifinals.

Klubnik, No. 10 Clemson rout No. 24 UNC 39-10 for ACC title

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Backup quarterback Cade Klubnik completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score and No. 10 Clemson reclaimed the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 39-10 victory over No. 24 North Carolina on Saturday night.

Cornerback Nate Wiggins broke up two passes in the end zone, blocked a field goal and returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown to help the Tigers win their seventh ACC title in eight seasons.

Clemson (11-2, No. 9 CFP) won six straight ACC championships from 2015 to 2020 before failing to reach the title game last season. But coach Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers rebounded in a big way, going 9-0 against ACC foes this season to reach the Orange Bowl.

They have Klubnik to thank for that.

With Clemson down 7-0, Swinney benched two-year starter D.J. Uiagalelei after the Tigers failed to pick up a first down on their first two possessions, Swinney turned to Klubnik, a 5-star recruit from Austin, Texas. He responded by leading the Tigers to four straight scores and a 24-10 lead at halftime.

Clemson stretched it to 39-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t the first time Swinney has turned to Klubnik.

He benched Uiagalelei in the second half against Syracuse and Klubnik responded by leading the Tigers to a come-from-behind 27-21 victory. Swinney also turned to Klubnik against Notre Dame, although the results were the opposite with the freshman throwing a Pick 6 in a 35-14 loss.

Swinney has never been shy about replacing veteran QBs with less experienced players. He did it in 2014, sitting Cole Stoudt for Deshaun Watson, and again in 2018 replacing Kelly Bryant with Trevor Lawrence.

ACC player of the year Drake Maye was limited to 268 yards passing and turned the ball over three times for North Carolina (9-4, No. 23 CFP), which was seeking its first ACC championship since 1980 when Lawrence Taylor was wreaking havoc on quarterbacks.

Maye got things started on the right foot for the Tar Heels, capping an 11-play, 78-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead on UNC’s first possession.

But the Tar Heels repeatedly sputtered on offense inside the red zone after that, the biggest blow coming when Maye misfired near the goal line and Wiggins – who had struggled in Clemson’s 51-45 win over Wake Forest – returned his pass for a touchdown to give Clemson a 32-10 lead with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Klubnik provided an immediate spark for Clemson.

He led the Tigers on a nine-play, 71-yard drive, culminating in a 1-yard TD pass to Davis Allen. After Maye’s fumble, Klubnik caught a 19-yard pass from Phil Mafah to set up Mafah’s 4-yard touchdown run – Clemson’s second TD in a span of 40 seconds.

Klubnik then showed off his arm strength with a 68-yard pass to fellow freshman Cole Turner to set up his own 1-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead.

END OF AN ERA

This is the final year the ACC will feature its two division winners playing for a championship. In future years, all ACC teams will be lumped together and the two teams with the best records will advance to the title game.

THE TAKEAWAY

North Carolina: Maye garnered plenty of Heisman Trophy talk during the season, but the Tar Heels offense has stalled resulting in a three-game losing streak. But as long as Maye doesn’t transfer – and there are no indications he will given his family history at North Carolina – the Tar Heels have a good chance to get back to the ACC title game next season.

Clemson: The Tigers have set a high bar by winning national championships, so as much as they will enjoy getting back atop the ACC mountain there will be plenty of talk over whether Swinney cost his team a chance at a spot in the College Football Playoff by not turning to Klubnik at quarterback earlier in the season. It seems Uiagalelei might be a logical transfer portal candidate.

UP NEXT

Clemson will play in the Orange Bowl, while North Carolina awaits a bowl bid.