George Kliavkoff at Pac-12 Media Day in 2022. Jul 29, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks during Pac-12 Media Day at Novo Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While there are plenty of vicious moves in college conference realignment, it’s rare to see conference commissioners openly discuss that another conference might be a target for them to raid. That’s at least partly what Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff did at Pac-12 Media Day Friday, though. A reporter asked Klaivkoff a question of “What gives you confidence that the 10 remaining schools are going to stay in this conference?”, following a prelude that referenced an “open for business” comment from Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and a comment from Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren that that conference might look to expand further as well (after previously taking USC and UCLA from the Pac-12). And Kliavkoff responded with quite the remark about Yormark’s comment:

A George Kliavkoff quote.

Here’s video that aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter Friday of both that question and answer from Kliavkoff, as well as a later question and answer:

The second question there is “Do you think the days of trying to be collegial when it comes to expansion are over?” That led to quite the response from Kliavkoff:

“I hope they’re not over, but they’re certainly harmed. That remark was a reflection of the fact that I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12, trying to destabilize our remaining conference. I understand why they’re doing it. When you look at the relative media value between the two conferences, I get it, I get why they’re scared. I get why they’re trying to destabilize us. I was just tired of that. Yeah, that’s probably not the most collegial thing I’ve ever said.”

Twitter had quite the reactions to Kliavkoff’s remarks. Some saw his discussion here as a sign of insecurity, especially with his claim that the Pac-12 media rights are stronger (they are not currently in terms of per-school distributions, and it’s unclear what both conference’s media rights will look like in the next round with so much uncertainty about who’s even in each conference):ere’s the specific discussion of “grenades”:

Others weren’t impressed with his specific target of the Big 12:

And some took exception to his claim that now is when “collegiality” has been lost, considering some of the nastiness in previous rounds of realignment:

But there were also just a lot of comments on how rare it is to see a sitting commissioner publicly target a specific other conference as a potential source of expansion:

We’ll see what this leads to for Kliavkoff and the Pac-12.

[Awful Announcing; photo from Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.