After decades of playing each other in the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided that wasn’t enough and announced Wednesday they would be taking their relationship to the next level by scheduling inter-conference games in all sports. The new agreement is expected to take effect for basketball and Olympic sports beginning with the 2012-13 school year and 2017 for football.

The new “collaborative agreement” will provide the two conferences with many of the benefits of conference realignment without all the messy legalities. The two conferences will be able to schedule marquee games with coast-to-coast audiences that will make them more marketable for future television contracts, as well as bolster their respective conference television networks, possibly including a bowl game.

Final details are still being worked out, but early indications are that Pac-12 and Big Ten basketball and other sports teams will be scheduling games and tournaments with each other starting next season. Due to existing schedule contracts, the arrangement will not take effect for football until 2017. But when it does, early indications are that efforts will be made to match up teams based on competitiveness, meaning tantalizing early-season matchups like Ohio State-USC and Oregon-Michigan could soon be a reality.

The move is already having implications for future schedules, as the Big Ten is effectively scrapping its plan to have nine-game conference schedules. And the extra nonconference game could have long-term consequences for Notre Dame, as many affected schools (Michigan, Purdue, USC, Stanford, etc.) that currently hold annual games with the Irish might be forced to revisit their nonconference scheduling.

[New York Times]