Pac-12 Survival Depends on Big Ten, Not Big 12: Finding the Path to Stability

03 Aug 2022 | 08:03

As if the rearrangement wasn’t nuanced enough, the current wave has a Shakespearian element.

That’s the focus as the series begins on June 30, when Pac-12’s former “alliance” partner votes to accept membership requests from USC and UCLA and steals the heart of a 107-year convention. age.

A month later, we reached ‘Et tu, Kevin?’ production phase.

On Tuesday at the Big Ten’s pre-season media rollout, Commissioner Kevin Warren boldly and publicly announced that the conference Will continue to explore expansion options.

“We are not going to expand just to expand,” he said. “It will be strategic, it will add value to our conference…”

Not long after Warren’s statement, CBS Sports and Action Network reported (via unnamed sources) that Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Cal were on the short list of candidates being evaluated.

The double whale case overlaps another layer of uncertainty over the Pac-12’s future, making Commissioner George Kliavkoff’s meat-surgery efforts much more complicated.

It also highlights a point many fans have overlooked:

The biggest threat to the Pac-12’s existence is the Big Ten, not the Big 12. The former is a dream destination; the latter is a fallback option.

But for all the smoke billowing from Indianapolis, the Hotline doesn’t believe the situation has materially changed.

Despite Warren’s statements and subsequent media reports named, the Big Ten is no closer to poaching additional Pac-12 schools than it was a week ago.

Instead, the next step in this movie revolves around Notre Dame. And NBC.

For the sake of transparency – and because reordering is flexible as well as complex – the following should be treated as informed speculation by us.

We start…

The most important news of the week did not come from Warren but from Mark Silverman, president of Fox Sports.

Fox is a major stakeholder in the Big Ten Network that, in turn, controls the broadcast rights of the tournament. (As one source recently noted about the Big Ten, “You might as well call it Fox Inc.”)

On Wednesday, Silverman told The Athletic that negotiations over the Big Ten’s media rights will be completed in the “next few weeks” and possibly before Labor Day.

There is no indication that additional schools will be invited at this late stage, thus leaving Oregon, Washington, and Stanford limited in short-term options and giving the Pac-12 a chance to survive.

(One point we’ve mentioned before is worth repeating: USC doesn’t want Oregon – or Washington, for that matter – in the Big Ten. The Trojan subtly undercut Oregon’s recruiting efforts and competitive prospects. by leaving the Ducks behind in an exhausted conference. Why throw them a lifesaver for the gilded stage?)

In addition, fans should pay special attention to which media companies are partnering with Big Ten for the contract that is currently being negotiated.

Pac-12 is making it possible for ESPN to take a small share of the Big Ten’s inventory – even better: no stake – because the network will have more money and available broadcast windows for the content. West Bank.

(If ESPN buys a significant stake, that’s bad news for the Pac-12. Very bad news.)

NBC also has an important role to play. Their contract with Notre Dame is set to expire at the end of the 2025 season and all indications are that the carrier plans to retain the rights to Ireland’s home games.

The smaller the number of shares NBC buys from the Big Ten’s inventory, the more cash available to Notre Dame.

And if Notre Dame gets paid, the chances of further disrupting the Power Five landscape are reduced.

Why? We believe the Irish want to remain Independent for their next contract cycle, as long as revenue numbers and College Football Qualifier access meet the desired threshold.

That would also benefit the Pac-12.

Without Notre Dame as the 17th team, the Big Ten’s strategic calculus would change and a second wave of reorganizations would become less likely (though certainly not illusory).

A single Pac-12 school, or a combination of Pac-12 schools, seems to pack more value for the Big Ten when combined with the mighty Irish to form an 18 or 20-team super-duels conference.

Without Ireland, no combination of Pac-12 schools would create a comparable financial windfall for existing Big Ten members, who are likely to rake in more than $75 million a year in total media copyright.

As we see it, if NBC and Notre Dame tie the knot for another contract cycle…

Big Ten comes in at number 16, prompting the SEC to do the same…

The sport entered the era of an extended playoff with two giant teams of 16 in control, as well as their media partners, Fox and ESPN, enjoying…

The ACC remains locked in its licensing deal for the next decade…

And Pac-12 and Big 12 move forward, perhaps independently, maybe in some alliance with each other or ACC…

The trick for Kliavkoff was to secure contractual commitments from Oregon, Washington, and Stanford that provided enough security to put Four Corners schools at ease while also soliciting the best possible offers from potential media partners.

Pac-12’s exclusive 30-day negotiation period with ESPN and Fox ends on (or around) August 4, and there’s little reason to believe either carrier will make the offer the conference calls for. can not refuse.

With no change in tactics – a possibility that cannot be discounted – the Pac-12 will head to the open market with the full complement of its media rights available, including 36 football games already available. segregated on the Pac-12 Network for the last decade.

Yes, the loss of the Los Angeles market was a blow to the conference’s valuation.

That said, league rights are probably undervalued as the current deal was signed in 2011 and prices for live sports content have skyrocketed in the decade since.

How all this plays out is anyone’s guess. Be discerning about what you read and be careful what you believe.

We’ll soon have our first major clue from the Big Ten office, now located inside the Globe Theatre.

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