03 Jul 2022 | 08:41
Commenting on the historic decision of USC and UCLA to leave the convention that has been their institution since time immemorial…
Rising: Washington and Oregon’s leverage
The hotline calls ’em as we see’ em, and we see the complete disintegration of the Pac-12 as a scenario that cannot be discounted.
To be sure, that’s not the most realistic outcome for the conference. But ignore it when you are in danger.
In our view, survival begins in Washington and Oregon.
Without a doubt, both schools have been trying to get into the Big Ten since Thursday morning. But according to a source from the Hotline, “that door is closed for the foreseeable future.”
From here, it becomes clear that the Big Ten’s next move is to take over Notre Dame. If the Irish are willing to end their existence as an Independent, they will need one or three partners to accompany them into the Big Ten (for even numbers). Huskies and Ducks could be contenders at that point, along with North Carolina.
But we do not envision a short-term scenario in which one of the two Northwest schools is admitted to the Big Ten without Notre Dame participating. And that can take time, perhaps years.
Also, this: Any speculation about Oregon and/or Washington joining the Big Ten assuming that USC and UCLA will support the admission of other West Coast football programs.
For the sake of competition (i.e. recruitment), Trojans and Bruins are better off being the only members on this side of the Rockies.
So for the moment, let’s assume Washington and Oregon don’t have a viable, immediate path into the Big Ten.
In that state, they become the “best choice” and the “representative program” from the rest of the schools in either Pac-12 or Big 12, according to a source from the Hotline.
Yes, that gives the Pac-12 a chance to survive, but it also provides significant leverage to the Northwest powers.
True, their members look down on each other, and Phil Knight probably still doubts that UW picked Adidas a few years ago.
But at the administrative level (sporting directors Jen Cohen and Rob Mullens and presidents Ana Mari Cauce and Michael Schil) there are solid working relationships.
In parallel, schools can use significant leverage in the restructured Pac-12 and make it ready for the Big 12 in the event it turns aggressive.
(A year after being rejected by the Pac-12, Big 12 can become a hunter.)
We’re not sure of the fit – the prospect of Huskies and Ducks spending their Saturdays in Waco and Ames doesn’t feel right. But at this point, everything was on the table until it wasn’t.
It’s worth noting that Cauce, the UW president, takes over as chairman of the Pac-12 board today. Will she try to lead the conference reeling at the same time as overseeing a covert operation to leave it?
Falling: Oregon’s Hiring Outlook
It’s hard to overstate the adverse impact that USC and UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 will have on the Ducks’ ability to continue pulling elite players out of Southern California – the same players who motivated them. rise to the national level.
Blue-chip rookies are now more likely to play for LA schools or one of the top Big Ten programs.
That’s another reason why Phil Knight is definitely doing whatever he can to get Ducks into the Big Ten. His dream of winning the national championship has gone up in smoke.
On the rise: 12 big merger possibilities
Admittedly everything is just conjecture at this point. And an ESPN-hosted partnership between the Pac-12 and the Big 12 seems a distinct possibility.
Whether it’s a full merger or an alliance – a real alliance – we cannot predict.
But the remaining 22 schools will need stability and financial support to be able to operate at their best within ESPN’s reach.
Rising: ESPN Options
The hotline to watch USC and UCLA jump into the Big Ten is Fox’s answer to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, which has a package media deal with ESPN.
The networks are the grandmasters here, friends. And now, both control 16-team tournaments with blue-blooded football programs.
But we could barely convince the SEC to provide enough inventory to meet ESPN’s massive programming needs — from ABC and ESPN to ESPN2 and ESPN+.
And the inventory available in the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones was a lot cheaper at the end of the year.
This sees us as the perfect opportunity for ESPN to sell the major college football league at below-market prices to secure content for all broadcasts, from 12 p.m. ET to 10:30 p.m. ET. Eastern time and on all networks.
Don’t forget: ESPN needs content, which means it needs conferences to survive.
Falling: The view that USC has outgrown the Pac-12.
That’s like turning the arsonist into a victim of a fire.
The Trojan’s shoddy gameplay and administrative mismanagement (before the arrival of sports director Mike Bohn) were among the main causes of the Pac-12’s brand deterioration.
We do not fault USC for taking the money; nor do we overlook the consolidation of power in college football.
But the Trojan has no way – no, no, zip – a sympathetic character in this.
In Development: Options for Four Corners Schools
USC and UCLA are the connective tissue that helped demonstrate Pac-12 membership for Arizona and Arizona State, which joined the conference in 1978, and for Utah and Colorado, which joined in 2011.
Without the financial and recruiting benefits of affiliation with Los Angeles schools, motivation to continue participating in the conference could wane.
Don’t be surprised if, together or individually, they seek membership in the Big 12, which suddenly looks much more appealing than it did two days ago.
And in the quartet, keep a special eye on Arizona and ASU.
Falling: Schedule sobriety
The need for travel for USC and UCLA athletes in Olympic sports should not be overlooked.
We can’t wait to see how the Big Ten arrange their schedules.
Will UCLA teams spend weeks in a row hopping from one Midwestern campus to another, like the Dodgers on a long road?
Will the USC teams visit Maryland one weekend, then the Rutgers two weeks later?
Massive cash flows await Trojans and Bruins – at least $100 million annually for media rights – that will allow them to provide first-class resources to athletes in all sports.
But at the same time, being a member of the Big Ten can exactly be a significant mental and physical toll.
Downfall: The tenure of George Kliavkoff.
The first 364 days included a big set of challenges but turned out to be just one scenario compared to 365 days.
From our vantage point, it seems that Kliavkoff was caught off guard by the development of thunder – as did everyone else in the conference.
Should Kliavkoff, whose term begins July 1, 2021, find out about this?
Perhaps, though easier said than done – Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby was blindsided when Texas and Oklahoma joined the SEC last summer.
Can Kliavkoff do more to make sure LA schools are happy?
Only he (and they) know the extent of his outreach efforts on the revenue front.
Was he dealt a difficult hand?
Sure. (More on that for a moment.)
Growing: The Call of the State of San Diego
Without the USC and UCLA in the conference, the Aztecs seem to have more value for the Pac-12 reconfigured as a connection point to Southern California.
Just to be clear: We weren’t expecting the conference to offer memberships to SDSU, but the opportunity, once nonexistent, now does not (especially if ESPN shows it needs a foothold in the larger LA market. ).
Pac-12 presidents have always looked down on California State University schools. Maybe it’s time to rethink that approach.
Dead: Alliance (with Big Ten)
No comment needed.
Rising: Rose Bowl uncertain
Just as the Pac-12’s existence is now in doubt, so is the future of the January 1 matchup against the Big Ten.
However, the game itself is not going anywhere.
Our best guess is that it will become the permanent host of the quarter-finals and semi-finals in the College Soccer Open, but there is no guarantee that the participants will come from traditional partners. its system.
Like many things, a valuable part of the college football tradition will no longer exist as we know it.
The Fall: The Legacy of Larry Scott
While not the sole reason for the departure of LA schools, the former commissioner’s misguided communication strategies and convention administration created the circumstances for the current situation.
The failure of the Pac-12 Network as a business reduced conference revenue, slashed impression share, devalued the Pac-12 brand, and prompted USC and UCLA to seek pastures. greener.
Furthermore, Scott’s decision to sign a 12-year contract with ESPN and Fox that locked the conference into a deal proved it was far from complete. For a shorter term – for example, eight or 10 years – Pac-12 will have to renegotiate its media rights before Big Ten steps up to the party table this springthus locking USC and UCLA into an agreement.
And just three years ago, Scott turned down an offer from ESPN to take over the Pac-12 Networks distribution and forge a long-term partnership of Tier 1 rights. In that scenario, the LA schools stood still, too. .
The school’s campuses have experienced years of financial distress (compared to their other campuses) in the hope that Scott’s master plan will lead to a jackpot by 2024.
Now, the jackpot is gone, and suffering will only increase.
It was all a colossal waste.
The university presidents who approved Scott’s strategy are also to blame.
But the cleavage of the conference, and perhaps its eventual devastation, became Scott’s legacy.
Meanwhile, he’s pocketed nearly $50 million in salary thanks to his company Pac-12 and is sipping wine overlooking the sunset somewhere.
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