USC, UCLA to leave Pac-12 on a day of seismic odds in college sports

04 Jul 2022 | 08:51

So Pac-12 is about to be Pac-10 again, maybe even Pac-8. Back to the future, really.

And this is Larry Scott’s legacy, this defection to the Big Ten by USC and UCLA, which essentially destroyed the Pac-12.

We said all together, that the LA schools were the top schools of the convention. Without the number 2 media market in the country, the chances of succeeding in the next media rights deal – a prospect that seemed the only glimmer of hope for the conference – were pretty much gone.

The Power Five? Once the Trojan and Bruins conference changes, perhaps in 2024, you might as well call it Power Two. The Big Ten and the Southeast Conference will dominate the landscape. The Atlantic Coast Conference will be vulnerable to poaching (and so much to the much-heralded alliance between the Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC). And the Big 12 and the rest of Pac-anything will hit smaller conferences to fill their memberships, understanding that the TV fund has surpassed them.

Probably suggested that we had a super congress structure according to the promotion/relegation system not too far, after all.

(And it’s no coincidence that the San Diego State athletic director, John David Wicker, personally appeared in front of the San Diego media on Thursday afternoon, advice that could take an hour. after Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group broke the story. Looks like the Mountain West Conference programs are polishing their applications for the Pac-12.)

Scott’s legacy? A series of bad decisions from the outset sent the Pac-12 down to second place.

The first one failed in 2010 when the convention got a chance to add Texas and Oklahoma in the first round of conference reordering euphoria.

The second was to launch a video conferencing network and decide to go it alone, rather than partnering with Fox or ESPN to ensure better distribution and status with those networks. The Pac-12 network is great if you are affiliated with or a fan of Olympic sports, but a disaster in raising the reputation of marquee sports.

The third is the obsession with luxurious office space. The move of conference offices to expensive downtown San Francisco real estate has helped reduce conference funds at the same time that the Pac-12 is lagging further financially behind its brethren in Power Five… and that name sounds odd.

That financial disadvantage has affected the programs’ ability to attract coaching and administrative talent and build the facilities that are so important in collegiate sports. And it swells with each season as its marquee sport is dropped from the College Rugby Round.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Several reports said USC and UCLA raked in $100 million or more a year from their stake in Big Ten media rights revenue after the move was made. That’s an approximate 66 percent increase from what they’re getting now.

And we should have seen that happen when USC athletic director Mike Bohn suggested a few years ago, shortly after arriving in LA, that USC was willing to leave its options open. At the time, we thought that meant being independent, at least in football, as one of the few schools with a large enough profile to follow Notre Dame’s lead. Obviously, we didn’t think as big as he did.

It’s worth noting that John Canzano, former Oregonian columnist (and now Substack) pointed out that both Bohn and UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond are newcomers to the conference and probably have a worldview that extends beyond the borders of the Pac-12.

And could this be an O’Malley/Stoneham moment? After all, when Walter O’Malley decided to move the Dodgers from Brooklyn to LA in 1958, he convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham that his future was brighter – and a historic confrontation saved – if he moved his team to San Francisco, instead of Minneapolis as he had planned.