FLYOVER COUNTRY—The Song Remains Same
Take your mind all the way back to last May. The buzz around the conference then was the details of the television deal that Larry Scott negotiated with Fox and ESPN. Without rehashing all of the particulars, the biggest news was that each member would pocket, on average, around $21 million annually over the twelve- year contract.
Any way you look at it, over $20 million per annum is a lot of cabbage. Of course, the cash is not going to be pure profit. Collegiate sports are expensive to produce, maintain, and market. It also seems to be a truism that the more money you make, the more money you need to make just to stay where you are.
One would be forgiven for thinking that this influx of money would change things irrevocably for the Pac-12’s member institutions. After all, just a few short years ago, everyone was grousing about how penurious the prior television contract was. That one rewarded teams, in large part, based upon the number of appearances they made in higher profile TV contests, a system that mostly rewarded the big media market players, such as UCLA, even when they were putting out some of the worst played football in the conference. The Bruins were never finding themselves as the sixth place earner under the old Pac-10 media contract, even if their results dictated that they should have been on the ABC regional telecast fewer times than they appeared.
Under the old unequal system, schools like WSU and OSU had a point about how such a deal “short-changed” their football programs. They might be having relatively decent years and still not crack the marquee game lineup and rake in cash for their success. The vote to expand the conference mitigated that inequality by coming in at such a figure that a clause which mandated equal revenue sharing kicked in.
Twenty-one million dollars per. $21,000,000.00 That’s a lot of scratch. A program such as Oregon goes from earning well less than half of that in TV dollars in a given year and more than doubles it. With the TV money kicking in soon and the PAC-12 Network starting up to eventually print more cash from the basic cable fees of nearly every subscriber within its geographic and media footprint, the above figure is just a departure point. Even more money is eventually on the way. And exposure too. Everyone’s games will be on every week in some form.
Like I said, it will be beneficial for the Ducks: For OSU, it was like winning the lottery.
Due to the aforementioned terrible television deal, and frankly, to a smallish and unmotivated fan base, the Beavers have a long and not so hallowed tradition of being a “Dial-A-Win” program for other schools in September, and sometimes October, nearly every year. In fairness, the Ducks were in this mode in the 1970s on through most of the ’80s I’d say, but we had outgrown it before Phil Knight became inextricably identified with Oregon Athletics.
Our last inarguable “payday game” was in
1989 when we traveled to face Iowa without a return date 1987, when we played Ohio State without a return date. (HT to Curiousduck). When Mr. Knight began donating in earnest in the latter half of the ’90s, we already had home and home agreements in place with Michigan State, and Wisconsin and had played home-and-home rounds with Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan State and Iowa. These were not the higher profile out of conference games we fans hope to see today, but for back then, one could tell a corner had been forever turned—a corner that the Beavers seem to never even get to without backsliding.
There’s an old saying: “You can take the trash out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the trash.” Which brings us to OSU and its new money.
What are they doing with it? What are their plans? It turns out, despite the coming deluge of heretofore unheard of riches, they have scheduled themselves another body bag epic, this time with the Michigan Wolverines.
Essentially, they looked at the new Pac-12 contract, and the pile of money, decided they deficit-spent most of it already in dismal years past, then decided to continue to feed their bad fiscal habits at the expense of the conference.
How do you figure, Canard?
Glad you asked Dear Reader.
You see, it’s like this—Utah, newly minted Pac-12 program Utah, with it’s Reser-esque home stadium seating some 45k souls, just managed a home-and-home arrangement with the Michigan Wolverines. The home leg of that contract will be the sole property of the Pac-12 Network and first make money for the conference, and then, especially if it is an “instant classic,” becomes part of our shared media property for all of time, earning new advertising money every time it airs.
The Beavers’ game with the Wolverines becomes the property of the Big Ten Network, and even if it becomes an instant classic, who cares? It’s earning for them and FOX into perpetuity. The missing revenue for the Pac-12 from there not being a return date, is 1) pocketed as “murder me for hire” cash by the Beavers AD in 2015, and 2) never is seen again.
If the game between the unfailingly road-killed Beavers and the Wolverines becomes an instant classic, if the P12Net wants to air it, the conference’s media entity will have to pay the BTN for the right to do so. Essentially, by prostituting themselves this way in an era of shared conference media rights what the Beavers are doing is scheduling theft from the other eleven partners.
And we haven’t even taken into account that the track record all but screams that the Beavers will be waxed, rather like they were at Camp Randall last year, thereby weakening the national perception of the conference. As the Beavers exact this price for their membership almost every autumn, we sometimes forget this factor. Now they want to cost us both cash and reputation.
Ah, but Canard, Colorado has just done the same thing with Michigan you nitwit. Alas they did. The major difference is this: Colorado paid a very real and very steep price to leave the Big XII and join us in the Pac-12, to the extent that they were extended bridge loans from CU for their missing football revenue. All of the Beavers’ fiscal misfortunes are self-inflicted. Like a trailer park meth addict, they just don’t make sound decisions.
Basketball Coach Jay John was extended and then fired—schedule the 2008 Penn State body bag special to pay for the contract buyout.
A consultant is hired to decide whether Women’s Basketball Coach LaVonda Wagner should be fired, and then she is—schedule the 2009 TCU game in “neutral” Dallas to pay for that termination.
Colorado paid a pound of flesh to join this conference. One of their rewards is to rub elbows at the big table with our whacked out, dimwitted prostitute from Corntucky, who is busy stealing from everyone else every chance they get and dragging our collective reputation through the mud behind her.