Sometimes, bad publicity is better than none.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott should hope that’s the case, as the maligned mogul has been picked apart and criticized by media outlets across the country this offseason. The conference is in turmoil, and every damning article that’s published continues to serve as a reminder that the Pac-12 is digging itself further and further into the basement of the Power 5.
Another Day, Another Scathing Review
The most recent document regarding “The Larry Scott Fiasco” comes from CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. In his article, Dodd touches on a variety of issues surrounding the conference and its commissioner. He details the Pac-12’s excessive operating expenses, noting the $7 million rent at the San Francisco headquarters and the absurd salaries of the conference’s executive staff ($8.4 million for the Pac-12’s top-five salaried employees versus $3.7 million for the SEC’s entire executive staff).
And while we’re on the topic of absurdities, Dodd also breaks down the commissioner’s outlandish notion that the conference is valued at $5 billion. The Oregonian first reported that Scott is offering investors a 10-percent share of the conference for $500 million. Do the math, and you see where the problem lies.
How can Scott, or anyone beyond cretin-level intelligence, believe that the “Pac-12 enterprise” is worth $5 billion? For comparison’s sake, as specified in the article, executives believe that the B1G is valued around $2 billion. Keep in mind that the B1G is a conference that is thriving compared to the Pac-12, which is trying (and failing) to stay afloat. Yet Scott is so disillusioned that he believes the Pac-12 is $3 billion more valuable than the B1G!
Scott is running a scam — one obvious to many of us outside the power structure yet ignored by those Scott reports to.
Why? Because the powers that be are afraid to expose Scott, thereby exposing their own senseless management of the conference. Don’t believe me? Ask John Canzano, whose recent article on The Oregonian articulates this very issue. Prominent school executives are reluctant to mandate extensive, external audits of the conference’s finances, likely because their ineptitude will be brought to light.
What’s the Fix for the Pac-12 Conundrum?
The only hope is that the newer university presidents will call out the “old guard,” demand a legitimate audit and, if it shows that the conference’s finances are being woefully mismanaged, give Scott a well-deserved pink slip and rein in operating costs.
The athletic directors who report to their respective presidents and board of trustees won’t have the guts or the power to stage a coup. Doing so would likely result in them being cashiered and blacklisted from any future jobs.
Instead, maybe fans of Pac-12 basketball and football could band together and “go on strike.” They could refuse buy season tickets or attend games until change comes at the top of the conference and until it’s run like a true business, as it should be.
But are fans willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces? I very much doubt it. And I don’t believe this would be fair to the student athletes or their fellow students.
Another option, one that would probably have a bigger impact, is big-time boosters withholding their contributions. Unfortunately, I am not among this mix. If any of you are in these circles, maybe you can do some lobbying in this regard.
With Scott opting to have the conference “go Adidas,” maybe Uncle Phil could lead the charge. His voice goes a long way with the Oregon and Stanford administrations. And I think he also has influence over the Scott loyalist who is currently running Oregon State.
A final possibility was reportedly brought up by retired Kansas State president Jon Wefald in 2017 (per SportsDay’s coverage of a proposal originally obtained by the San Jose State Mercury News). According to the story, Wefald suggested that the BIG XII’s football teams play all of their non-conference games against Pac-12 opponents.
The proposal made sense, considering that the two western conferences were falling well behind the B1G and the SEC in terms of revenue. And, with the ESPN-owned ACC Network going live in August, the ACC is also on the rise.
But, as the article specifies, the proposal has already been shot down by BIG XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The truth is, the climate has changed, and even the BIG XII has seen its stock rise since Wefald’s offer was on the table.
Still, creative solutions like Wefald’s are ones that Scott and company should take note of. Instead of living under a $7 million, state-of-the-art rock, Pac-12 executives need to wake up and get in touch with reality. The conference is in free-fall mode, and significant changes need to be made if it hopes to shed its reputation as the laughing stock of the Power 5.
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Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
Jon Joseph grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but has been blessed to have lived long enough in the west to have exorcised all east coast bias. He played football in college and has passionately followed the game for seven decades. A retired corporate attorney Jon has lectured across the country and published numerous articles on banking and gaming law. Now resident in central Oregon Jon follows college football across the nation with a focus on the Conference of Champions and the Ducks.
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