Pac-12 Football: In George We Trust

Darren Perkins Editorials

There are a lot of hot rumors circulating around the Pac-12’s forthcoming media rights deal. Most of them are on the bad side. People are losing their sanity over the length of the negotiations because the assumption is that the longer they go, the worse things are. And, while that could be true, it certainly does not mean that it is true.

With all the other conferences locked up in their media deals, there really is no rush to get it done. Sure, it does need to get done sooner rather than later, but why not cross the t’s and dot the i’s to make sure it is done to maximize results? Rushing to get it done simply to put onlookers’ minds at ease would be foolish. Sure, in hindsight it is looking like the Pac-12 could have foreseen the Big 12 cutting in line and therefore hustled to put a deal in place before the Big-12 did. But, for right or for wrong, the Pac-12 did not, so here we are.  

Keep in mind, the Big 12 essentially re-upped the deal that they currently have, which takes much less time to do than when negotiating a whole new deal with different parties involved as the Pac-12 is doing. And, the Pac-12 has to completely change their agreement due to the current lack of distribution on the Pac-12 network and the fan-hating late kickoffs, both of which severely hurt Pac-12 exposure. 

Some Thoughts

Apple TV: For those skeptical of Apple, keep in mind that Apple is currently in 30 million homes while the Pac-12 network is only in 14 million. So, if Apple picks up where the Pac-12 network left off then it will instantly more than double the exposure. Not to mention the added subscribers there would be following the agreement.  

For those who are anti-streaming: I say stop being a curmudgeon old fuddy-duddy and step up to the modern day. Buy one of your grandkids some pizza and an ice cream cone and have them set you up on streaming. If you find yourself muttering the words, “Well, back in my day…” just remember that back in your day when an older person said “back in my day,” you most likely rolled your eyes at him.  

That is what they are now doing to you. 

Some are all up in a frenzy over Cal not having the Pac-12 logo painted on their brand new turf. “Are the Bears sending a message?” No they are not, they just have not done it yet. It was only revealed this past Friday.

And yes, if you have to add a streaming service it will most likely cost you around $10 a month. But, think of it this way, if indeed you are stuck in the good ole days, let us say the latest pre-streaming era of around the year 2000, then that $10 will only cost you $5.80 in 2000 money. So, there, I just completely and illogically saved you $4.20 a month. (Wink-wink. Insert winking smiley face here). 

The four corner schools are not going to bolt to the Big 12: Even if the Pac-12 deal comes in less than the Big-12’s $31 million per year, the change in travel, playoff access, and overall headache of switching conferences over just a couple of million dollars is not incentive enough to jump ship. Remember, the LA teams left because they will be making around $35 million more a year.  

The Pac-12 Should have expanded before negotiating? No way. Another possible reason that the negotiations are taking longer than “normal” is that Kliavkoff is negotiating “multiple” Pac-12 conference scenarios He is negotiating terms with 10 teams, 12 teams, and possibly even 14 teams. All the while staying in communication with the expansion candidates. Which is smart. After all, before Kliavkoff expands the conference he naturally is going to want to know how much he can get with expansion. A nightmare scenario is to expand first only to find out the new teams add little to no value and drive down everyone’s slice of the pie.  

The Challenges George Inherited  

Larry Scott: No need to go into great detail here; Scott’s gross mishandling of the conference is well-known and Kliavkoff has to clean up the mess left behind. 

Pac-12 presidents: These are the people who enabled Scott’s reign of greed and incompetence and who, for right or wrong, have never put the same priority on football as the other conferences. I have no problem with those who prioritize academics over athletics. But, the reality is that both can be a high priority that compliment each other and it is not simply preferring one over the other. A strong athletic department drives dollars to increase exposure to help expand academics.

For a lot of kids choosing a college, a school’s athletic success (or lack thereof) plays a part in their decision. Heck, up in Spokane, it is a foregone conclusion that Gonzaga would have closed down 20 years ago had it not been for the Zags’ then-recent success in the NCAA tournament. This caused applications to skyrocket, increased enrollment, and added millions of dollars to save the university. Today it is thriving.  

Kliavkoff has not spent his time at the negotiating table simply rolling over.

Some give Kliavkoff the blame for the LA schools leaving. Maybe he could have prevented it, maybe not. The LA schools, particularly USC, had been grumbling for years, and the only way to prevent them from bolting would have been to create an uneven distribution of dollars in their favor. It is very doubtful that the Pac-12 presidents would have agreed to this. So, off to the B1G the LA schools go.  

West coast fans: There simply is not the sheer number of crazed football fans as there is in the rest of the country. There’s nothing wrong with that, after all, our westerly mobile ancestors came out to the pacific coast to get away from those eastern folks. But, it does mean fewer eyeballs and fewer dollar bills to support the western schools. 

George the Gambler

Does Kliavkoff have an ace up his sleeve?

He is smart to keep quiet and not risk inadvertently showing his hand. While the negotiations are taking longer than they “normally” would which is leaving fans and pundits to twist in the wind, it does not mean that “these” negotiations here in 2022 and 2023 are taking longer than they should. Kliavkoff has a lot on his plate which affects the negotiations. He has to instill a post-Scott culture change, a football-is-king mentality in the conference presidents, and complete an overhaul of the conference’s media rights while navigating expansion. 

The grand point here is that all of these factors add to the amount of time it is taking to put this deal together. There is no need to rush things for the sake of simply getting them done. When things are quiet the media explodes with noise of its own to fill the void. Hence, the recent run-on silly rumors and made-up nonsense.  For all we know, Kliavkoff may reveal a surprisingly good media deal. 

But, in the long run, does it really matter?

The current B1G media rights deal runs through 2031. The new Pac-12 deal is projected to be in the 5-year range. So, 2031 is the latest the Pac-12 schools might join the B1G and it might be as early as the end of the Pac-12’s soon-to-be-announced deal. Therefore, expect a new round of conference realignment talk to really heat up in about 2026 or so.  

This might well mean that the soon-to-be-announced Pac-12 media rights deal will serve as just a temporary fix to be replaced by the future and permanent realignment of college athletics.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Twitter

Natalie Liebhaber, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the technology industry in SLC, Utah.

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