You gotta hand it to the Pac-12.
Ever since USC and UCLA dropped the June 30 bombshell that they were leaving the marriage for more money and bling, the remaining 10 teams have shown strong solidarity in sticking together, come what may.
There may be a lot more going on behind the scenes with third-party contacts testing the waters to see if the remaining folks want to jump ship. But you can’t find such a fissure through any authoritative voice who speaks on the record. That just doesn’t seem to be the case.
This is admirable.
If it keeps up, it is really quite extraordinary.
And that is good news for the remaining teams — if they can stick together.
What I’d really like to know is if Oregon, and perhaps Washington, is asking for an extra piece of the pie if this league stays together. And if so, what does that do to the stability?
To have league presidents and athletic directors stay on the same page, put on the same face, and then have one another’s backs in times like this is, well, historic.
At least one Pac-12 pundit, Jason Scheer, who covers Arizona, is wary of trusting this united front. He said talk between league members is often fake — just look at USC and UCLA.
I think people need to realize it’s every school for itself right. The communication is often fake within the conference. Look at USC and UCLA. These schools all say they were shocked. Each school is going to do what’s best for them, whether it’s stay or go. It’s their job.— Jason Scheer (@jasonscheer) August 5, 2022
With the 30-day negotiation window closing this past week, there has not been any significant news on conference expansion. You can expect that to be the case until the Big Ten finishes its review of its value with media partners, which commissioner Kevin Warren has indicated could be at the first of the college football season, in September.
What we have discovered is the Big Ten is working on what could be a $1.2 billion per year payout for its 16-team league. That is a monumental amount of money for a grant of rights to a conference and will set a new standard.
CBSsports.com columnist Dennis Dodds appeared on 365 Sports this week and revealed none of the remaining Pac-12 teams would add the needed value ($80 to 100 million) for consideration in the Big Ten. He said the biggest domino everyone is waiting on is if Notre Dame will remain independent or accept a standing invitation to join the Big Ten.
“Once we know how that goes, that will determine what other leagues do,” said Dodds.
Because of that, Pac-12 schools are reticent to sign a grant of media rights for any length of time as post-June 30 league options are discussed, said Dodds.
In the meantime, a real dog fight has broken out amongst media and fans connected to the Big 12 and Pac-12.
It’s gotten nasty.
On the left coast, we’ve had numerous columns, tweets, and stories from Pac12 veteran reporters Jon Wilner (Mercury News), Oregon radio host and blogger John Conzano, and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic take a pro “voice” of Pac-12 administrators. They’ve defended, explained, shot down criticism, and published what could be viewed as a company line.
They’ve used their sources to debunk some pro-Big 12 shots at the Pac-12 in a back-and-forth over everything from percent of stadium attendance to media valuations.
Then you have Scheer, the publisher and senior editor of the Wildcat Authority, a 247sports website, who found himself in a firestorm when he reported “meetings” had taken place concerning Pac-12 teams joining the Big 12.
Wilner and Conzano immediately refuted that assertion. They then announced they were doing a podcast together — everyone is welcome.
Scheer was blasted by Conzano who disputed his reports. In turn, Scheer attacked Conazno over his report that no Pac-12 athletic directors had received the latest valuation figures from ESPN.
This is popcorn bowl stuff.
All the bubble gum back-gym sideshows aside, we are all waiting for official and concrete news from university presidents as to the future of leagues that are not the SEC and Big Ten.
But this summer has been fun, hasn’t it?