“Pac 12–Death Notice”
It was a Black Friday in college football.
By Saturday, the patient was dead.
All that is left is the autopsy and Memorial Service notices.
In a 24-hour span, the Conference of Champions died. Cause of death Greed. Contributing factor-horrible leadership. Next of Kin-what’s left now known as the Pac 4.
On Friday morning the PAC 12-did a Zoom call, thinking the 10-remaining schools would vote to approve the ‘Deed of Rights’, the first step towards accepting a new TV deal.
The Commissioner George Kliavkoff presented what he believed was the best TV deal he could put together. Within moments his idea of turning over the TV rights to Apple TV-for complete streaming of the conference games, had been rejected.
His attempts to lure ESPN-Disney back into a special Friday night package failed.
His effort to introduce Nexstar-CW to college football went nowhere.
Talks with TBS-TNT stalled.
He ran out of money offers, ran out of options.
Oregon-Washington ran out of patience, and the death knell sounded for a once proud league They were not going to accept a pay plan from Apple that would start at 20M a year, down from the Pac 12-Network payday of 25M per season. They said no to a Bonus plan that would bump up the yearly Apple TV fee based on subscription numbers.
The Ducks and Huskies rationalized that if the Big 10-was paying each school, USC-and-UCLA included, 60M, they should not have to operate at such a low fee. The SEC payday is 50M a year. The Big 12 will pay schools 37M per season in their new deals.
3-hours later the other dominoes fell. It was not just USC-UCLA a year ago, or Colorado last week. It was Oregon and Washngton. and then the Big 12 raided the remnants of the conference.
By Friday night, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, the corner state schools voted to leave, joining Colorado in the Big 12.
By midnight, Apple TV ended all talks with what used to be the Conference of Champions.
Left standing were California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington. The rubble now was known as the Pac 4.
No TV contract effective in 2024. No cornerstone football programs left either.
The condemnation was universal.
Horrible leadership from since fired Commissioner Larry Scott, who created the Pac 12-network, then failed to get distribution. The man who took on great expense, was paid a great salary, and then was removed. Kliavkoff took heat for failing to have a vision to move quickly on new deals while he still had 10-schools left, failing to realize without USC-UCLA his leverage was weakened.
The Pac 12-Presidents share blame too, sitting atop their Ivy Towers of academia failing to see the landscape shifts in the media markets below. The network deals were taken up by the other conferences. All the marquee broadcast windows were filled too by every other conference.
What’s left now will be the question, who goes where? The Mountain West, which held onto San Diego State and others is a strong Group of 5-league, but they pay out just 4M-per team per year on a limited TV contract.
Do you really think Oregon State-Washington State are going to move down to be Group of 5-for no money?
Do you really think Cal and Stanford can survive as an independent with bad teams and virtually no TV money coming in as they rebuild? Nobody can be Notre Dame.
Do you really believe the MWC will not remind it’s schools, if you try to exit to go elsewhere, you owe us (34M) exit fees. Even they want money on any future deals.
Where else do you go to find teams to join the league?
It’s a nightmare, triggered by greed and nothing more. And are these TV deals a one time thing, slated to drown in red ink after the next 4-to-6 year contact expires?
Speaking of money, we are two years into the NIL and Transfer Portal projects, so distasteful now that the NCAA and Congress are talking about governmental intervention to change that mess.
I understand the financial crush hitting college programs. I don’t understand how you can leave a conference that made your schools and its athletic programs special for generations.
The historical fallout is significant. No Pac 12, therefore no Rose Bowl heritage we used to have. What happens to USC-UCLA…The Big Game in Palo Alto-Berkley, the Apple Cup, or the old Civil War?
I close my eyes and I flashback to John McKay, Mike Garrett, OJ Simpson, Charles White, Pete Carroll at USC. The grittiness of Terry Donahue and all things that were John Wooden, Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton.
Go to every campus and you get the same flashbacks whether you are in the tiny mill town that is Corvallis, on the Palouse in Washington, or at Sun Devil Stadium or down Tucson Old Pueblo Way.
How could these schools turn their back on its history, legacy, loyalty that went all the way back to 1915. A Conference that survived World War 1…Pearl Harbor, earthquakes and fires?
They did and they leave behind the most special times you could ever remember from the LA Coliseum, to Pasadena, to Autzen Stadium and Seattle.
But they could ot survive the greed and the spending sprees that suddenly showed up. And they could not survive the incompetence of its ownership to not understand what was happening.
This does not feel right, does not look right, but not much can be done now. Funeral services for the Conference of Champions are pending.