What’s Next For The Pac-12?

DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD! It has been a longtime coming in the Pac-12 for a leadership change and fans were delighted to hear that it will come at the end of June. The 11-year reign of Larry Scott as the Pac-12 commissioner will end as the conference announced last week that the two have decided to split ways.

That is a really nice way of saying that the conference has fired the guy responsible for tarnishing what was once the “Conference of Champions” and has made the Power 5 conference the laughing stock of the NCAA world.

Larry Scott was tasked with an overhaul of what was then the Pac-10 and he certainly did that, just in the entirely wrong direction. Scott was hired by athletic directors who were very angry over the lack of a legitimate TV deal for their conference, they wanted a larger conference and one with a better championship system. Scott was able to do some good things but also made decisions that put the conference years behind the competition of the SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Big 12.

Scott wasn’t good with the finances for one and set them up for massive debt with new offices in San Francisco. The Pac-12 network was a nice thought but it made the football and basketball programs irrelevant after it struggled to strike a deal with tv partners like DirecTV and failed to bring in any serious interest.

Scott wanted to be primetime for his schools but those primetime games on the West Coast became early Sunday morning on the East Coast and anyone who wanted to cheer on the Sun Devils playing Stanford at an 11 pm kickoff in Florida was truly out of luck.

We could go on and on and on and on about how Scott paralyzed the Pac-12 but his reign is over and it’s safe to say that a massive search will begin for Scott’s replacement. The Pac-12 will be looking at dozens of candidates and if smart, will hire a search firm that will do most of the heavy lifting for them. Scott was a Womens Tennis exec, maybe hiring a football person who has experience in other conferences would be a good start. All I know is that when the next commissioner leaves or gets canned, let’s hope the reaction isn’t received with as much joy as Scott’s dismissal.

This reaction on Twitter had me laughing quite a bit.

Then you have former Pac-10 legend and USC quarterback Matt Leinart who joined in on the fun to talk about how happy he is to see this happen.

And of course, you have the Pac-12 blogs that are thrilled that the rule of Larry Scott is gone for good.

But then there was a great point made by this user. He points out that the people responsible for firing Larry Scott are the same ones who kept him around all this time. Scott didn’t become unpopular overnight and the resentment towards him has been growing for years now. These following quotes came from an LA Times article.

“He was hanging on the coattails of the Big Ten,” another high-ranking official at a Pac-12 school said. “To be honest, I think everyone in the conference was. But he’s the leader. He’s the commissioner. Where was the innovation, the creativity that he’s known for?”

“They have been profitable, but they certainly haven’t met the threshold of revenue that he was intending them to meet,” a former longtime Pac-12 executive said. “No matter what they say, that was definitely the top priority.”

“I’m not going to be able to get a charter to fly a football team this October with the revenues that will come in 2024,” a former Pac-12 athletic director said. He later added, “Meanwhile, in the SEC, they’ve got so much money they’re building beautiful softball facilities.”

These athletic directors and school presidents let Scott hang around for as long as he did and it will be interesting to see what the plan is moving forward. Here is the plan that I would lay out for the current people in charge.

  1. Hire someone with a strong football background that truly knows how to win in college football. Oliver Luck is a name that has been thrown around quite a bit. He was having success at the XFL level and he was a successful athletic director at West Virginia. He has ties to the Pac-12 and his son Andrew had a pretty decent career at Stanford. I also love Alabama’s athletic director Greg Byrne who was at Arizona for seven years as the AD before heading to the SEC.
  2. The Pac-12 needs to figure out what to pay the commissioner and make sure that it is way less than what Scott was getting. Scott was getting more than some campuses were getting and that is just totally asinine. The commissioner should be compensated at a decent rate but by no means should they be hauling in more than the schools that they are working for.
  3. They have to get the hell out of San Francisco. It is far too expensive to headquarter a public institution there and the Pac-12 isn’t Google. There are a ton of great options within the conference where there are teams and if the Pac-12 is smart, they will move somewhere that is also a good option for the TV network.
  4. While Las Vegas has been thrown around, I don’t love that idea. There are no schools in the Pac-12 there and college sports don’t really resonate in that town. One place I do love is Phoenix. There is cheap land, there are two schools in Arizona, there is a massive airport nearby, oh and there is the Walter Cronkite School that could act as a huge benefit to the conference that could funnel in television and journalism talent while also rebuilding.
  5. Negotiating better deals with ESPN and FOX is crucial to the eyeballs the conference gets and when that deal runs out at the end of 2024, it really should be the most important thing to focus on. The Pac-12 has become irrelevant because their games are played at terrible times, the Pac-12 Network is impossible to find if you don’t use Sling TV and ESPN has allegiance to both the ACC and the SEC. They need to figure out what to do with the TV deal asap.
  6.  They have got to get funding back into the schools. It’s unthinkable that a school like Stanford had to cut numerous athletic programs last year because they were strapped for cash. You would never see an SEC school doing that and now it’s time that these campuses are funded for the future and they can guarantee sports that were cut.

The Pac-12 has been in bad shape for a long time but a new era will begin soon and we all have to hope for the best. It’s been a rough time to be a fan of the Conference of Champions but hopefully soon enough we can actually call it that again.