If Larry Scott actually had a set…

It’s funny, but this exact same thought posted at The Banner Society crossed my mind when I read Jon Wilner’s piece about the Pac-12’s severe revenue gap with the SEC:

We got here because Larry Scott considers himself an innovator who sees non-traditional angles. And Scott should lean even harder into that now to give the conference an advantage greater than all that television money the SEC and Big Ten are about to soak up: The Pac-12 should reverse course and fully embrace California’s new name, image, and likeness law.

Let’s say Scott gets the schools on board and convinces the state governments of Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah to fast-track legislation mimicking California’s. The Pac-12 gets to put on its best forward-thinking face and proclaim they’re the conference that puts athletes first, the vanguard bold enough to abandon the old, unfair model of amateurism.

They also give their schools a powerful recruiting weapon the rest of the Power 5 won’t have: the promise of actual, legal money. Sure, indoor practice facilities and fancy dining halls are great. But they’re not money! Five of the 10 best players in California this recruiting cycle committed to schools outside the Pac-12. Doesn’t it seem more likely they’d stay in the conference given the chance to make money off themselves right away?

The best thing about this recruiting tool: it costs schools almost nothing. Yes, there will be some administrative oversight required to make sure players are staying within the bounds of California’s law, but the actual money these would get wouldn’t come from an athletic department budget. It takes the revenue gap the Pac-12 is staring down and gives schools an increased ability to compete with their SEC and Big Ten counterparts without forcing the conference to find new revenue.

As far as NCAA objections go, Ryan Nanni goes on to point out there’s a lot of intertwining that would be difficult to unwind quickly… or maybe even at all.

No, the NCAA’s not going to like it. But the Pac-12 should paint the Association into a corner. Eight Power 5 schools have a non-conference game with the Pac-12 in 2020. Many more will want to schedule Pac-12 teams in basketball. The men’s and women’s basketball tournaments regularly feature a regional played on the West Coast. The Rose Bowl insists they must play on New Year’s Day, even if that screws the Playoff schedule up, so imagine how they’ll react when you tell them they don’t get a Pac-12 participant. Six other bowls have a deal securing them a Pac-12 participant. And then there’s the fact that all of these games are tied to … lucrative TV contracts.

No, it’s not gonna happen, not because it wouldn’t work, but because Larry Scott isn’t the bold genius he’s convinced his school presidents he is.  Too bad; as a strategy, it certainly beats selling a piece of your conference off to a hedge fund.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “If Larry Scott actually had a set…

  1. 79Dawg

    Wouldn’t the NCAA just kick them all out, and they could play by their lonesome? The notion that West Coast schools’ participation in big time college athletics is sacrosanct is kind of ridiculous. Anyone think the other conferences won’t line up to take spots in the bowl games or the NCAA tournament? (No doubt the tv networks and bowl games would want to shrink the pie, but frankly, it probably wouldn’t be too much of a hit). So the Rose Bowl play hardball, so what? Working out logistics for 8 teams whose games would be off the schedule – likely doable, with maybe a little pain.
    The Pac-12 needs the other P-4 leagues (represented in this case by the NCAA bogeyman) a lot more than they need the Pac-12, IMO…

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    • It’s not a question of being sacrosanct, but of practicality.

      Since we’ve never seen the NCAA boot out an entire P% conference before, I think it’s rather hard to assume it would turn out to be as straightforward as you surmise.

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  2. ASEF

    NIL needs to happen, but is it really the game changer pundits make it out to be?

    Colorado, Utah, and all the schools not named UCLA and USC would have nothing to do with it until someone showed them how it would not give those two schools even more of a built-in edge in recruiting. The fact those two schools continue to squander that edge in spectacular fashion doesn’t really change that perception. In fact, it scuttles the other potential angle Scott might take on that argument, which is that a resurgent LA school on the national stage could be the tide that lifts all their financial boats.

    And if you’re one of the blue chips Kirby signed out of the P12 footprint, isn’t that a pretty easy one for Kirby to counter? Playing for a tree falling in a P12 forest isn’t going to put any real money in your pocket, and is it really worth rolling the dice on your NFL dreams to do so?

    NIL is going seriously monetize only few headline names every season, and while that’s not exactly lottery level luck, it’s still random and isolated enough that a 5 star OL or ILB is going to have a hard time envisioning themselves getting rich off it – especially if they’re headed to play for a conference with some of the smallest stadiums, lowest attendance, and least viewership of the P5 conferences.

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  3. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas will have NIL legislation in place if any of this picks up steam. Likely the same for Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri.

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  4. Texas Dawg

    No matter what your thoughts are on NIL, if it were to become a reality across the whole of the PAC12 do you thing the SEC sits on it’s hands? The legislatures in those stated would have it in place AND roaring down the road at 100+ across SEC land before the PAC12 could get the car in gear. Money talks, and in SEC land it is yelling at full volume with new TV deal on the way.

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  5. 81Dog

    I dont know if the pie is still expanding, but if you have to divide it among schools and players with NIL, the cost to the schools would seem to be a factor. Instead of getting ALL the college licensing money, they’re only getting a smaller share of it. Right?

    not arguing fairness/unfairness, just numbers. Basic economics teaches you that nothing is ” cost free”

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