Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

One man’s bold is another’s financial opportunity.

Pac-12’s gonna Pac-12, y’all.

We know Scott likes bold. He went bold trying to form the Pac-16. He went bold with the $3 billion Tier 1 deal with ESPN and Fox. He went bold with 100 percent ownership in the Pac-12 Networks.

Bold works when it’s the right bold, not when it’s the wrong bold.

The conference made a wrong turn with its business model for the networks: 100 percent ownership, 850 live events and six regional networks created supply that exceeded demand — and not nearly enough viewership or revenue.

Which is why the conference is seeking a cash infusion in the first place.

A Hotline source told me recently that athletic department officials are concerned campus executives will view the cash provided by an equity partner — perhaps as much as $60 million per school — as a chance to eliminate debt.

That those responsible for balancing the books will hijack the process, leaving the athletic departments with nothing left for long-haul resource investment.

They would be right back where they are now, except with an outside entity sharing in their media revenue.

(Over the course of decades, the money lost by splitting the pie 13 ways instead of 12 would quickly erase the initial windfall.)

“It can’t be about helping our budgets,’’ the source said. “It has to be about helping us compete.”

If debt elimination is the end-game … if that’s the other end of this wormhole … the conference will be much worse off than it is now.

But the schools’ books will be sounder.  And isn’t it their money and their choice on how to spend it?

I’m not trying to argue who’s right and who’s wrong here.  It’s clear, though, that this is a bunch that’s never been on the same page with the guy they brought in to be bold.  That’s how you get to a point like this.  Given their track record, what are the odds that whatever choice they eventually make works?

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3 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

You get what they pay for.

From Mandel’s Mailbag ($$), about the next round of conference realignment:

If there’s another big round of shuffling, it will likely come somewhere in the 2023-26 range. Several major TV contracts will come up for bid in short succession, starting with the Big Ten (2023), followed by the Pac-12 (2024), Big 12 (2025) and, perhaps most significantly, the College Football Playoff (2025). Don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Big Ten opted for shorter-than-usual six-year deals with ESPN and FOX in its last round of negotiations. Or that the Pac-12 recently turned down a tempting offer from ESPN to take over distribution for the long-struggling Pac-12 Networks that would have locked in its Tier 1 rights “well into the 2030s.”

Most people in the business believe there could be some sort of major shakeup around the time of that aforementioned window. But nobody has any idea what that might be, in large part because the TV rights climate is changing so rapidly.

Got that?  When realignment comes — again — it won’t be a matter of what’s best for the sport.  It’ll be a matter of what’s best for the conferences’ bank accounts.

College football doesn’t need a commissioner.  Just outsource the job to the head of ESPN and eliminate the middleman.

15 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Some blunt advice about what the XFL can take away from the AAF’s early demise:

The XFL would be better off shutting things down now and just accepting that a second pro football league will NEVER work.

The XFL 2.0, like the AAF and the original XFL before it, is destined to fail. It does not matter how well things are planned out, there just isn’t a demand for a second professional sports league of any kind — regardless of the sport. The NFL, along with college football, is more than enough for football fans.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last fifty years, is that there’s not enough of an appetite for spring football to support a professional league.

I tried to snark about that yesterday when I noted that the AAF’s death was good news for the NCAA and schools, but I’m not sure everyone got my point.  So let’s try that another way:  for those of you who claim it should be easy to provide high school football players who don’t want to go the college route with a professional outlet, how’s that working out for you now?

20 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“There will always be disagreement on decisions I make as the athletic director.”

For some reason, Southern Cal decided it was important for Lynn Swann to make an official statement in response to that LA Times article about his trip east to sign autographs.

In regards to today’s story about me in the Los Angeles Times, the article would have you believe that I traveled to sign autographs with no concern for what is going on at USC. Nothing could be further from the truth.  While on this brief weekend trip back East, I was constantly connected with people at our university.  Also, as a matter of principle, I live up to my commitments and contractual obligations.  I signed a contract months ago to appear at the event, well before news broke of what is going on at USC now.  Not showing up would have been a breach of contract.

Calling this a principled business decision!  The First Rule of Holes must not have made it to the West Coast.

The former USC player quoted in the article may not have understood these details.

Details, schmetails

For former USC linebacker Riki Ellison, images of Swann’s appearance that subsequently were posted on social media raised a question: During a time of crisis for the school’s athletic department, why would the person in charge be all the way across the country just to pocket a few extra bucks?

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ellison, a member of USC’s 1978 national co-championship team who runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a Virginia-based nonprofit. “Lynn’s a good guy, but isn’t his salary in the millions? Why does he need to do this? It’s just embarrassing.”

… Organizers for the Virginia show declined to disclose Swann’s appearance fee. Ben Litvin, a talent and marketing agent who show organizers said managed Swann’s booking for the show — and also has worked with Heisman Trophy winners, including O.J. Simpson — declined an interview request.

Celebrity booking websites list Swann’s appearance rate for motivational speeches and corporate meet-and-greets as ranging between $20,000 and $50,000.

“My understanding for these shows is that the athletes get paid by the promoter in a lump sum, and then the promoter decides what to charge for the autographs,” said Bert Lehman, editor of the Sports Collectors Digest.

Nah, I’d say he’s got a pretty good grasp of the situation, Lynn.  But at least you’ve got your principles.

2 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

So much for that option

Turns out that start-a-new-pro-league shit is hard, man.

Bad news for Spurdog (although he no longer has a conflict with Masters week!).  Good news for the NCAA.

18 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

The worst AD in college athletics?

Amazing.

Back in Los Angeles, the struggling football program was holding a spring scrimmage. The disappointing men’s basketball team was sitting out March Madness. The athletic department was coping with the ongoing fallout from the college admissions bribery scandal that already has resulted in the indictments and subsequent firings of the school’s water polo coach and a senior administrator. And trustees and senior leaders were discussing university governance issues at a retreat in nearby Santa Barbara.

Meanwhile, USC athletic director Lynn Swann was more than 2,600 miles away, signing autographs for money.

Along with Randy Moss, Emmitt Smith and the actor who played the unmasked variation of mass murderer Jason Voorhees in the horror film “Friday the 13th Part 2,” Swann was among more than a dozen sports and entertainment celebrities who appeared Saturday at a memorabilia show held in the suburbs of the nation’s capital.

Dressed in black, Swann sat behind a folding card table inside a drab, fluorescent-lit exhibition hall for nearly two hours — laughing and smiling, shaking hands and posing for pictures, making small talk and paying extra attention to a toddler in a Pittsburgh Steelers onesie.

Mostly, Swann signed stuff, running his Sharpie across football helmets and jerseys and red seats rescued from Pittsburgh’s demolished Three Rivers Stadium, over and over again, all for fans and collectors who paid $220 and up for the privilege.

That’s like the living embodiment of a “this is fine” meme.

For former USC linebacker Riki Ellison, images of Swann’s appearance that subsequently were posted on social media raised a question: During a time of crisis for the school’s athletic department, why would the person in charge be all the way across the country just to pocket a few extra bucks?

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ellison, a member of USC’s 1978 national co-championship team who runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a Virginia-based nonprofit. “Lynn’s a good guy, but isn’t his salary in the millions? Why does he need to do this? It’s just embarrassing.”

If Lynn Swann didn’t exist, Greg McGarity would have to invent him.

25 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

The difference a couple of months make

Dear Senator,

When it comes to player compensation, I don’t understand how this market thing works.  Can you give me an example?

Sincerely,

An amateurism romantic

Dear Romantic,

Here you go.

Sincerely,

SB

PS — It’s not rocket science.

15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA