It’s always heartwarming to see the focus schools and conferences bring to their primary mission:
academics their revenue streams.
Category Archives: Pac-12 Football
It’s always heartwarming to see the focus schools and conferences bring to their primary mission:
In a move that sounds straight out of Butts-Mehre, the Pac-12 voted not to send any conference team that finished with a 5-7 regular season to a bowl game. Super genius Larry Scott explains.
“In requiring a minimum of six regular season wins our goal is to support the significance of the bowl season and provide our fans around the country with the most exciting games featuring our leading Pac-12 teams.”
I would think that any bowl game featuring a 5-7 team by definition isn’t significant, Larry, but, then again, I don’t have your bank account, so what do I know?
That being said, this seems like a meaningless gesture that, as usual, allows administrators to puff their chests out while denying kids a fun postseason. Leave it to Mike Leach to deflate the balloon.
Washington State coach Mike Leach called the conference’s policy, which is in effect for this season, “a solution searching for a problem.”
“If we had a 5-7 team lucky enough to make a bowl, they could probably use the practice and the players would probably appreciate the chance to play another game,” Leach said. “Why should we limit opportunities when other conferences aren’t?”
Maybe we should start referring to the Pac-12 Way.
This is one helluva story.
The beginning of one of the biggest Pac-12 football games of last season was preempted by a NASCAR truck race. When it became apparent the Lucas Oil 150 was going to run long, FS1 delayed the Stanford-Washington game by 15 minutes to 10:45 p.m. ET.
It wasn’t enough of a delay. Even though the game was shifted to little-seen FS2 and the Fox Sports app, thanks to the trucks — and Fox’s commitment to them — most viewers missed the entire first quarter.
“That was unfortunate,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said recently. “I was not happy about that. … There were definitely [people] upset about that.”
Scott is proud to say such an occurrence will no longer happen. The Pac-12 was assured by Fox officials a couple of weeks ago that, were there to be a future conflict, conference games will be shifted to … Fox Business Channel.
Man’s a genius.
The header quote, by the way, is from the chancellor of the University of California, one of (presumably) Scott’s bosses. Last time I checked, Larry Scott is still the highest paid conference boss, which means the chancellor is as big a talker as Scott is. Everyone out there deserves each other.
What happens when player safety and coaching strategy clash? Coaches grumble, albeit softly.
The idea behind one of the NCAA’s most controversial rule changes for 2018 — awarding a touchback on any kickoff that’s fair-caught inside the 25-yard line — is to make the game safer. What football coach wouldn’t want that?
But Stanford’s coach doesn’t necessarily like it.
“I don’t mind saying I’m not the biggest fan of the rule,” Shaw said. “I understand and appreciate the purpose and the intent behind it. Anything that is in an effort to make the game safer, I understand and to a certain degree applaud.
“(But) field position is the basis of this game. To fair-catch a ball and automatically move the ball up is difficult for me to take. We probably won’t take advantage of that.”
Of the five Pac-12 coaches interviewed, only one, Washington’s Chris Petersen, is in favor of the change and even he thinks there’s more to come.
The NCAA did not release injury data when it announced its change. The organization did point out the obvious, noting that “fewer injuries occur during kickoffs that result in touchbacks than on kickoffs that are returned.”
“When they do studies, and it’s a higher percentage chance for injury on a certain play, we need to take a hard look at that and figure out how to help that situation,” Petersen said. “I think they have, and I think this is the first step towards it.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. It’s all about making this game safer for the kids. If that’s one of the plays that’s going to help us, it’s a good rule.”
I don’t know how this will play out, but I suspect Petersen’s on the right track to suggest this is but the early stage of an evolutionary development. Similar to things like the way the targeting rule has been enforced, I don’t think we’ve reached the final version of what kickoffs will look like. One thing’s for sure, though — those concussion lawsuits aren’t going away any time soon.
You may not have heard, but the Pac-12 this week trumpeted its latest day at the pay gate.
It’s not something the conference has done in the past and was clearly designed to trumpet the record total ($509 million).
In fact, the second paragraph — all 95 words — highlights the increases in revenue and campus distributions over the past four financial reporting cycles.
My interest, as noted in this insta-reaction column, is less in the total revenue than the campus payouts. The mission of the conference, after all, is to serve the schools. They are the conference.
Since the Pac-12 issued a look-at-our numbers release, which is certainly within its right, that’s exactly what I did:
The crack Hotline research staff compared the Pac-12’s percentage increase in campus distributions to those of the other Power Five conferences.
Sure, the numbers matter on an absolute level, but they also matter on a relative scale:
If the Pac-12’s annual growth rate in campus distributions is 10 percent and the Big Ten and SEC are only increasing their payouts by two percent, that’s an advantage for the Pac-12, right?
Welp, as Wilner says in his very next paragraph, context matters. And context doesn’t look so hot.
The Pac-12 said it has increased the cash sent to its schools by 63 percent over a five-year window.
(In raw dollars, the bookends are the $228 million distributed in FY13 and the $371 million distributed in FY17.)
How does that 63 percent increase compare?
Over the same span, the Big 12 has increased its campus payouts by 69 percent.
The Big Ten has increased its payouts by 79 percent.
The SEC has increased its payouts by, um, 99 percent.
What should we make of that?
Don’t dismiss the nuance: Each conference has its own culture and challenges, its own financial structure and reporting processes.
But it sure appears that the Pac-12 has not performed as well as its peers when it comes to the rate of increase of the dollars sent to the schools.
Go back to what he wrote in that first quote block: “The mission of the conference, after all, is to serve the schools. They are the conference.” Then consider that Larry Scott made more money than any of his conference commissioner peers in fiscal year 2016.
When it comes to money, the people running our universities aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. And some of you wonder where the money to pay student-athletes might come from.
So, what’s the highest paid conference commissioner up to these days? Building a powerhouse TV network, it seems.
Kagan’s research shows that, in addition to its well-documented limited reach (i.e., households), the Pac-12 National network generates a dramatically lower average subscriber fee than the SEC and Big Ten networks.
Perhaps more surprising is that the Pac-12 National’s subscriber fee has dropped over the years — and not by a few cents, either.
It has plunged.
According to Kagan, the Pac-12 National network received an average of $0.30 per subscriber (coast-to-coast) when it was launched in 2012.
That number accounts for the higher fees paid by subscribers inside the conference’s home markets and the lower fees paid by out-of-market subscribers (i.e., viewers from Topeka to Bangor to Miami).
To be clear: That tiered fee structure is standard practice for college networks. The SEC’s subscriber fees are higher in Birmingham than Billings; the Big Ten doesn’t command the same fee in Albuquerque as it does in Ann Arbor.
But here’s where the situation gets interesting.
Kagan’s research listed the average national subscriber fee in five-year increments:
* In 2012, the Big Ten commanded $0.37 per sub, while the Pac-12 National network received $0.30.
* By 2017, the Big Ten’s average sub fee had jumped to $0.48, an increase of 30 percent, while the Pac-12 fee had dropped to $0.11.
That’s right: From $0.30 to $0.11 in the five-year span.
Of the 24 networks listed in the research report that existed in both 2012 and 2017, the Pac-12 Network was one of only four that experienced a drop in sub fees over the span. The others were the Olympic Channel, the Tennis Channel and beIN Sports.
Nifty trick, that.
Now, Wilner goes on to point out that the Pac-12 probably hasn’t lost money in the process. That’s because it’s swapped subscriber fees for subscriber eyeballs. To put it more succinctly,
“They took lower revenue in order to reach more homes,” said Adam Gajo, a Kagan analyst who covers regional sports networks.
This, in a day when demand for televised live sports seems almost bottomless, doesn’t seem like optimal marketing.
But let’s view this hypothetically:
Even if Kagan’s estimates for Pac-12 National are off by 25 percent — a complete whiff — the network would still be generating an average of just $0.14 per sub.
That’s in line with the Tennis Channel and the World Fishing Network but nowhere close to the Big Ten or SEC networks.
To reiterate: The fee drop doesn’t mean the Pac-12 Networks are cratering.
But the Kagan estimates are more evidence of a lagging business … another nugget to help fill in the pixels … to help us gain a slightly better understanding of the finances.
After all, the Pac-12 Networks are a nine-figure annual enterprise owned by 10 public (and two private) universities.
If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes to run a P5 conference, Larry Scott is here to tell you not to sell yourself short.
Note that term of art is missing from Arizona State’s AD’s comment.
Maybe we should start referring to him as the school’s GM.
I keep saying it, but how can Larry Scott and Mark Emmert not be having shit fits over the message these guys have no problem sending?