Category Archives: Pac-12 Football

Thank you for supporting our shitty business model.

And the beat goes on…

Screenshot_2020-08-06 Steve Berkowitz on Twitter Alabama board approves contract for Steve Sarkisian that will increase his[...]

Meanwhile, Wisconsin joins the ranks of Clemson in asking donors to become part of something larger than themselves.

The Wisconsin Badgers are facing a critical financial challenge but we remain committed to our mission of achieving long–term excellence. If the football season is canceled, we are facing a revenue shortfall in excess of $100 million. In the best-case scenario where we’re able to complete a conference–only schedule with limited capacity at home games, we still stand to lose $60–70 million in revenue. Without financial support from our community, the experience we love as Badgers is at risk.

In order to emerge stronger than ever, we are calling our fellow Badgers, who have helped build this extraordinary legacy.

The Badger Legacy campaign aims to do just that: provide an opportunity for all Badgers to play a role in furthering the legacy of Wisconsin Athletics that has been built over many decades. We want to ensure we continue raising trophies, developing student–athletes that make us proud and we keep the world watching when we Jump Around.

… To directly fund our student–athlete services during these challenging times, we are providing season ticket holders the opportunity to reinvest their ticket and seat donation contributions. These resources will go specifically to support scholarships, training and a range of academic and athletic support services for the student–athletes we cheer every game day.

Do it for the kids, yadda, yadda, yadda.  It’s evergreen bullshit.

Meanwhile, Larry Scott is busy propping up his conference’s finances.

The Pac-12 is planning a mammoth loan program that would provide an escape hatch for cash-strapped athletic departments in the event the football season is canceled because of coronavirus, according to internal documents and conference sources.

Football accounts for the majority of each department’s revenue, generating in excess of $50 million dollars in ticket sales and media rights alone.

The loan program would be large enough to cover that loss for each school, if needed:

According to a series of emails obtained by the Hotline through public records requests, the loan would provide a maximum of $83 million for each university at a rate of 3.75 percent over 10 years.

Each athletic department could decide whether it wanted to participate in the program.

If all 12 opted for the maximum amount, the total would be $996 million.

“The conference is trying to be nimble and give schools some options,’’ a source said.

The collateral for the loan is future television revenues.

The point isn’t to mock Scott for doing this — hell, it’s good business to save what you can for a better day — but to point out that, at least for P5 programs, the apocalypse probably isn’t upon us.  And by that I mean the business model that they love isn’t going the way of the dodo any time soon.  Not as long as they’re willing to do it for the kids, anyway.

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

“The season is creeping up on us and we have no answers.”

The #WeAreUnited players can’t get a meeting with Larry Scott, but the California governor’s office has time for them.

A group of Pac-12 football players with the #WeAreUnited movement met with officials from the California governor’s office Tuesday to discuss concerns about their schools’ COVID-19 protocols and protecting their college eligibility.

The players hope an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom could mandate player-approved, third-party oversight of COVID-19 rules at the Pac-12’s four California schools and ensure players who opt out of the coming season because of the coronavirus won’t lose a year of eligibility.

The Pac-12 has said players who opt out will stay on scholarship this season, but whether college athletes would be allowed to preserve their eligibility in that situation is undetermined.

Given its track record, it’s probably not the smartest strategy to let California drive the bus here, but Larry’s gonna work that stall as long as he can.

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Filed under Pac-12 Football, Political Wankery

Fellas, I’ll get right back to you.

This, my friends, is why they pay Larry Scott the big bucks.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is open to holding dialogue with a group of league football players who are threatening to boycott the 2020 football season, according to a letter that Scott sent the group Monday. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the two-page letter, which Scott wrote in response to the #WeAreUnited campaign’s letter Sunday.

Pac-12 officials are reviewing #WeAreUnited’s list of demands and documents, Scott says in the 1,400-word response, sent at 7 p.m. ET Monday. “We are eager to hear more about your concerns and very happy to discuss,” Scott writes. “I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised.”

He is open.  Eager, even.  But not quite yet ready to meet.  Surprisingly, the players aren’t grabbing Larry’s peace offering.

Hours after receiving a response from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that indicated he was eager to hear more about their concerns and would find a convenient time to speak later this week, leaders from the Pac-12’s #WeAreUnited campaign responded late Monday night asking for more immediate action.

“While we appreciate the response, we are looking to move on a faster timeline than you have proposed,” an email approved by the group’s leadership, and obtained by ESPN, said. “We are two weeks from fall camp and would like to work to come to a resolution so that we can play this season. Every day that we don’t have discussions puts players at additional risk of COVID.”

… In a letter to Scott and the Pac-12 athletic directors dated Aug. 2, and obtained by ESPN, the group asked for daily video meetings with Scott, the athletic directors and the player representatives to begin Monday at 8 p.m. PT, but that meeting was not granted.

Where’s the fire, kids?  After all, the health of athletes is the league’s “No. 1 priority,” Scott wrote.  That ought to keep you safe while the bucks roll in.

I’m really looking forward to watching how long Scott can stall this.

3 Comments

Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football

Well, yeah, that’s what I said. But **this** is what I meant.

Random mouth noises from a guy who realizes he shot his recruiting in the foot.

Screenshot_2020-08-04 Brett McMurphy on Twitter Statement from WSU coach ⁦ NickRolovich⁩ https t co s0m0ucWSE2 Twitter

“Without knowing the concerns of the group…” — sure, brother.  As I alluded to yesterday, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Meanwhile, Rolovich’s athletic director gamely tries to close the barn door after the horse departed.

Screenshot_2020-08-04 Jonah Javad on Twitter Most significant part of Rolovich statement is last line noting student-athlet[...]

That might have been a handy thing to have in place before your coach botched things, Pat.  Not that it would have excused the rest of his dumbassery.

Not that I don’t feel a little sorry for the guy.  Who would want to get caught in the crossfire of a hold my beer contest between Leach and Rolovich?

6 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football

Whither #WeAreUnited?

Andy Staples ($$) makes a good point that the Pac-12 players threatening a strike have done a poor job timing it.

What’s interesting is that now isn’t the ideal time to make these demands. This time last year was. College administrators understand there may be no way to safely play a season this year — even if the players completely agreed on everything — so they’re already making contingency plans for the possibility of a year without football. Those plans are unpleasant and involve a lot of furloughs and layoffs, so the administrators are still motivated to play this season. So they should be willing to listen to the players. But they probably aren’t as willing as they would be if this came out of the blue during a year when the money train was otherwise rolling merrily along.

I would say in response, though, some of that depends on which of their demands they’re willing to go to the wall for in the short run.  Their NIL stance aside, asking for coaches and administrators to take steep pay cuts and for the conference to share half its revenues with players are both non-starters and I have to believe the players know that.

Some of the other stuff, though, resonates.  Here’s what one of the instigators said about what motivated him ($$):

Cal offensive lineman Jake Curhan already had concerns about playing college football during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then he read a June 30 CBS Sports article in which a University of Illinois computer science professor predicted that 30-50 percent of the nation’s FBS players would get infected with COVID-19 this season — and that three to seven players would die.

“That’s not something that made me concerned for myself,” Curhan told The Athletic on Sunday. “I just know how frustrated I would have been had I seen any conference or team statement about it offering condolences, where they may very well have had access to these same studies and more. That was the moment when I said, OK, I needed to talk to some of my teammates.”

COVID is college football’s fault line, as Staples says here:

… Power 5 college football is the only major American sport trying to get back to playing that has no real mechanism for negotiating with players. Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL couldn’t create plans to restart during the pandemic without each respective players union’s approval. The college players understandably would like a say in how their sport comes back. Second, the pandemic has laid bare exactly how much money rides on a football season in the Power 5 conferences. The players aren’t stupid. They know their schools need them more than they need their schools at the moment.

How this plays out is anybody’s guess.  The players may have leverage, but they have no experience using it.  They may push for the wrong things.  Many of their peers are going to have a difference of opinion about the goals and methods to achieve them.

The players aren’t paid, most players aren’t pro prospects, and the top ones will get drafted anyway. The only people with a long-term financial stake in the season being played by are marginal pro prospects, and even they have to trade off the extra year of scouting/development with the risk of injury compounded by exposure to a deadly virus.

As Curhan put it,

“Personally, to me, (sitting out) is a no-brainer,” said Curhan. “This is a lot bigger than me. I’m lucky to be where I’m from. If football got taken away from me, I’d be able to land on my feet. The reason I feel it’s necessary is for my teammates and future generations that might not be OK if they had scholarships taken away, or their hopes of playing professionally got taken away.”

And so, for every Trevor Lawrence, there’s a Lamonte McDougle.  For every Jake Curhan, there’s a Jake Bentley.

Where does it go from here?  Hard to say.  Do they overplay their hand or take their winnings off the table when they have the chance?  They’ve clearly started a national conversation, and as Staples notes, there’s plenty they’re asking for that doesn’t amount to a big reach.

If they’re sensible and in sufficient numbers, college athletic administrators are going to be forced to deal with them.  Some of you would no doubt find it emotionally satisfying to let them walk, but there’s no way the schools can get a season underway in a matter of a few weeks with a wide scale infusion of walk on players.

Overreach — which some would also find emotionally satisfying — and it’s likely the whole thing fizzles before it ever gets started.  Is #WeAreUnited savvy enough to pick the fights it can win?  We’ll soon see.

48 Comments

Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football

#WeAreUnited at Wazzou?

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on at Washington State?

A Washington State football player said his status on the team was threatened by the head coach because the player is part of a group of Pac-12 Conference athletes threatening to sit out this season unless demands for “fair treatment’’ are met.

… Woods said Rolovich told him his scholarship will be honored, and the Pac-12 statement Sunday reiterated that any athlete who decides not to compete this year because of health or safety reasons will have their scholarship protected.

The Pac-12 has guaranteed four-year scholarships since 2015.

The conversation between Woods and his coach took place Saturday, according to Woods, who said he called Rolovich to inform him he had decided against playing this season because of concerns related to COVID-19. Woods said he has sickle cell anemia and is afraid that will put him at greater risk of getting COVID-19, especially if he’s traveling to football games.

After he explained his decision to Rolovich, Woods said, the coach said he could accept that but then asked Woods if he were part of the Pac-12 athletes group. Woods said he acknowledged he was and Rolovich made it clear that remaining aligned with a group of athletes threatening to sit out over issues that include compensation and social justice would jeopardize his future with the team.

Woods told USA TODAY Sports he was ready to sacrifice for the group’s cause.

“Change has to be made,’’ Woods said. “This stuff has been going on for way too long. There’s no greater opportunity than doing it now.”

Lamonte McDougle, a red-shirt junior defensive end, said Rolovich had no objections to McDougle being part of the athletes group after he vowed to play regardless of whether the groups’ demands are met. Based on McDougle’s understanding, he said, no one has officially been kicked off the team.

“Officially” may be doing some heavy lifting there, at least judging from this tweet from Woods’ mom.

Screenshot_2020-08-03 Jerline Woods on Twitter TheoLawson_SR This is a BOLDFACED LIE Multiple players cut and told to clean[...]

Jon Wilner, who does a stellar job covering Pac-12 football makes an excellent point.

Screenshot_2020-08-03 Jon Wilner on Twitter my speculation Of course #WSU told Woods to clear out his locker ASAP after he [...]

Except somebody has the receipt from Rolovich’s mouth.

Screenshot_2020-08-03 RedditCFB on Twitter The audio of WSU HC Nick Rolovich’s call with WR Kassidy Woods has been released[...]

Yeesh.  It’s already hard enough to recruit to Washington State.  Rolovich isn’t making his life easier with comments like that.  And it wasn’t even necessary — the kid’s sitting out for health issues, so let him sit.

I expect some sort of awkward explanation is coming, but you know what they say about when you’re explaining.

4 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football

I have not come to bury Larry Scott.

Aw, screw it.  I have come to bury Larry Scott.

Screenshot_2020-08-03 George Wrighster III on Twitter Why does the PAC-12 have the highest paid commissioner by far, lowest[...]

There’s a part of me that’s amazed Scott is still gainfully employed.  There’s another part of me that thinks every other P5 commissioner is grateful Scott exists.

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Filed under Pac-12 Football

Today, in just sayin’

This comes from a member of Congress:

46 Comments

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

#WeAreUnited

In light of the P5 putting the squeeze on the NCAA to do its bidding to give it cover for playing a football season, the timing of this is delicious.

A group of Pac-12 football players from multiple schools is threatening to opt out of both preseason camps and games until its negotiations with the league regarding concerns about racial injustice, their safety during the coronavirus pandemic and other demands are completed.

A text message obtained by ESPN says the group’s goal is to “obtain a written contract with the Pac- 12 that legally ensures we are offered the following protections and benefits.”

A contract?  I only wish Jim Delany were still around to see it.

They published their terms today.  It’s quite the to-do list.

Pac-12 Football Unity Demands

To Protect and Benefit Both Scholarship and Walk-On Athletes

I. Health & Safety Protections

COVID-19 Protections

  1. Allow option not to play during the pandemic without losing athletics eligibility or spot on our team’s roster.
  2. Prohibit/void COVID-19 agreements that waive liability.

Mandatory Safety Standards, Including COVID-19 Measures

  1. Player-approved health and safety standards enforced by a third party selected by players to address COVID-19, as well as serious injury, abuse and death.

II. Protect All Sports

Preserve All Existing Sports by Eliminating Excessive Expenditures

  1. Larry Scott, administrators, and coaches to voluntarily and drastically reduce excessive pay.
  2. End performance/academic bonuses.
  3. End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.*

*As an example, Stanford University should reinstate all sports discontinued by tapping into their $27.7 billion endowment.

III. End Racial Injustice in College Sports and Society

  1. Form a permanent civic-engagement task force made up of our leaders, experts of our choice, and university and conference administrators to address outstanding issues such as racial injustice in college sports and in society.
  2. In partnership with the Pac-12, 2% of conference revenue would be directed by players to support financial aid for low-income Black students, community initiatives, and development programs for college athletes on each campus.
  3. Form annual Pac-12 Black College Athlete Summit with guaranteed representation of at least three athletes of our choice from every school.

IV. Economic Freedom and Equity

Guaranteed Medical Expense Coverage

  1. Medical insurance selected by players for sports-related medical conditions, including COVID- 19 illness, to cover six years after college athletics eligibility ends.

Name, Image, and Likeness Rights & Representation

  1. The freedom to secure representation, receive basic necessities from any third party, and earn money for use of our name, image, and likeness rights.

Fair Market Pay, Rights, & Freedoms

  1. Distribute 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue evenly among athletes in their respective sports.
  2. Six-year athletic scholarships to foster undergraduate and graduate degree completion.
  3. Elimination of all policies and practices restricting or deterring our freedom of speech, our ability to fully participate in charitable work, and our freedom to participate in campus activities outside of mandatory athletics participation.
  4. Ability of players of all sports to transfer one time without punishment, and additionally in cases of abuse or serious negligence.
  5. Ability to complete eligibility after participating in a pro draft if player goes undrafted and foregoes professional participation within seven days of the draft.
  6. Due process rights.

Especially in a time of pandemic, I doubt that 50% of conference revenue demand will get any traction, but there’s plenty there that college football should have already ponied up for the players.

And asking Larry Scott to “drastically reduce excessive pay” is pure **chef’s kiss**.

The players do have leverage at the moment, because it’s obvious the P5 conferences need football revenue.  Their threat is pretty straightforward.

Due to COVID-19 and other serious concerns, we will opt-out of Pac-12 fall camp and game participation unless the following demands are guaranteed in writing by our conference to protect and benefit both scholarship athletes and walk-ons.

They’ve also asked players from other conferences to join their cause.  I imagine there are a few bricks being shat this morning by Scott’s and the Pac-12 presidents’ peers.

I have no idea where this goes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the people running the sport won’t eventually regret negotiating a players’ union on more friendly terms when they were presented with the opportunity at Northwestern.  Because that’s the way they roll.

**********************************************************************

UPDATE:  More here.

“The way to affect change and to get your voice heard is to affect the bottom line,” Daltoso said. “Guys realize the moment and are standing together in unity throughout this whole thing. This is bigger than our individual selves. This is for all future college athletes.”

“If you look at history throughout this country, there hasn’t been change without ruffling feathers,” Guidry adds. “Not everybody is going to want change because otherwise it would have happened already. People are going to have strong opinions. You wish you could talk to everybody and have a civil conversation and broaden their perspective. You have to do what you know is the right thing.”

101 Comments

Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football

‘Is there anyone we can pay to write positive stories?’

Larry Scott, media genius, at work.

The Pac-12 Conference had a publicity problem.

The conference was in deep distress in 2018. It was drowning in negative sentiment after an embarrassing instant-replay scandal in college football. The Pac-12′s basketball programs were coming off a winless showing in the men’s NCAA Tournament. And commissioner Larry Scott’s prized Pac-12 Network was stuck in distribution purgatory, still unavailable to large swaths of frustrated fans.

Said one longtime Pac-12 staffer: “We were incredibly desperate.”

The Pac-12 hired a high-profile crisis-management firm. The conference began working from a 34-page printed manual The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in 2019 — a playbook that directed the conference to “seek to identify positive voices that could shift the conversation.”

That plan further instructed the conference to “expand upon media partnerships” with two primary media platforms — the Los Angeles Times and The Players’ Tribune. According to emails and other documents, the conference struck a deal in 2018 with the Los Angeles Times that aimed to steer $100,000 in advertising to the newspaper in exchange for an expansion in conference coverage…

The Oregonian/OregonLive has obtained internal communications from both the Pac-12 and Los Angeles Times that reveal new details of the partnership. The Pac-12, which long denied there was a formalized agreement, for the first time now acknowledges it signed a contract to provide advertising revenue to The Times.

We interviewed more than a dozen insiders over the last 18 months, including Times president Chris Argentieri and executive editor Norman Pearlstine, who reached out early in the investigation expressing a desire to tell his side of the story.

Said Pearlstine a year ago: “Don’t let the Pac-12 speak for me.”

Pearlstine is now declining comment.

Emails, memos, and a human resources grievance show how the Pac-12 promised special access for the LA Times reporter and how the partnership set off alarm bells inside the news organization.

Unbelievable?  No.  Shameful?  Yes.  Especially you, LA Times.

9 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Pac-12 Football