Trojan Tremors, Costly Costume
One of Larry Scott’s first accomplishments as Pac-12 commissioner was getting all the teams in the league to agree to an equal distribution of conference media revenues.
Previously, USC and UCLA got a bigger share of the pie, ostensibly because they were housed in the desirable Los Angeles TV market—thereby delivering a bigger audience to the TV networks—and also because they tended to win a lot of football and basketball games.
As readers of this blog know, I’m no fan of Scott’s—quite the opposite—but his ability to get the Trojans and Bruins to agree to paycheck parity was a diplomatic coup.
That’s why last week’s comments from new USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn sent shock waves throughout the conference.
In an interview with a 247 Sports, Bohn said "everything is on the table" in terms of increasing revenue for his school, including becoming an independent, moving to another conference, or asking for a bigger piece of the conference’s TV rights.
Bohn bemoaned the Pac-12’s revenue deficiency and argued that the LA market and the Trojans' non-conference game with Notre Dame provided unique value.
"We all know that the Pac-12 media rights deal has not met our expectations and we are falling drastically behind," Bohn said. "Just from 2018 numbers, we're $11 million per year, per institution, shy of the average remaining four Power Five conferences. So that's a gap that is a serious competitive disadvantage for us.
"This is something that we really have to spend a lot more time on and ensure that we can find some solutions because we are closer to the American Athletic Conference in the distributions than we are to the SEC and Big Ten,” he added.
Then this: "It's really simple, you think of the LA market and the value to the league there, obviously our ongoing series with Notre Dame, our marquee games that we commit to in non-conference, it's important for us to continue to be leaders in the Pac-12. It's important for us to operate from a place of strength.”
As everyone in the Bay Area, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Utah and Colorado held their breath, Bohn attempted to " clarify" his statements a few days later in an interview with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.
But he just made things worse.
Multiple times, Bohn told Dodd that USC isn’t looking to leave the Pac 12, but he wouldn’t rule it out.
"The answer is no," Bohn told Dodd. "Why would we do that? We've got 21 sports here. You know the drill. There would be no way for us to do that.
"Now, that being said, if the unexpected happened and NBC said, 'Hey we want to partner you guys with Notre Dame'…then that's different.'"
"There's no talk of leaving, but guess what? If it was on the table, we would certainly explore that," Bohn told Dodd. "But I've got to be careful. The league is really tender.”
It just got more “tender.”
Around the country, the conference used to be referred to as “USC and the nine (later 11) dwarfs.” The Trojans’ struggles on the field since Pete Carroll’s departure—and the rise in the fortunes of Oregon, Washington, Utah and Stanford—have altered that unflattering description to some extent, but the conference still lacks a consistent top 10 team.
It’s no secret that the College Football Playoff folks and the television networks would love to see a true powerhouse on the West Coast that could consistently challenge for the national championship along with the Alabamas, Clemsons, LSUs, Ohio States and Oklahomas of the world.
If USC were to bolt the conference for Notre Dame-type independent status—along with the TV riches that go along with it—the Pac-12’s recent decline would become fatal.
Or if the Trojans put a gun to Scott’s head and demanded a bigger share of the conference’s revenues, what would he and the Pac-12 presidents do?
This could get interesting…
Deontay’s Demise: I haven’t paid much attention to boxing since the days of Muhammad Ali, and before that, Floyd Patterson, but last week’s heavyweight championship match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was one for the ages. Not for the fight itself, mind you, but for the loser’s novel excuse for getting beaten.
Fury and Wilder met previously in a controversial match that ended in a split draw. The rematch was widely promoted and anticipated. But Fury pummeled Wilder all night, knocking him down twice before the fight ended in a round seven TKO.
Afterward, Wilder blamed his loss on the 40-pound warrior costume he wore in his walkup to the ring. Seriously.
“He didn’t hurt me at all,” Wilder claimed, “but the simple fact is the uniform was way too heavy for me. I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. In the third round (when the first knockdown occurred), my legs were just shot all the way through. But I’m a warrior and people know that I’m a warrior.”
Unfortunately, dressing like a warrior might’ve caused the first CKO (costume knockout) in boxing history.