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BIG Bonanza; Pac-12 On Deck; NFL's Shame

The Big Ten has announced a new seven-year media deal commencing in 2023 that will generate over $8 billion in revenue for the conference's schools. The richest TV agreement in the history of college sports includes $500 million from Fox/FSI and $350 million each from CBS and NBC.

With football games appearing on three major networks in three marquee windows, the conference hit the jackpot in terms of both revenue and exposure.

Each Saturday during the football season, the BIG will have three national windows, a 12:00 (Eastern) game on Fox, a 3:30 game on CBS and a 7:30 game on NBC (plus an additional eight games streamed on Peacock). CBS will do seven Big Ten games this year, while still carrying SEC games, then increase to 15 in 2024 when USC and UCLA join the league and its SEC obligations expire.

The new deal will provide each Big Ten school with an average of approximately $75 million per year, supplemented by the revenues from the BTN (Big Ten Network), bowl payouts and NCAA Basketball Tournament appearances. (The deal is back-loaded, so school revenues will be less than $75M in 2023, but more in the later years of the agreement).

Next Up—The Pac-12: Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who just last month was being celebrated for his successful first year following the incompetent and officious Larry Scott, now has his biggest challenge—negotiating a TV deal after losing his two biggest assets.

Without the two LA schools (starting in 2024), the Pac-12 will have no drawing card in the nation’s No. 2 market, and its media value will plummet accordingly.

ESPN is no longer a part of the Big Ten media group, so by default it will be the Pac-12’s primary network. Fox, NBC, and CBS have cast their lots with the SEC and Big Ten, so they will not be bidding on the Pac-12.

That’s good news and bad news for the conference. ESPN needs the Pac-12 to fill programming windows, but the Pac-12 needs ESPN even more.

I’d anticipate a deal in the neighborhood of $300-400 million per year, perhaps supplemented by a streaming agreement with Apple or Amazon.

Which means that Pac-12 schools will net less than half of what each Big Ten school takes in.

Regents Stymied: With the announcement of the Big Ten deal, any chance the UC Regents will try to stop UCLA from moving from the Pac-12 has been eliminated, given the potential for breach of contract litigation and significant damages.

The Regents may try to save face by asking UCLA to compensate Cal for diminishing the value of the Pac-12 media contract and, by extension, the payouts to each school.

Experts who testified at the Board hearing last week estimated that the value UCLA brings to the Pac-12 media rights is approximately $3 million per school, so it might give the Regents an excuse to ask the Bruins to ship $3M annually to the Golden Bears.

They can afford it.

Empty Seats: We went to last Thursday's Giants’ game vs. Arizona and ace Logan Webb had an uncharacteristically off day, yielding four runs in four-plus innings in a 5-0 loss.

The team drew an announced total of 90,437 for the four-game series with Arizona, including 26,000 for Thursday’s game, and those numbers appeared to be inflated somewhat. From our vantage point, the place looked less than half full on Thursday, so there weren’t 26,000 in the ballpark unless several thousand were disguised as empty seats.

It’s clear that the Giants need a star, someone to build an offense around, someone to draw a crowd. Right now their best hitter is Thairo Estrada.

C’mon fellas. Sign Aaron Judge. Pull up the Brinks truck and give him whatever he wants. He’ll pay for himself in both performance and ticket sales.

NFL’s Shame: One of the more sordid episodes in NFL history was "settled" last week when the league fined former Texans' quarterback Deshaun Watson $5 million and suspended him for 11 games as "punishment" for his alleged misbehavior in a whole lot of massage parlors. Some 24 women had filed lawsuits against Watson claiming sexual assault and/or harassment.

This sad saga dates back to the first accusation 18 months ago. But when a grand jury decided not to indict him, a bidding war for Watson's services commenced and the Cleveland Browns signed him to a five-year, fully-guaranteed $230 million contract, saying he deserved a "second chance."

There was no indication whether the Browns required their shiny new quarterback, who booked 66 massages over a 17-month period, to discontinue his massage addiction and get some serious therapy.

Watson has now settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits, but this episode is far from over. While he has apologized for "impacting" the lives of the massage therapists, he has not admitted to any wrongdoing.

In fact, at his press conference after the settlement was announced last week, he proclaimed: “I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said that I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone, and I will continue to stand on that."

Not many fans are standing with him. During the Browns' pre-season opener, the stadium rocked with chants of "you sick f***" and "no means no."

One can only imagine what will happen when the Browns meet the Texans in week 13.

The NFL, as usual, made a business decision. The guiding principles in the NFL are never morality, integrity, or doing the right thing. They’re always "keep the stars on the field, protect the owners' interests, and avoid controversy that might offend the fan base."

That's why a quarterback who kneels for the national anthem can be permanently blackballed, while another who assaulted 24 women can get off with an 11-game suspension.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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