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Not a Deal Worth Waiting For

It could've been worse, I guess.

The long-awaited Pac-12 media deal was presented to the conference presidents yesterday.

And it was underwhelming. No rabbit came out of a hat.

After ludicrously claiming at last week's Media Day that "the longer we wait for the media deal, the better our options get," commissioner George Kliavkoff had to desperately scramble to put something together after Colorado bolted the conference.

It's not very good. It was never going to be any good. As one of his lieutenants told Yahoo's Ross Dellenger, "if we had a good deal, we'd have presented it earlier."

Here's what we know so far:

* It is primarily a streaming deal, presumably with Apple TV

* There may be occasional marquee games sold to ESPN or Fox

* The payment is below the Big 12's approximately $32 million per school

* There are escalators in the agreement depending on Apple's subscriber growth

* Since Apple doesn't do production, the conference will have to cover production costs

Bottom line: the money is inadequate and the exposure is an embarrassment compared to the other Power 5 Conferences. The Big Ten has Fox, CBS and NBC. The Big 12 has ESPN and Fox. The SEC has ESPN and ABC. The ACC has ESPN and the CW.


So on a Saturday afternoon the typical fan will be able to watch all the Pac-12 competitors on the major carriers and flip back and forth with the remote control. The Pac-12 will be on a streaming carrier, which requires paying a subscription, using an app and making it very difficult to switch between games.


This lack of exposure for the conference will make recruiting much more difficult for the remaining member schools.


What's Next? As we wrote on Monday, the future of the Pac-12 lies with the Arizona schools, which will either be the conference's life preserver or deliver the knockout blow.

The Arizona Board of Regents, responsible for both the Arizona schools, met in executive session yesterday but didn't reach any decision. Reports indicate Arizona is ready to leave for the Big 12 but Arizona State is leaning toward staying with the Pac-12. If the two schools go separate ways, it's possible Arizona would have to compensate ASU, in much the same way UCLA will have to compensate Cal for jumping to the Big Ten and leaving the Bears behind.


What are the Options for the Pac-9 (8, 7, etc)?: If Arizona stays, the conference should add San Diego State to replace Colorado. If Arizona leaves, the conference should add San Diego State and SMU. Presumably the league or some sugar daddy (Phil Knight perhaps?) will pay the SDS exit fee.

If Arizona and Arizona State jump ship, things become more complicated. Utah may join them. That would require major surgery.

In that scenario, six schools would remain: Oregon, Washington, Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford and Cal. Assuming the Ducks and Huskies don't leave for the Big Ten, possibilities include:

1) Add San Diego State, SMU, Boise State and other Mountain West schools. Unfortunately, all this does is create a "Mountain West 2.0."

2) Merge with the ACC to form a new conference. This would require a lot of legal maneuvering relative to existing contracts and such, not to mention hideous travel costs.

3) Every man for himself. Oregon and Washington join the Big Ten or ACC. OSU and WSU join the Mountain West. Stanford and Cal go independent or try to form an "Academic League."

None of these options are particularly attractive. But that's where we may find ourselves next week, thanks to the incompetence of Larry Scott and George Kliavkoff.

Stay tuned.


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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//gacavalli49@gmail.com

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