Canzano: Mailbag deals with Pac-12's emerging options, Narnia, and why the Blazers are stalling
Your questions, my answers...
My wife reads to our two youngest daughters every night. They’ve blown through Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona the Pest” series and are now reading “The Horse and his Boy” — one of the seven C.S. Lewis novels that comprise “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
The girls are 6 and 8.
Anna reads them one chapter a night.
Most evenings, I eavesdrop and it warms me all over. But I especially loved the scene on Friday evening. In the last week or so, we watched as the Pac-12 splintered and the pursuit of revenue ruled college athletics. There’s been disregard for geography and a loss of long-standing football tradition in the last week.
So hearing my wife read to the girls about a talking horse from a magical land called Narnia felt like a pleasant escape.
I’m having a lot of fun with this new writing endeavor. I write what I want, when I want and tell the stories I think need to be told. I appreciate everyone who has supported by reading, subscribing and giving a gift subscription. Also, a big ‘thank you’ to those who have helped others find my new column home — JohnCanzano.com.
Thank you, all.
Onto the mailbag…
Q: Please explain how TV executives grade between TV markets and TV viewership? — @HMcKee53
A: TV “households” represents total universe of homes that could potentially view a game. TV “viewership” is the actual number of people who viewed a game. Former Fox Sports Network president Bob Thompson told me that it’s not all about the number of potential TV households but that’s the starting point for the major networks. There’s subjectivity involved, too. Per Thompson, “research shows bulk of a rating for any particular game comes from the participants home markets. Attractive matchups add more viewers. Why do you think NFL has three times number of regional games each week vs. national games? Ratings and market size matter to networks.”
Q: TV viewership numbers show Boise outperforms all other Mountain West schools and it’s not even close. So why the emphasis on size of market (SDSU, UNLV) when Boise gets way more eyeballs to watch the games? — @mmoss_10
A: The state of Idaho has only 517,000 television households. The Broncos have built a nice brand and get some consideration because of it. But see the above comments from the former Fox executive.
Q: What's your favorite color? — @TC_In_The_541
A: Blue. Easily.
Q: Who’s calling the shots more with the Pac-12 situation? The school presidents or athletic directors? — @Beav_Scott
A: The Pac-12’s CEO Group is comprised of the presidents and chancellors of the member universities. They call the big-picture shots. The ADs run day-to-day operations of the athletic departments and have a voice in the room. I’m told by sources that both Mike Bohn (USC) and Martin Jarmond (UCLA) had extensive contact with the Big Ten prior to the decision to leave the Pac-12, for example. But that decision to leave was ultimately green-lit by the biggest leader on campus.
Q: Why can’t the NCAA place a maximum of two teams from each conference in the playoff to help curb mega conferences? — @OOOSSSUUU
A: It’s a great idea and it would help foster parity. But the NCAA doesn’t organize or award the championship for the College Football Playoff. The four-team invitational playoff operates independently of the NCAA. Now, the Big Ten and SEC are trying to monopolize it.
Q: I’m an angst ridden but forever hopeful Cal fan (it’s a disease). It’s impossible to find any substantive reporting on how this sorts out for the Bears, who are seemingly relegated to “player to be named later” or “cash considerations” status. Any thoughts on where Cal ends up? — @alflorit
A: Cal is a good bet to stick with the remaining core group of Pac-12 universities. The Bears have $100 million in debt remaining on their football stadium renovation. It’s important that Cal continues to receive healthy television distributions. I reported on Friday that two sitting Pac-12 ADs told me they are “confident” that the remaining 10 universities in the Pac-12 are going to stick together.
Q: If the Pac-12 were to expand, would they expand with two or four (like the Big 12)? What times do you believe are the most likely expansion candidates from the P5, G5, and most likely overall? — @SCOTTLAKE0
A: The Pac-12 will follow ESPN’s lead on this one. As a result, I’m looking at the best available TV markets and that makes the Big 12’s Baylor and Houston interesting targets. Beyond that, keep an eye on San Diego State and SMU. If the conference wants a presence in Southern California and Texas that could be achieved by adding those two universities. Boise State and Fresno State are interesting for different reasons but I’d place them at longer odds.
Q: Is it possible that USC and UCLA to the Big Ten backfires for the TV networks? I see a future where fan interest plummets as the Pac-12 is broken up and a generation of fans walk away. — @KMasterman
A: I published a study on college football attendance in 2019 and what I learned was alarming. The Big Ten and SEC were coming off record attendance lows. The Pac-12 was in an attendance free fall, drawing 250,000 fewer fans to games in 2018 than it did the year before. There’s been a societal shift in the way we consume live sports. I wonder when that hits television. The entire western part of the US doesn’t participate right now in the College Football Playoff. I think fans in the west are already losing interest.
Q: Have you heard from the new PSU athletic director on his plans for reinvigorating PSU football and basketball? — @babcockjenning
A: John Johnson joined me on the statewide radio show last week. (Podcast of our interview here.) I asked him about football specifically.
Q: Where do you think the Pac-12 ends up in all this? — Randy
A: In the short term, I think the conference pulls itself together, signs a deal with ESPN and ends up as a “partner” of the ACC. I imagine early-season crossover games in football and men’s basketball (Miami vs. Oregon? or Florida State vs. Utah?) and I think the date normally reserved for the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas may end up being a crossover matchup between the ACC champion and Pac-12 champ. I also think the Pac-12 will look to add two members, but only if they can justify more than $30 million each in potential television revenue.
Q: Know you don’t like Larry Scott, but he was in with San Francisco tech and had media rights expiring soon by choice. He had sights on big tech media deal. Is this being overlooked? Meta giving the Pac-12 $2 billion for exclusive rights with global audience via Facebook, Instagram, Oculus. In the billions. — @Haymorrow
A: I studied the Pac-12’s partnerships as I examined the exorbitant rent the conference was paying to be in downtown San Francisco. Very few of the Pac-12 partners had ties to the Bay Area. Beyond that, the other major conferences — ones not located in downtown San Francisco — were still making deals with Bay Area tech companies. I think Scott liked being in downtown SF because it came with prestige, had nice restaurants, and was an easy drive for him from his home in Danville, Calif.
Q: In how many regular season games will Kayvon Thibodeaux be physically able to perform for the entire game? What’s the over/under? — @JeffreyMerrick
A: I watched KT closely at Oregon. There are 17 games in the NFL’s regular season. I’ll set the over/under at 12.5 games.
Q: Why won’t Jody Allen sell the Blazers? — @ParkinGod
A: The NBA’s domestic TV rights are going to be re-negotiated after the 2024-25 season. The deal is expected to be a windfall and significantly increase team valuations. The Denver Broncos waited for the new NFL TV deals before settling the late Pat Bowlen’s estate and got the largest sales price in league history. However, I have long believed the Blazers could bake those potential increases into the sales price. Bert Kolde, the vice chair of Portland’s NBA team, is running point on this thing. The real hold up may just be Kolde’s ego, sadly. Those who have worked closely with him tell me he’s stubborn, child-like and a handful to deal with.
Q: Are Mark Emmert and the NCAA completely useless when it comes to colleges just up and changing conferences. Can they not step in at all? — @sahdcoug
A: The NCAA will tell you it doesn’t make the rules. It’s only there to enforce the ones its members decide they want to create. Emmert’s tenure has been a disaster. I’m glad he’s stepping down. What college football needs is a commissioner, appointed to act in the best interest of the game.
I’ll have updates here as all this stuff develops. If you want to receive everything in real time to your email In-box, make sure you’re subscribed.
Have a great weekend…
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all who have supported, subscribed and shared my new independent endeavor with friends and family in recent months. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing.