Canzano: Pac-12 eyeing "loose partnership" with another conference
Source: CEO Group is plotting.
The Pac-12 Conference CEO Group has been hunkered down, trying to plot its course of action since the defection of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
A source with knowledge of their conversations told me the Pac-12 leaders are now considering a “loose partnership” with another conference.
Presumably, that conference is the ACC or maybe the Big 12.
I wrote a column this morning about Oregon’s wishes to be included in the Big Ten or SEC. Phil Knight apparently doesn’t want to be left out. The Ducks would love nothing more than to tailgate the Trojans and Bruins into the Big Ten and a media rights windfall. But at this point, Oregon doesn’t appear to have an invitation.
The Pac-12 issued a statement on Tuesday morning, indicating that conference leadership was given the go-ahead to accelerate its media rights negotiations. I took this to mean that a potential TV partner (Read: ESPN) might be initiating the “loose partnership” discussions.
My conversations in recent days with Bob Thompson, the former president of Fox Sports Networks, have been enlightening. He’s a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Thompson set Oregon’s potential value in the media rights world at $30 million a year. It’s just not enough to justify the Big Ten taking a flyer on UO, unless they agreed to not take an equal share of that conference’s impending $1 billion deal with Fox.
What would a “loose partnership” with the ACC look like? It could include a shared media rights deal with ESPN, who currently works with both entities. Also, it could result in the 10 remaining Pac-12 teams sticking together and the winner of that “10-team division” playing in an ACC vs. Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas at the end of the season. Also, there could be some attractive regular-season crossover games between the entities in football and men’s basketball.
“Geography aside,” Thompson told me Tuesday, “(the ACC) has significantly better TV markets than the Big 12.”
The ACC’s television markets include Boston, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Miami, Tampa, Louisville and Orlando, among others. Syracuse has some reach in the New York market, too. The Pac-12’s footprint includes Seattle, Phoenix, the Bay Area, Denver and Salt Lake City.
The Big 12 university media markets include Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., San Antonio, and Kansas City, among others.
Thompson is going to make an appearance on my statewide radio show today at 3 p.m. Also joining the show, former Nebraska, Oregon and Washington State AD Bill Moos. I talked with Moos this morning on the phone and Moos had some strong thoughts about USC and UCLA entering Big Ten play.
He doesn’t think they’ll enjoy early success.
Said Moos: “It ain’t going to be an easy road for USC and UCLA. At Nebraska, we took teams into Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State… let’s just say, there aren’t going to be any 10-2 seasons.”
The radio show airs in Portland (750-AM), Eugene (1050-AM), Roseburg (1490-AM), Klamath Falls (960-AM) or you can stream it live 3-6 p.m. PT using this link.
I’ll have more updates here as this develops.
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