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Canzano: Pac-12 punches back with statement on unity
Conference says it's "highly confident" in future growth.
The Pac-12 Conference issued a written statement from its 10 remaining presidents and chancellors on Monday.
“The 10 Pac-12 universities look forward to consummating successful media rights deal(s) in the very near future. Based upon positive conversations with multiple potential media rights partners over the past weeks, we remain highly confident in our future growth and success as a conference and united in our commitment to one another.”
The statement amounts to a curious public-relations punch from the 10 conference stakeholders, designed to combat some criticism and uncertainty unearthed last week by a variety of media outlets.
One Pac-12 source said: “Some of the media narrative on that is not accurate.”
The Pac-12 isn’t just confident about future growth, folks — it wants you to know it’s “highly confident.” The conference is not just having conversations — they’re “positive conversations.” And the conference isn’t just negotiating — it’s “united” while doing so.
Got all that?
Now, will the Pac-12 just get a media-rights deal done?
The quickest, best way to change the narrative and prove that the 10 remaining members really are unified is to cut a deal that glues the conference together. Issuing a peculiar statement doesn’t come close to accomplishing that.
Monday’s statement was met with raised eyebrows. I found the release to be downright strange. It was the first joint statement from Pac-12 members since last July. Commissioner George Kliavkoff spoke at football media day in Los Angeles later that same month. He’s popped up a couple of times since, including a podcast interview he did with myself and Jon Wilner.
Last week, the Pac-12 commissioner visited SMU’s home basketball game, presumably to explore expansion. A few Pac-12 sources I spoke with were surprised Kliavkoff went through with the visit after it was publicly reported. It must have been important to the overall mission.
I’m also told Kliavkoff also met with officials at San Diego State in late December and that the conference has talked intermittently with a couple of others.
These are strange times, aren’t they? The media-world sources I’ve talked with tell me they’ve never before seen a media-rights negotiation garner such public attention and scrutiny. But the defections of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten put the process under a spotlight.
A decade or more ago, fans didn’t know about expansion clauses in media rights deals and weren’t tuned into how television households drive the value of a school. Nobody on the outside even knew the conference TV deals were being negotiated until they emerged with signed contracts in hand.
I’ve had a good time flipping over rocks, back-channeling, and exploring the underbelly of things since last summer, but I’d like to get back to talking about football and basketball if everyone else is good with that.
That can’t happen until the Pac-12 cuts a media deal. Also, until the CEO Group decides how many schools it wants to add. What does the Pac-12 want to be in 2024 and beyond? A 10-team conference? 12 or 14? Does it make sense to capture geography that extends the footprint into Texas?
How about Louisiana?
Does the Pac-12 look small-time (or opportunistic?) if it grabs SMU, San Diego State, UNLV and one other school?
My predictions, based on sourced conversations:
The Pac-12 will soon cut a media deal. It will likely expand by two members. Oregon and Washington aren't going anywhere. Neither are the “four corners” schools. Then, we’ll all move on to talking about the next college football season.
Over the weekend, I reached out to an involved source at one of the “four corners” schools. I asked the person if he/she wanted to make a public statement and address the rumors of Pac-12 instability. Was the conference really threatening to unravel? Were members antsy?
Certainly the ongoing uncertainty is unsettling for fans.
The source said: “Invest your energy elsewhere.”
I’d love to, just as soon as a deal gets done.
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