Today, we sat down with Larry Scott, the Commissioner of the Pac-10and the soon-to-be-named Pac-12.
Following his dance with Texas and the poaching of Big 12 teams, which garnered much attention this summer, the conference settled on Colorado and Utah.
This week, Scott took the conference’s football coaches to New York and later to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus after unveiling a new logo.
Darren: Let’s go back to your wooing of Texas and the five other teams from the Big 12 to try to form the Pac-16, which obviously didn’t work out. What were you offering from a TV rights perspective that was a concrete guarantee and what ultimately happened, in your words?
Scott: I did not have any minimum guarantees to offer as far as what they would make if they would come to us. We were obviously working with CAA and they did some extensive modeling and projections for us and it was pretty clear the value was going to be enormous. And we talked to TV broadcasters who told us that they would stroke the check in the zip code we said we were going to be in. It was pretty clear from our membership that each school would get paid equally. Then there was Texas and its desire to have its own network. We were pretty adamant that we wanted to preserve the idea of having our own conference network. And finally, I think it was about the whole thing getting stomped by Texas politics. About 24 hours before I got the word, there were tensions between Texas and Texas A&M and Texas A&M was leaning closer to the SEC than they were to us. Then there was Baylor sitting there and it just got too hot in the kitchen.
Darren: So maybe you won’t have the same exact value without Texas, but you have four fewer teams. Knowing that, how much more or less is each team eventually going to get now compared to what would have been split up with a 16-team league?
Scott: If you’re asking me to compare what we’ll have in the Pac-12 versus what we would have had in the Pac-16, I’m guessing that the models are going to be pretty comparable as far as the split is concerned.
Darren: What have you done to try to make the bidding on your new television deal come in at higher numbers?
Scott: Well, we’ve obviously expanded our footprint by bringing in our two new schools to more homes and we’ve gone from scheduling in just the Pacific Time Zone to adding the Mountain Time Zone. We’re going to open up more broadcast windows to add more cumulative eyeballs by having basketball games on different days, whereas before it had only been on Thursday and Saturday. And we’ve made some concessions in order to get more exposure for our product. In the old world, if a game was on ABC regional, it wouldn’t be on ESPN2 as well because our conference had previously reasoned that it would need to get paid twice for that. We’ve made clear that we want as many people as possible to see our games.