14 Dec 18
Marin Independent Journal
* The Pac-12 Hotline newsletter is published each Monday-Wednesday-Friday during the college sports season (and twice-a-week in the summer). This edition, from Dec. 14, has been made available on the Hotline in archived form …
Pac-12 strategy: Experts weigh in
We interrupt the popular narrative — that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has pursued a horrendous media strategy — for some perspective. (Yep, that gosh-darn perspective.)
In a recently-published roundtable discussion for AthleticDirectorU, a well-respected industry site, three media experts addressed the decision to retain 100 percent ownership of the Pac-12 Networks and the opportunity that presents for a mega-deal in coming years.
The experts are Tom Stultz, president of JMI Sports; AJ Maestas, CEO of of Navigate Research; and Hillary Mandel, senior vice president of IMG Media.
Surprise, surprise: They have a slightly different view of Scott’s strategy than the non-experts.
The link to the full roundtable is below, but here are a few snippets.
On the Pac-12’s decision to take 100 percent ownership of its network:
Stultz: “The true value of the conference’s strategy won’t be fully known until the next round of rights negotiations. The Pac-12 will have more options available to it than any other conference because of the rights it has retained. Whether or not that pays off will be clear once those negotiations occur.”
Maestas: “No one can predict the future, but no sports property I know of regrets their decision to take equity in their own network. I think it was very smart at the time and long-term will prove to be the right decision, even if they are feeling some short term pain. If the Pac-12 had followed the Big Ten/SEC model, it would have committed itself to a disadvantaged position in perpetuity.”
On the impact OTT will have on the value of sports rights:
Stultz: “As it relates to the Pac-12, the spinoff of the RSNs by Disney could provide interesting opportunities for the Pac-12 Network. The buyer may want to expand and thus seek to acquire or partner with the Pac-12. Or, an unsuccessful bidder may become enamored by the business and seek to use the Pac-12 Network as a platform for entering the sports network business. Time will tell.”
On the Pac-12’s position when its current media deals expire in 2024:
Stultz: “The Pac-12 should be positioned very nicely to capitalize on a changing market that should be much clearer by then … The Pac-12 will have the deepest, broadest, most comprehensive package of content, sponsorship and media rights ever assembled to offer potential suitors. Unless there is a major disruption in college athletics, the Pac-12 should come out of these negotiations in a much stronger position.”
Mandel: “The fact that Pac-12 controls its rights will give them flexibility and optionality when they come to market. Owning their own network has allowed them to collect crucial data on their fan base and audience which will be important in those future digital conversations.”
Maestas: “They will be in a very strong position given the flexibility and ownership they control. Their deals are all lined up to expire at the same time as well which allows for a lot of room for creativity across their entire portfolio of inventory. The only fear I might have is mostly out of their control – the marketplace. Most major rights deals (major pro sports leagues and other collegiate conferences) expire before the Pac-12 window.”
Much more here. It’s worth your time.— Jon Wilner
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Hot off the Hotline
• The season ends as it began for the Pac-12: With Washington on the national stage, carrying the flag. UW’s performance against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl will shape the perception of the conference in the postseason. That and more in our bowl picks (against the spread).
• ICYMI: The Wednesday newsletter put my preseason predictions in the spotlight. How did I grade out? Not well, particularly in regard to the South. And please note: Previous editions of the newsletter are available in archived form using the following hashtag: https://www.mercurynews.com/tag/pac-12-hotline-newsletter/
Why we need your support: Like so many other providers of local journalism across the country, the Hotline’s parent website, mercurynews.com, recently moved to a subscription model. A few Hotline stories will remain free each month (as will this newsletter), but for access to all content, you’ll need to subscribe at a rate of just 12 cents per day for 12 months. And thanks for your loyalty.
Select men’s basketball games included. (All times Pacific.)
Dec. 15: Las Vegas Bowl: ASU vs. Fresno State (12:30 p.m./ABC)Dec. 15: Utah at Kentucky (2 p.m./ESPN2)Dec. 19-21: football early-signing periodDec. 22: UCLA vs. Ohio State (12 p.m./CBS)Dec. 22: Kansas at ASU (6 p.m./ESPN2)Dec. 26: Cheez-It Bowl: Cal vs TCU (6 p.m./ESPN)
State of Affairs
Perspective on the conference from beyond its borders.
• The Pac-12 placed six players on USA Today’s freshman All-America team, including three linemen … ESPN’s Mark Schlabach picks Pac-12 to win four of seven games in his annual bowl overview. (That seems to be the consensus.) … The Pac-12 isn’t the lowest-rated Power Five conference in the CBS Sports power rankings: “It came into the season as the punchline to every Power Five joke … But it was at least slightly better than expected,” writes Barrett Sallee … There’s a growing push to expand the College Football Playoff, but obstacles to an eight-team event are significant, as The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel smartly explains.
In the news
(Note: The Hotline newsletter includes links to sites that could require a subscription once the number of free views has been reached.)
• Things got a bit interesting Wednesday when the Colorado regents gathered to approve Mel Tucker’s contract. Two voted against, using the forum to protest larger issues in the game. (Right idea, wrong platform; thumbs down.)
• Meanwhile, Kwahn Drake, who did quality work with Colorado’s defensive line and was expected to be retained by Tucker, is leaving the Buffs for Kansas.
• Utah linebacker Chase Hansen is questionable for the Holiday Bowl. So is quarterback Tyler Huntley. Wait, what?
• Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson is less-than-questionable for the Las Vegas Bowl because of a family emergency. He’s not expected to play.
• Herm Edwards’ first season in Tempe was a success, but as SI’s Daniel Rapaport notes: Winning seven games at ASU “isn’t really a mark of progress.”
• Forget what we said Wednesday about Justin Murphy’s sixth year of eligibility adding to UCLA’s offensive line depth. He’s leaving the program.
• The national championship game at Levi’s Stadium has a huge halftime act, Imagine Dragons, except they won’t be performing at Levi’s Stadium.
• UCLA big man Shareef O’Neal underwent heart surgery and plans to return “better than ever.” We wish him the best in his recovery.
The early-signing window opens in five days.
• An elite cornerback, St. John Bosco’s Trent McDuffie, is headed to Washington. About time the Huskies landed a decent defensive back. Sheesh.
• Arizona State corralled a major recruit Thursday in the form of dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels, a 4-star prospect from San Bernardino. (Psst: The Sun Devils are doing quite well on the trail.)
• Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, perhaps the best prospect in the country (any position), will announce his college choice Saturday. Oregon is in the final four. So is Bama.
• Some of the top players in Arizona history came from the Pacfic Islands. Under Kevin Sumlin, the Wildcats are dipping back into the pipeline Dick Tomey established decades ago.
• Bleacher Report analyst Matt Miller published his latest ‘big board’ earlier this week, and Pac-12 representation was, um, modest: The conference’s top talent, Washington cornerback Byron Murphy, is the No. 16 overall prospect, behind eight — yep, eight — players from the SEC.
• Meanwhile, nobody really knows if Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will declare for the 2019 draft, Miller writes.
A section devoted to content on Pac-12 Olympic sports.
• Cool story from Berkeley, where Bears guard Archer Olson and gymnast Cassidy Keelen participated in a Sports Tech Collider program designed to “solve some of the most pressing issues in sports.”
• One of the greatest basketball players in conference history, USC’s Lisa Leslie, will receive the 2019 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. (Her hardware: three-time All American, NCAA Player of the Year, four Olympic golds, two WNBA titles and the Naismith HoF. Solid.)
• It’s Stanford against Nebraska for the NCAA volleyball championship (Saturday, 6 p.m./ESPN2).
• Oregon big man Paul White “has lost count of how many friends in his hometown (Chicago) have been murdered,” writes the Register-Guard’s Steve Mims. At a recent funeral, White felt anxious about the fragility of his own life.
• Touching profile, from azcentral’s Greg Moore, of Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales, whose daughter has Down syndrome. That doesn’t stop Abby from giving dad the ‘Forks Up.’
• The Seattle Times’ Scott Hanson takes a deep dive into an important development for the Pac-12: The state of Washington, once known for its basketball talent, is producing more elite football prospects. Could the success of the Huskies and Seahawks have something to do with it?
• Not directly related to the Pac-12 but worth your time: USA Today’s Brent Schrotenboer examines the engine behind the expansion of the bowl season, which has grown from 18 games two deacdes ago to 40 this season (and is about to get bigger). Bottom line: The games benefit those with a vested interest.
What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
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• Our recap of the Las Vegas Bowl will be included in ‘Saturday Night Five,’ along with reaction to other developments across the conference. The AP football poll is on hiatus until the end of the bowl season, but we’re chugging along with the basketball version (coming Monday morning).
• Cal coach Justin Wilcox got more than a new contract. He received a raise for the 2018 season, as well. We’ll look at the salaries for all 12 coaches this season on a dollars-per-victory scale.
• Also coming Monday: Our preview of the top storylines of the early-signing window, with the help of 247Sports recruiting analyst Greg Biggins.
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