21 Mar 19
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
* 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 March 20, has been made available in archived form …
The Big Units
The first Pac-12 game of the NCAA Tournament saw Arizona State beat St. John’s Thursday night. But let’s address the scoreboard that matters most to the nine Pac-12 teams not involved in March Madness.
That would be the NCAA units, of course.
The tournament accounts for the vast majority of the NCAA’s annual revenue, most of which is passed along to the schools through a series of funds. Tops on that list is the basketball fund.
Each conference is paid from the basketball fund for the number of games played — quantity of teams and quality of performance are both rewarded.
Every game, including the First Four but excluding the championship, equals one NCAA unit. The units are held by the conference for six years and increase in value by about three percent annually.
Let’s use ASU as the example.
Simply by playing Thursday, the Sun Devils earned one unit for the Pac-12 worth approximately $283,000 next year, then $292,000 the following year, and so on.
Over time, the value of one unit earned this month will be approximately $1.8 million, which is then split evenly among the schools.
Even if the Pac-12 had pulled another oh-fer, the three games played translate to three units at $1.8 million each over time.
That’s $5.4 million — or approximately $450,000 per school.
Going forward, the math is simple:
Every game played by ASU, Oregon or Washington is worth about $150,000 to your favorite team’s athletic department over the next six years.
Sure, that’s less then a pittance compared to dollars collected via the ESPN and Fox contracts, but it’s important nonetheless.
The $150,000 could pay a year’s salary for a dietician for the football program.
It could pay for two non-conference home basketball games against lower-tier opponents.
It could be the icing on the contract that convinces a prized offensive or defensive coordinator to reject another team’s job offer.
In other words: The front end of a one-and-one in the final minute of a close game? It matters … for everybody. — Jon Wilner
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Hot off the Hotline
• There is famine-to-feast historical precedent for Virginia, which lost in the first round last year as a No. 1 seed but is a Final Four contender this March. That, plus my best bets for the round-of-64 are right here.
• Looking for a deep dive into the matchups for the Sun Devils, Huskies and Ducks? Hotline columnist Brian Bennett has the nitty-gritty.
• ICYMI: The Monday edition of the newsletter featured my picks for the NCAAs — all 67 winners for your back account. (OK, 66 winners. I picked Prairie View.) 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.
March 20: Arizona State vs. St. John’s (6:10 p.m.,truTV)March 21: Washington State opens spring practiceMarch 22: Oregon vs. Wisconsin (1:30 p.m., TBS)March 22: Washington vs. Utah State (3:30 p.m., TNT)April 6-8: Final Four (Minneapolis)
• Arizona State opens NCAA play this evening in Dayton seeking its first tournament victory since 2009. Point guard Remy Martin suffered a groin injury in the Pac-12 tournament but is expected to play. (Yes, that’s a photo of Lu Dort. He’s important, too.)
• Washington needs its stars to rise to the occasion this weekend. If they don’t, the Huskies could be home by Saturday. “Carmelo became Carmelo because we went to the national championship and won,” UW coach Mike Hopkins recalled of the Syracuse run in 2003.
• Dana Altman on Oregon’s late-season turnaround: “In the 39 years I’ve been lucky enough to do this, I’ve never seen a team make as drastic of a change in a three- or four-week period.”
• The NCAA Tournament has a rich history in the Bay Area, writes Jeff Faraudo of CalBearsMaven.
• And if you’re headed to San Jose for the first and second rounds — that means you, Ducks fans — here’s a handy guide to restaurants, attractions and excursions.
• Fascinating look at Apple’s look at sports, courtesy of Sports Illustrated media reporter Jacob Feldman. Key takeaway: “The company has reportedly budgeted $1 billion for original content, including a deal with Kevin Durant’s production company for a basketball drama. But don’t expect the tech giant to venture into live broadcasts. Asked how much he’s thinking about competing against Facebook and Amazon (both of which have begun airing games) with exclusive rights, Apple senior vice president for Internet software and services Eddy Cue says, ‘Not a lot, honestly.’”
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.)
• Washington State’s quarterback competition has been reduced by one: Connor Neville is transferring. Also, we missed this from last week: quarterback Gage Gubrud, the Eastern Washington transfer, might miss spring practice with a lower body injury. At least for the time being, the Cougars aren’t quite so flush with QB options.
• Andy Avalos’ reconstruction of the Oregon defense continues with the installation of a four-man front for a 3-4 scheme. Wait, what?
• Mustafa Johnson, anchor of the Colorado defensive line, is adjusting to the new terminology under coach Mel Tucker and defensive coordinator Tyson Summers. “I’ve been struggling a little bit with the plays but I know a lot of other guys are picking it up real fast.”
• Utah’s senior class was huge (and one of the reasons the Utes won the South). Now it’s gone. What gives with who’s gone?
• UCLA’s Pro Day lacked star power, which helps explain what happened to the Bruins from September through November.
• The Pac-12 has one representative on Yahoo’s list of the most impactful quarterback transfers. Not difficult to guess his identity. Wore red, now purple.
On the basketball front:
• Colorado won its opening round game in the NIT and will face Alabama or Norfolk State next. Every game will make the young Buffs that much better prepared for next season.
• The Pac-12 tournament final on ESPN drew a vastly larger audience than last year’s version on FS1.
• Not specific to the Pac-12 but potentially significant to all of college football: The NCAA granted Ohio State transfer quarterback Tate Martell immediate eligibility at Miami even though (lack of) playing time was at the heart of Martell’s case. If you thought the transfer market has been wild to this point, wait for the coming anarchy, writes 247sports’ Chris Hummer: “Martell, in his desire for immediate eligibility, will open the floodgates for a similar number of waivers. It could also spark NCAA policy change after this case sets a precedent that shakes the college football landscape.”
Halls of Academia
• How were students with fake profiles admitted to USC as preferred walk-ons to the football team without the football team realizing it? The L.A. Times’ J. Brady McCollough spokes to two former recruiting coordinators for a behind-the-scenes look. Disgraced former associate athletic director Donna Heinel “certainly had the ability to say, ‘Look, coach Helton really needs this guy.’ She could push a little harder for the kids she knew were a priority.”
• Meanwhile, interim president Wanda Austin says the university will conduct a “complete investigation around athletics” that will include a review of Lynn Swann’s job performance, per Annenberg Media. (Thanks to D1.ticker for the alert.)
A section devoted to content on Pac-12 Olympic sports.
• The data-driven website fivethirtyeight.com offered up its preview of the NCAA women’s tournament, complete with a breakdown of efficiency ratings.
• Oregon is the No. 2 seed in the Portland regional and could reach the Final Four without leaving the state.
• In the Bay Area, Stanford’s staying put while Cal’s hitting the road.
• Picks from ESPN’s experts. (Two of them like the Ducks for the Final Four.)
• The Pac-12 women’s gymnastics championships are headed to Utah this weekend — Utah the state, not the school. It’s a ‘neutral’ location.
• Arizona centerfielder Matt Frazier, who’s hitting .412, is out with a broken hand. Timeframe for his return: unknown.
• Washington rower Andrew Gaard has “farmer’s strength,” which helps him three despite being undersized (at 6-foot-2).
What’s coming on the Pac-12 Hotline:
• SEC basketball has improved dramatically in the past few years. Are there lessons from the turnaround that could be applied to the Pac-12?
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