The biggest debate at the conference meetings -- especially pertaining to Washington State -- will come when revenue sharing in the new Pac-12 is discussed. The current Pac-10 model is a hybrid model, with schools pocketing the majority of the TV appearance money they make and spreading the rest throughout the conference. That appears to be on the way out, to the extreme benefit of WSU.
Take it away, Bud Withers.
Why is it an issue now? Assuming Washington and WSU end up in a division separate from USC and UCLA, they're going to meet those schools less frequently in football. When that happens, by definition they're going to be disadvantaged monetarily, because of the TV appeal of the L.A. schools.
We all know the alignment and scheduling debates at the conference meetings will be hot button issues. The underlying reason alignment is such a huge deal is exactly what Withers describe. Assuming a geographic alignment, the North schools are cutoff from the revenue that SoCal provides. No matter what happens, a divisional split gives UCLA and USC a monetary advantage because the rest of the conference won't have a piece of both every year.
What does it take for the Pac-12 to split revenue equally? It's simple, really, but in the past one school has kept the deal off the table.
Turns out Washington is a key player. It takes an 8-2 vote in the Pac-10 to implement financial policy, and the L.A. schools form a coalition. Moos remembers a steady stream of "no" votes to revenue sharing through the 1990s and beyond from UW athletic director Barbara Hedges, killing the notion.
Shocker. Three votes used to kill the deal and the swing vote has been Washington. I don't blame the L.A. schools for always voting no. They can use their location to their benefit and gain a leg up on the rest of the competition.
UW, on the other hand, had a run of success and operates in a profitable Seattle market. All of a sudden, an 0-12 season hits and the tune changes.
But times changed, football turned bleak at the UW and shared money began looking good. Woodward favors revenue sharing, if the league will also do away with an archaic policy of traditional rivals sharing their football gate, which hurts the Huskies more than anybody.
The times are a changing. After falling on tough times, it became apparent how TV money can be fickle outside of the L.A. market. Of course since Martin Stadium is nowhere near comparable in revenue to Husky Stadium, Woodward wants to do away with sharing rivalry gates if the conference goes to equal TV revenue sharing.
"Essentially, I subsidize Wazzu to the tune of about 400 grand a year," Woodward said. "If we're going to share revenue with them, I want that to go away."
It's actually $300,000 or so, but who's counting. Although I do love rivalry games being split evenly, if that's what it takes to do this, we will gladly give it up. A $300,000 loss compared to the millions gained -- not to mention the equal playing field -- is a small price to pay.
Finally, expansion made it much harder for the L.A. schools to keep the current model around.
Now, with the expanded Pac-10, there are two new sheriffs in town. Well, deputies anyway. They have immediate voting rights on this issue, and presumably, they'll be of the equal-share persuasion. As always, it will take a 75 percent, 9-3 vote to change the formula, but that means the L.A. schools need to find not one, but two allies.
Even if Washington decides they like the current way, another vote is still needed. What we may see is some serious posturing during the meetings.
Schools fighting for certain alignments or ways of scheduling could band together in the voting and hold veto power (California schools, perhaps). While not likely, it's impossible to tell what's going to happen in conference meetings that are shaping up to be fairly volatile.
The Cougs stand to benefit the most from an equal distribution of TV money, and it's not even close when compared to the rest of the conference. This is an issue Bill Moos will clearly be pushing, more than alignment and scheduling. In the bigger picture, divisions and intra-conference games are the small issue. Equal revenue sharing has the potential to change the conference -- and change it in a good way -- for the foreseeable future.