Conference expansion was only the beginning for Larry Scott. His progressive thinking and knowledge of the media are putting the Pac-10 in the best possible position heading into the upcoming TV contract negotiations.
For years, the typical Pac-10 media day involved a trip to the Rose Bowl for a day of interviews with players and coaches. The only significant highlights every year seemed to be the release of the media poll. Outside of that, Pac-10 media day had fallen into a rut of predictability and lacked the luster needed to drum up national interest.
That all changed this year. Larry Scott is taking his media training and spicing up the typical media days by thinking outside the box.
The run up to Thursday's media day in Pasedena involves a trip for coaches and executives to New York today, a cocktail hour with media executives tonight, a trip to Bristol and the ESPN studios tomorrow, before finally culminating Thursday at the Rose Bowl for the typical interviews with coaches and select players. The group is even ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ.
The show being put on for the media this week is impressive and something I'm not accustom to seeing from our conference leaders.
This year is pivotal for Scott and the Pac-10 with a new television contract on the horizon. It was very necessary for Scott to make an impact and put on a good face for the national media. A successful media tour this week lays the foundation for successful contract negotiations next year and a TV contract that may finally put the Pac-10 on equal footing with the rest of the college world.
If there's one thing we do know about Larry Scott -- from what we've seen so far -- it's that he's progressive and aggressive in his thinking and methods for running the conference. From aiming high in the conference expansion race to using his media savvy, Scott is bringing a component to the table that we didn't see under Tom Hansen in the past.
It seemed like Hansen lived in relative anonymity during tenure, shying away from the media for the most part. Scott, on the other hand, has jumped into the foray at every chance, working to up the exposure for the Pac-10. Just this week, Scott has been profiled by SI, and Jon Wilner, while also being praised by ESPN writer Ted Miller and the New York Times for his media savvy. Scott even popped up on the Forbes website today. A telling line for me comes from Miller:
Do this: Google "Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott" then do "Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen."
Yeah: Stunning. Nearly two million hits vs. 105,000.
SI.com's Andy Staples also highlights Scott's agressiveness and ability to think outside the box:
"I don't think it's far-fetched to think that five years from now, you'll see Pac-10 teams competing in Asia, hosting teams over here, and the brand of the Pac-10 starting to built over there and exposed on TV," Scott said. "That's going to provide some great opportunity for student-athletes." He also hopes it might pave the way for more academic collaboration between Pac-10 schools and Asian universities.
Years ago, we never would have thought of tapping into Asia. Now, Scott is openly pushing for the Pac-10 to use it's geographic location -- something that's usually a disadvantage nationally -- to tap into the biggest market in the world.
In just about a year as Pac-10 commissioner, Larry Scott has raised the awareness of both himself and the conference as a whole. As the head of the conference, Scott is taking the lead and putting himself out there as the face of the conference for the national media. The media has eaten it up, making him somewhat of a darling in the last few months.
The events of this week are only the beginning for Scott and the Pac-10. Over the next two years, there is little doubt Scott will position the conference in the best spot to maximize its media exposure. The days of being the forgotten bunch of college football need to end, something Scott realizes and is working to change.
We may not know how Scott will handle the procedural issues of realignment, but we do know he can handle the media in expert fashion. In the end, the progressive nature of Scott's handling of the media should result in a TV contract that is a huge win for every school in the conference.