Larry Scott Should be Made an Honorary Cougar: New Developments in the Quest for the Pac 12 Media Deal

For those of you that have kept up with Jon Wilner's monitoring the state of the Pac 12's Media Rights deal this will not be new.  There again, since I haven't seen anyone else post about this yet, I'm going to assume most of you haven't caught up with Mr. Wilner's blog just yet.  If you don't keep up with his blog, I suggest that you start because more so than anyone else out there he has been on top of the story since day 1.  Once you're done giving his post a quick read feel free to click through the jump and we'll get into just what this new media market and subsequent price adjustment might mean for us here at WSU.

First and foremost it looks like the windfall from equal revenue sharing is looking to potentially get even better than it already was.  If the following holds up, there's no doubt that WSU stands to benefit like no other school in BCS Football right now.

AJ Maestas of Navigate Marketing, which has done media rights deals for Arizona State and Ohio State, told me that he has revised his estimates for a Pac-12 TV deal to approx $220 million annually, up from $175 million six months ago.

That equates to approx $18.5 million/yr for the schools and would be the equivalent of a walk-off grand slam for Scott.

For those of you, like myself, that are wondering what that could potentially mean it's roughly a 4 million dollar per year increase in the athletics budget over the previous estimate.  14.5 million already looked like it was going to be absolutely HUGE for the Athletic Department moving forward, but a possible 18.5 million instead?  That's somewhere in the neighborhood of colossal, ginormous, or any other way you want to put it.  14.5 would have been roughly a 50% increase in the budget which currently resides around the 30 million mark. 

WSU has the smallest athletic budget in the Pac-10, he said, with revenues of about $30 million, compared to Oregon’s nearly $80 million. According to Moos, between 75 and 80 percent of the athletic department budget is self-generating, either from ticket sales, television revenues or fundraising. Athletic scholarships, which are set by the NCAA, are the main outside source of funding.  (Taken from here)

18.5 Million would increase the budget by roughly 62%.   That takes a significant burden off of the funds already generated by donations and ticket sales, allowing those funds to be reallocated towards scholarships.  This doesn't suddenly put WSU on the same level as a USC or Oregon, but it's a huge step towards building momentum towards that.

I have no way to verify this, but if I would be willing to bet my life that no other school has ever increased their athletics budget by nearly 2/3 simply by gaining equal revenue sharing within its conference.  For Larry Scott a deal in the ball park of 220 million annually is like a walk of grand slam.  For Moos it'll be like getting to swim in Uncle Scrooge's Money Bin from Duck Tales.  Someone else can make the .gif of Moos swimming in money, but if that image doesn't get your brain to click over from "meh" to "holy @#$*" you should likely just go back to whatever site you just came from and forget you ever read this.

I’ve also been told by someone familiar with the league’s business model that a Pac-12 Network is more than a negotiating ploy on Scott’s part (which is what some analysts and college sports officials believe).

The network is a done deal and will be launched in Aug. ‘12, in conjunction with the league’s broadcast partner.

The Pac 12 Network would also be a huge victory for a school that has traditionally found it difficult to get on TV outside of a few stellar years.  There again, keep in mind that in 2002 when Drew Dunning hit the field goal in OT to down a resurgent USC it was seen world-wide on TBS?  Don't get me wrong, it was on TV, but how many people outside of a few people that maybe stumbled onto it that day can tell you about that game?  It was a classic battle, but ESPN, FSN, and ABC all decided they had more important things to do than to bring the nation the 17th and 20th ranked teams in the nation.  Most weekends that would be a match-up worthy of bringing out the Game Day crew, but not then, not in Pullman.  Getting this team on TV once a week every week only helps in building recruiting and national prestige.  The Pac 12 Network might bleed money like a stuck pig its first few years, but that is for the league to worry about, not the schools, especially those that maybe, if FSN/ROOT is feeling charitable, get on TV 5/6 times a year in football, and maybe 15 or so times in basketball.  With a Pac 12 Network ALL, and Larry Scott has said ALL, Football and Basketball games would be on TV.  It's usually nice when the worldwide leader decides to put the Cougs on a second tier network during a basketball tournament, or maybe during a filler matchup early in the football season with a more well known opponent, but it has been inexcusable that some fairly crucial conference games the last few years have gone unaired completely.  By solving this problem Larry Scott not only gets the conference out in front of people, but he gets our Cougs on TV throughout the primary recruiting territory for our programs.  Factor in that places like Florida, where we are increasingly mining some football talent, would also get exposed to what we can offer and the proposition of this network launching looks better and better.  This becomes especially true if it comes online in August 2012 just as key renovations to our facilities are being wrapped up.

Facilities are a component that Wilner does not touch on, largely because no other schools could or would be able to do with their money what we could.  Using a 62% budget increase to leverage bonding on the proposed new football facilities is always better than using a 50% budget increase.  Either way, Moos is playing with some house money, but in this economic climate anything that makes a potential financier step up with more ease is a good thing.  Furthermore if you have a budget increase of an additional 12 percent beyond your previous estimates it stands to reason that things like an overhead scoreboard in Beasley as well as better facilities for training sound a lot more feasible in the short term than they did just 6 months ago.  Now, there are some heavy changes coming for the Pac 12 moving forward that would also reshape how games would be scheduled and played throughout the year.

For basketball the travel partners idea would pretty well be blown up.

Under Scott’s plan, the longstanding structure of travel partners playing on Thursday and Saturday would give way to games being played throughout the week.

For example, Cal would play at Washington on a Wednesday and visit Washington State several weeks later.

“We’re going to spread out the nights they play — like every other BCS conference,” Scott said.

The league is considering the use of chartered flights to minimize time away from campus.

This would cause some attendance issues for basketball season ticket holders as many of them have set their watches by the Thursday-Saturday home splits for years.  There again, with improved facilities and recruiting based on increased exposure it's plenty possible that a new group of season ticket holders, or even holdovers would find new and creative ways to get to Pullman to support the team.  What's more than likely is that Moos would have to go directly to Larry Scott and try to paint a picture for him of what travel to and from Pullman is like.  I've seen Mr. Scott attend a number of Pac 10 games so far, but I don't know that he's found his way up to our little corner of the world yet.  Scheduling changes would also come to football with the possibility of more Thursday and Friday night games to further accommodate getting every team on TV every week.  I think we can all agree that for those alumni and fans that don't reside within the immediate Pullman/Moscow Megalopolis that getting to those night games would be tricky.  Once again, that's when it falls on Moos to lead and to make the commissioner understand our situation up here.  There again when a good product is on the field accommodations come easier, so with the possible improvements on the table for our sports programs this might be more of a minor inconvenience than a crushing blow.

Finally I wanted to touch on the newest bit of information that Mr. Wilner put forth in his post today.  The Pac 12 wants to create its own media company.

Such an entity — which is being considered, according to an industry source — would operate the Pac-12 Network, control the digital and mobile programming and possess a commercial development arm.

“With all the changes in the media industry, and with so little high-value live sports content available, the conference has a chance to maximize its revenue and its exposure,” said Bevilacqua, who declined to discuss specifics of the league’s plans.

“And it can do all this while maintaining control over its intellectual property.

“That may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.’”

If the Pac 12 moves forward with this idea and actively goes out and sells itself as more than a sports conference, but as a legitimate media outlet with the means to facilitate digital and mobile content distribution, and are successful, they will change the face of collegiate sports forever.  It's one thing to allow ESPN to stream your teams on, it's a whole other affair when your conference takes the reigns of content distribution and puts their content in your hands directly.  It's a big move for any conference, and if they get out in front of other conferences they can make money in new and exciting ways.  Imagine being able to download replays of your favorite games, or being able to stream live games when you're stuck at some idiot friend's wedding because he/she just had to get married during the march to the Rose Bowl on a Saturday when you could have been in Pullman.  There are a million other things that I haven't even imagined yet, but if they do this they'll be paying people to be a lot more imaginative with it than I am.  The point is that it's another potential revenue stream and with another revenue stream comes more money, and more money means a bigger pie with bigger pieces for all to enjoy. 

The new Pac 12 media deal is shaping up to potentially be the greatest series of events to benefit WSU Athletics ever.  Whether Larry Scott is able to score 175 million per year, or 220 million per year, or a happy medium it is a boon to WSU no matter which way you slice it.  Fellow Cougars we not only live in interesting times, but in exciting times as well.  Keep an eye to the horizon, because after the new uniforms are unveiled on Monday, there will be a new announcement we should all be looking toward.  This deal will not only reshape the Pac 12, but reshape the Steve Rodgers of the Pac 12 into the Captain America of it as well.

Feel free to offer your ideas on the media company and what's to come, and just what you think of all this change down below, I'd love to hear what you have to say.  Go Cougs!

This FanPost does not necessarily reflect the views of the site's writers or editors, who may not have verified its accuracy. It does, however, reflect the views of this particular fan, which is just as important as the views of our writers or editors.

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