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Former Fox Sports president: move to Big Ten likely doesn’t make financial sense for some Pac-12 schools

It’s just one man’s opinion... But it’s a good opinion for fans who want to see the Pac-12 stick together.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Northwestern at Stanford Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s safe to say that it’s an interesting time to be a fan of a Pac-12 school.

Ever since UCLA and USC took their money and ran to the Big Ten over the summer, there have been non-stop rumors. Depending on what you read and where, numerous teams are always on the brink of leaving to numerous conferences at any given time. Everyone has an opinion about what’s going to happen, and almost none of them have any background in the subject at all.

Earlier this week on the Canzano and Wilner podcast, someone who does have experience in the topic gave his take. Former Fox Sports president Bob Thompson, who also happens to be an Oregon grad, joined the podcast to talk about the current climate in college sports. Thompson negotiated dozens of media rights deals for Fox, including ones for the Pac-10. He weighed in on a couple of topics, but the one that might interest WSU fans that want to see the Pac stick around a little longer might be his reasoning for why conference realignment might be over, at least for now.

“I don’t think that Oregon and Washington, and even throw in Stanford and Cal, if they go out there, that they’re going to get a full share,” Thompson said, speaking on the Big Ten’s new $70+ million dollar per university media rights deal. “They’d have to come out at a discount and it would be a significant discount. Probably not a whole lot more than you’re going to get staying in the Pac-12. I think your chances at success, from a CFP standpoint, are greatly increased by staying where you’re at.”

Thompson went on to say that the expansion of the CFP, and the likely addition of automatic bids, is a great thing for the Pac-12. The expanded playoff will give teams like Oregon and Washington a better chance to win a national title in the Pac-12 then they would competing against the Ohio States and Michigans of the world. But on top of that, Thompson says the increased travel costs combined with the partial share of media rights money just wouldn’t work financially.

“I think for a variety of reasons they’re not going. It just doesn’t pencil out dollar wise.”

Thompson also gave his thoughts on the conference’s upcoming negotiations with media rights deals. He expects the traditional partners to be a part of the deal, but also sees the conference exploring more high-tech solutions. While he thinks it’s too early to go all-in with a streaming service like Apple or Amazon, trading more money for less traditional coverage, Thompson believes that streaming will play a major role in the conference’s new contract.

“I think with the Pac-12 and the Big 12, I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a bigger streaming element then we’ve had in the past,” Thompson added. “Those will be part of the new deals. I think it’s smart. You have to go where your viewers are. You have to go where your alumni are. You have to go where your fans are. Increasingly, those fans aren’t on traditional linear TV.”

Thompson said all the right things for fans hoping to see the conference stick around and take a more modern approach to media. But, in the end, we’ll have to wait and see if George Kliavkoff and the Pac-12 agree with the takes of one former Fox executive.

You can listen to Thompson’s full interview with John Canzano and Jon Wilner here.

Former Fox Sports president skeptical that Big Ten move would make sense for some schools – Orange County Register
Moving to the Big Ten doesn’t make sense financially or competitively for Oregon and Washington, according to the retired president of Fox Sports who negotiated numerous media rights deals with college conferences.

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