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College Hotline - Pac-12: Commissioner Larry Scott’s future, the Guerrero incident and...

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    (Credit: USA Today)



    We’re in the calm between storm bands — one week since Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott called out UCLA AD Dan Guerrero for his satellite camp vote and slightly less than one week before the league’s spring meetings begin in Scottsdale.

    Given that window, and the level of fan frustration, and the tone of media commentary, this seems like a good time to address the state of the conference, the present and future of the commissioner and the changing dynamic at the upper levels of league leadership.

    First off, on the satellite camp spat:

    My view is fairly simple and has been expressed on Twitter: It was made clear to Guerrero on multiple occasions that he was voting for the conference as a whole and that he was to vote against the camp ban regardless of the legislative twists and turns — and he did not. From here, it sure seems like he screwed up.

    But let’s also be clear on this: Dan Guerrero has been an important voice – no, a critical voice — within the conference over the years; he has represented the league well on national committees and national issues; he is well liked and respected by his peers; his character has never been questioned; and his commitment to bettering UCLA and to helping the member schools has always been beyond dispute.

    What happened with the vote, what went through his head – I don’t know. But Scott was wrong to call Guerrero out as he did. I’ve given the issue much thought and talked to numerous sources, and I can recall no similar instance in any conference.

    Instead of saying “I think it’s clear he did not vote the way he was supposed to vote” … and “Draw your own conclusions” … Scott should have said: “There was a mistake, we’re handling it internally, and that’s all I have to say.”


    Okay, now let’s move to bigger topics and issues – namely, the state of the conference under Scott’s leadership.

    If you’re looking for the Hotline to call for Scott’s head, this will disappoint. The goal, as always in this space, is to inform the public discourse with context and measured praise and/or criticism.

    And if you’re frustrated with the state of the Pac-12 Networks … if you’re irate over the lack of a deal with DirecTV … if you’re perplexed by the focus on China … if you’re aghast at the comments about Guerrero … and if you’re wondering when the Pac-12 will announce that Scott is being replaced as commissioner — well, you’ll be waiting a long, long time.

    It doesn’t work that way. Short of a major legal or ethical breach, conferences don’t cast aside commissioners. Even if Scott’s job were in immediate jeopardy, which it’s not, the situation would be handled in a graceful, subtle manner. (More on that in a few minutes.)

    To get perspective on Scott’s future, you have to understand the past.

    He was hired in the spring of 2009 by a group of 10 chancellors and presidents who were desperate for cash and insistent upon overhauling the way the conference functioned in a rapidly-growing media landscape (i.e., TV dollars).

    Scott was handed the keys, given the freedom to make big changes and charged with generating big money. Those changes – expansion, a new Tier 1 television rights deal and, as it turned out, a wholly-owned TV network – required oversight and approval at the highest levels of league power: The CEO level.

    Fresh off his stint as executive director of the Women’s Tennis Association, Scott ran the conference like a professional league – that is, he ran it from the center. He was Roger Goodell or David Stern, and the university CEOs were his owners. He has worked closely with them, and managed them, ever since. They’re his bosses, technically, but they follow his lead and trust his judgment.

    The athletic directors, who had been so instrumental in league matters over the decades, were moved to the background.

    The arrangement was a good one for Scott. The CEOs who hired him … who had so much invested in him …. who had such grand hopes for change … essentially rubber-stamped everything.

    When Scott boldly went after Texas and a 16-team superconference, when he added Utah and Colorado, and when he snagged a $3 billion Tier 1 deal from Fox and ESPN, the CEOs were thrilled. The rubber-stamping continued.

    Now, when it comes to understanding what happens on the front lines of collegiate athletics – on the fields of play, on the recruit trails, at booster events and at infinite points of fan engagement — there are three types of chancellors/presidents

    1. Those who know nothing.
    2. Those who know almost nothing.
    3. Those who don’t care.

    After all, the CEOs are running billion-dollar universities, of which athletics is but one facet. The core group of CEOs responsible for hiring Scott saw that the league was $3 billion richer and turned to other matters.

    But here’s the thing: The athletic directors – there aren’t dummies.

    Many of them are super sharp, have deep institutional knowledge and understand what’s happening on the front lines.

    As Scott, who had no background in college sports, continued to run the conference like a pro league and deal directly with the CEOs for approval when needed … as the Pac-12 Networks flagged … as the backlash mounted against night football games … as the conference cast a perplexing eye toward Asia … as other conference caught up and surpassed the Pac-12 in media revenue … as all that unfolded, the frustration on the front lines, with fans and athletic department personnel across the campuses, mounted.

    If those were the only issues, the dynamic deep within the league might remain as it was – wholly unchanged from the early days of Scott’s rubber-stamping tenure.

    But something else has changed, folks: The CEOs have changed.

    Of the 10 who hired Scott, only three remain.

    Gone: Washington’s Mark Emmert, off to run the NCAA. (Insert punch line here.)
    Gone: Oregon’s respected Dave Frohnmayer, who passed away last year.
    Gone: USC’s powerful Steve Sample.
    And going: Stanford’s highly-influential John Hennessy, who chaired the search committee that hired Scott. (Hennessy is retiring this summer.)

    Who’s left?

    Here’s the current CEO list, with the year he/she began the appointment:

    Arizona State: Michael Crow, 2002
    Oregon State: Ed Ray, 2003
    UCLA: Gene Block, 2007
    Colorado: Bruce Benson, 2008
    USC: Max Nikias, 2010
    Arizona: Ann Weaver Hart, 2012
    Utah: David Pershing, 2012
    Cal: Nickolas Dirks, 2013
    Oregon: Michael Schill, 2015
    Washington: Ana Mari Cauce, 2015
    Washington State: Kirk Schulz, starts in June
    Stanford: Marc Tessier-Lavigne, starts in Sept

    Of the 10 CEOs involved in hiring Scott, only three will be active come the 2016-17 school year, and one of those three, Block, cannot be happy with the way his loyal, trusted athletic director has been treated.

    That said, Scott still has strong support from the other long-serving CEOs, OSU’s Ray and ASU’s Crow, and both are influential voices, Crow in particular.

    Many of the other CEOs, multiple sources said, are either reasonably happy with the state of the league, or indifferent. The Tier 1 money is flowing, the conference has its own media company, and the reports from Scott indicate all is well.

    But while the group isn’t clamoring for immediate change, there’s a trace of skepticism in some of the halls of power.

    The CEOs appointed in the past few years – and that’s seven of them, including the two yet to begin their appointments – are not tied to Scott as their predecessors were.

    They have come on board at a time of growing frustration with the Pac-12 Networks and the number of night games, and they are made aware of the issues by athletic department personnel that itself is frustrated and deals weekly with frustrated fans and donors.

    The pivot point, in my estimation, came in early September, when Scott was furiously attempting to cut a deal for Pac-12 Networks carriage on DirecTV. The window he had waited for – AT&T’s purchase of the satellite carrier — had seemingly created an opportunity to jump-start the negotiations and reach an agreement. Scott cut the best deal he could and took it to the CEOs …

    And it was rejected by an 11-0 vote, with one abstention (Washington State).

    Eleven. To. Nothing.

    The best deal Scott could get.

    The situation left many wondering why Scott even bothered to ask the CEOs for approval in the first place. Didn’t he realize it was a bad deal for the campuses? Was he that desperate to save face, to close a deal with DTV to salvage his Pac12Nets? Did he understand the ramifications for the membership? (Scott told me he felt obligated to take the deal to the CEOs for a vote.)

    This much is clear: The dynamic has changed since that moment, since the 11-0 vote against the proposal Scott negotiated and put in front of this CEOs. The era of rubber-stamping has ended. The skepticism on the front lines has wafted into the halls of power.

    That should not be confused for winds of change, however.

    A public dressing-down of an athletic director? That looks bad, it is bad, and it’s not going over well with the athletic directors. But do you think Ed Ray or Michael Crow care about that? Nope.

    As for the Pac-12 Networks, well, remember this: Scott didn’t sell it to the CEOs as, first and foremost, a big-money-maker. He sold it as a chance for the league to own 100 percent of a media company to do with what the CEOs pleased — a media company that would highlight the Olympics sports, super-serve the fans and generate cash to supplement the Tier 1 deal.

    For fans, media members, coaches and athletic department personnel across the campuses — the front lines — the Pac12Nets are viewed as anything but a roaring success. But in the halls of power, they are hardly seen as a colossal failure.

    What’s next?

    Scott is not getting fired tomorrow, or next month – or next year. And to those who think the DirecTV failure and the night game frustration and the Guerrero incident make this a good time for him to consider moving on, I say:

    What makes you think he hasn’t been looking for the past three years?

    I figured that once Scott got through expansion and the Tier 1 deal and the Pac12Nets and helping create the College Football Playoff … once he got through all that, his days in the Pac-12 were numbered.

    Whether he left in 2014 or 2018 or 2022, he’s not a lifer. He’s ambitious, he’s not of the college sports world, and his personal ties to the Bay Area last until his kids are out of the house, if that long.

    (Multiple sources believe Scott has explored, on a cursory basis, a few opening in recent years. Again: That should come as zero surprise.) (The IMG College President gig would have made sense to me.)

    What’s likely to happen to Scott in the near- and intermediate-term?

    Again, these things are handled in subtle fashion.

    Scott has two years left on his current contract. Maybe at some point in the next 12-18 months, the CEOs quietly signal to Scott that his deal won’t be extended and that he should begin a job search in earnest.

    Or maybe he receives an extension but no raise – another indication that not all is grand and glorious.

    More likely, he will leave, eventually, on his own terms. Viewing the Pac-12 landscape from the perspective of the CEOs — that’s the only way to view Scott’s job status — and with two of the most powerful (Ray and Crow) still very much in his corner and with all of them preoccupied by other matters on campus, I fail to see how change is afoot, whether it’s overt or subtle.

    BUT:

    Clearly, all is not well.

    Frustration is real and ubiquitous on the front lines, and the conference office is a few months away from I would term a nightmare scenario: Fans within the footprint being unable to watch football games on the Pac12Nets because of the push to regional programming.

    As noted at the top, the spring meetings are next week, the first gathering since Scott called out Guerrero. What steps should be taken? I’m not an image consultant, but I’ll play one right here.

    ** Scott should apologize to Guerrero in person, and do it in front of the athletic directors.

    ** Scott should signal, in some manner, that the ADs will be more involved in league decisions in the future. (That move has begun, but it needs to continue — they are a valuable resource.)

    Oh, and the collaborative effort must include the Pac12Nets, which, multiple sources said, often make decisions without campus consultation.

    ** Scott also must signal that the league will scale back on the China outreach and the promotion of such efforts. Commitment are commitments; contracts are contracts. But reigns should be placed on any new endeavors until Scott gets his house in order — until he gets a deal with DTV and until he gets the regional programming issue solved.

    There are no significant tangible (i.e., fiscal) benefits to the China/Asia push in the near future, and Nero is never a good look.

    Bottom line:

    There is fan unrest and front-line frustration; there have been missteps by the conference; a respected AD has been embarrassed unnecessarily; the tenor isn’t good from Pullman to Boulder to Tucson to Corvallis; and the prospect for a football PR nightmare is just four months away.

    Scott has some big problems to solve, and he’ll be given the chance to solve them.

    xxxxxxxxxxxx

    * Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

    * My e-book, “Andrew Luck: Inside the Making of a No. 1 Pick,” is available for $2.99 on Amazon for Kindles and for other devices (PCs, iPads and iPhones) with the free Kindle app.

    * Download the Bay Area News Group’s new iPad app for more college sports and other news, or check out college sports coverage on MercuryNews.com.





    The post Pac-12: Commissioner Larry Scott’s future, the Guerrero incident and changing dynamics with the CEOs appeared first on College Hotline.

    Continue reading...

    by Jon Wilner
     
  2. J.R. Ewing

    J.R. Ewing Club Member Club Member

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    Good read
     
  3. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    If you're interested in the organizational landscape of the Pac-12 and Larry Scott's future, do not miss this one. Wilner does an absolutely fantastic job of laying things out.
     
  4. sackman

    sackman Club Member Club Member

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    PAC 12 net WAS pushed as a platform for Olympic sports. Problem is they don't actually televise Olympic sports. Skiing is an Olympic sport. No coverage. In spite of having the college ski equivalents of North Carolina and Kentucky in their conference (to use a hoops metaphor, feel free to use Ohio State and Alabama for football reference).
     
  5. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Ski is not a Pac-12 sport.
     
  6. Buffalo Brad

    Buffalo Brad Club Member Club Member

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    As the article said, the pressure is going to ramp up when football season gets here and the games are relegated to regional broadcasts. I know that there is not as much fan support in the PAC as there is in other conferences, but this is going to ratchet up the pressure in the coming months.
     
  7. sackman

    sackman Club Member Club Member

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    So?
    Utah and CU are two of the most dominant ski programs in the country. Something like 40 national championships between them. Those are two PAC 12 schools.
    The fact that skiing isn't a PAC 12 sport is meaningless in my estimation.
     
  8. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Not if the Pac-12 doesn't have broadcast rights. Seems to be something between Pac-12 and MPSF (women's lacrosse and other sports), but there may not be anything done between Pac-12 and RMISA. I agree that there should be. I don't think RMISA actually has any media happening outside of social media.
     
  9. Bufffan68

    Bufffan68 Club Member Club Member

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    It was an excellent article...occasional misspelling not withstanding.
     
    MiamiBuffs likes this.
  10. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    Criticizing misspellings, grammar errors and the like is very much a glass houses situation for me with a blog. :D
     
    Bufffan68 likes this.
  11. Big Jim

    Big Jim WTF? Club Member

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    Wait, I thought it was the Pac-12 fans fault that the P12N is not available on DTV?
     
    CarolinaBuff and Buffs35 like this.
  12. BehindEnemyLines

    BehindEnemyLines beware the habu Club Member

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    Much better than anything any of the ol' bigTex conference hacks could gin up.

    If Scott does move on in a couple of years, what type of individual will the conference look for as his replacement?
     
  13. Mb2658

    Mb2658 Well-Known Member

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    If Guerrero was supposed to vote the way that the conference intended for him to vote and he changed his mind and went against this, why is it wrong for Scott to call him out? He was selected as a representative and put his personal views above the desire of the majority of the conference. Claiming that this was some sort of internal error would be ridiculous as no such error was made.
     
  14. Buffnik

    Buffnik Real name isn't Nik Club Member Junta Member

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    I agree with Rick George and Jon Wilner on this. Handle organizational matters internally. Larry Scott hurt himself more than anyone by airing the dirty laundry. Made him look weak, the conference look rudderless, and created even more animosity between conference ADs and the commissioner's office.
     
  15. sackman

    sackman Club Member Club Member

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    The column really illustrates what appears to be a growing divide between Scott and the ADs. Scott works for the Presidents, but he does so for the benefit of the ADs. That last part seems to have been forgotten. Or maybe Scott just didn't get that memo.
     
  16. cu62nu36

    cu62nu36 Club Member Club Member

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    What is the P12's interest in China?
     
  17. Mb2658

    Mb2658 Well-Known Member

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    Recruiting, obviously....
     
  18. onealcd

    onealcd Club Member Club Member

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    It's weird to me that a guy as intelligent as Larry Scott would not seek out the advice of some of the athletic directors. Obviously some of them suck and probably wouldn't offer much insight but there are some very competent ones that would be a hige resource for him.
     
  19. RollTad21

    RollTad21 Club Member Club Member

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    If Scott was to be fired, do we think George would be a candidate to replace him? I do and that scares me
     
  20. cu62nu36

    cu62nu36 Club Member Club Member

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    Looks more like expansion into unclaimed TV markets primarily with recruitment of foreign students, and their yuan, secondarily.

    The P12 revenue sports that would benefit from the increased athletic recruiting footprint would be confined to Men's basketball.
     
  21. Shldr2Shldr

    Shldr2Shldr Club Member Club Member

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    Olympic sports are popular over there, the pac-12 has lots of them, and it is a huge untapped media market.

    Also the west coast recruits a lot of students from asia, so it is good to advertise over there.
     
  22. J.R. Ewing

    J.R. Ewing Club Member Club Member

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    There is money to be made from sports in China. Apparently the Houston Rockets still get quite a bit of cash from Chinese viewers from their Yao days. They still had some courtside advertising is Chinese last time I was at a game.
     
    Shldr2Shldr likes this.
  23. Mb2658

    Mb2658 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I was being sarcastic but did a poor job of conveying it.
     
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  24. DBT

    DBT Club Member Club Member

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    When my kid was in China he went into Starbucks and ran into Delonte West. They chatted and Delonte said LeBron's mom was awesome. He didn't really say that, but my kid did talk to him for a bit.
     
  25. MiamiBuffs

    MiamiBuffs Wᴉɐɯᴉ qnɟɟs Club Member

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    The fan who realizes it isn't just about football has laid it out. B
     
  26. MiamiBuffs

    MiamiBuffs Wᴉɐɯᴉ qnɟɟs Club Member

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    LeBrons mom is tasty.
     
  27. onealcd

    onealcd Club Member Club Member

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    The kids China sends over for school are extremely smart, unlike the us where a ton of students are pushed through who shouldn't be there. Definitely a good move for the pac 12 I just think they should reuse some of those resources elsewhere. Too much emphasis IMO.
     

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