“Flailing”, Greedy Larry Scott Continues To Disappoint

John Canzano (OregonLive.com)  —  Can’t be easy to be the Pac-12 Conference right now.

The COVID-19 pandemic sure provided some cover, though, didn’t it?

The narrative over the past three months stopped being about how far the “Conference of Champions” is behind its peers when it comes to raising revenue and playing football. The focus also shifted temporarily from whether flailing conference commissioner Larry Scott would be retained when his contract expires in 2022.

Suddenly, Scott was sitting at the table with the other Power Five Conference commissioners talking about masks, tests and getting athletes back to campus. And now all eyes are on the upcoming football season and how football must find a way to be played.

Still, the conference outlook is shaky.

The Pac-12 lost nearly $16 million in revenue in the past three months. There were no March Madness payouts, no postseason play, no spring sports season, and the conference was forced to dip into conference reserves to help its members survive.

The Pac-12 Network laid off eight percent of its staff in April. It froze other positions and implemented 10 percent pay cuts for conference staffers. And Scott, who makes $5.3 million annually, announced he was taking a 20 percent pay cut, although that was an exercise in semantics that was noted by some of the conference’s athletic directors.

Scott’s voluntary cut was for only three months. It ends next week, at the end of June. He makes $441,667 per month. His pay cut amounted to $88,333 per month, times three. Total reduction: $265,000.

That’s only five percent of Scott’s annual salary. And if he’s not basing the cut off his gross pay, it will be a lower percentage. Which is only to say that if I’m one of the 12 university presidents and athletic directors, I’m looking at Scott today and wondering if he’s willing to start leading in a way he hasn’t before. Because what he has here is an opportunity to emerge from all of this with some momentum.

A to-do list for Scott:

• Extend his 20 percent pay cut through the end of the year.

• Declare the downtown San Francisco headquarters is an expense that no longer makes sense and seek cost-effective alternatives.

• Announce the Pac-12 will play football. Whether that happens in fall/spring and whether it includes other opponents or features that previously floated conference-exclusive schedule with no fans in stadiums — be the first to announce it will absolutely play.

• Give a hopeful update on the conference’s media rights deal that expires in 2024.

Not picking on Scott here. He’s one of the five major conference commissioners. But he’s the one I cover and he has bigger problems than the others. I was struck in the early stages of the pandemic that he didn’t lead as much as he waited for direction from his conference presidents and rubber-necked at the Big Ten and SEC. And frankly, if the Pac-12 is going to emerge from this with a chance, it needs to stop being a follower and start leading.

That starts with the big boss in the big office at the big conference headquarters that sit mostly empty these days in downtown San Francisco. The annual rent at headquarters is $8.1 million, with another $10.3 million in “deferred rent” that exists as a future liability.

Basically, the place is a money pit. Probably a good time to explore whether headquarters should be moved at the expiration of the lease. Also, the perfect time for Scott to go public and announce that he’s extending his 20 percent pay cut and will get by on $353,334 a month through December.

The media rights part of this is the most critical part. The current deal with Fox and ESPN expires in 2024. The negotiation timeline for that is complicated by Scott’s own contract, which ends (2022) just as the real talks would be ramping up. But the conference needs to be plotting now.

It should be working to advance the media rights possibilities with Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Yes, even as it is currently under contract with Fox and ESPN. Yes, just like the SEC, which leapfrogged its current partner to get to a far more lucrative deal down the road with CBS.

Plain and simple. A growing Pac-12 partnership or even the illusion of one with a tech company is a wise move right now.

In April, Pac-12 Networks president Mark Shuken floated just that in an interview with the Sports Business Journal. I saw that as a promising bit of strategy by Shuken, no doubt planted with intention. But that can’t be all there is to that.

Amazon already has the NFL. It’s signed on for an expanded and exclusive partnership with the league. It doesn’t need the Pac-12 to matter in households. But the conference desperately needs it. Not just as a potential partner, but to use as leverage in the event that Fox/ESPN/CBS don’t come to the table in a meaningful way in the coming months.

There’s no telling what this pandemic is going to do to television advertising revenue. If there’s a football season, the Pac-12 Network will save money on production costs because it won’t have on-site pre-game remote shows. If there are games, it will still collect cable fees and the conference will fulfill its existing television obligations that generate revenue. So the short-term appears sustainable as long as football happens, but I’m more into the long play here.

So are a lot of Pac-12 fans, apparently.

I’ve received a growing number of inquiries from fans across the conference who expressed a desire to pay for the Pac-12 content on a pay-per-view basis. It’s not the worst idea floated. But the conference tells me it’s prohibited by its current distribution agreement from distributing the Pac-12 channels individually outside a bundle.

Said Andrew Walker, a spokesperson: “Near-term options for enjoying Pac-12 Networks live TV coverage have not changed. Fans continue to have multiple options via cable and over-the-top distributors to enjoy all seven Pac-12 Networks channels. In terms of long-term possibilities, thanks to the optionality of controlling all of its media rights when they become available in 2024, the Pac-12 will have a number of distribution models to explore for all of its content.”

As I sift through that, pay-per-view very much feels like an option. Not the first option. Maybe not the best option. But one that exists and at a very basic level might provide a small bit of additional leverage to a conference desperately in search of it.

COVID-19 stinks.

There are far more important things than the sports world.

Coronavirus has exposed athletic departments that operated on thin margins with no safety net. It’s created all sorts of health and economic challenges. But also, it’s provided the Pac-12 with some cover and an opportunity to gain market share and improve its footing.

I’d like to see the conference emerge from the pandemic economically healthy, focused, and energized. I’m weary from watching it act more lamb than lion. And in the end, that’s leadership.

oregonlive.com

__________

TrojanDailyBlog members  —  Always feel free to add information or topics to the TDB which don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment. 

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Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 26, 2020 12:58 pm

Allen, I noticed you went from Mt Rushmore to Author. Quite an achievement my friend. What comes after Author and what is the trophy symbolize?

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 27, 2020 6:16 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Congrats SteveG! I thought Mt. Rushmore was reserved for the primary writer of this wonderful site. Or maybe Allen was getting his “woke” on, because it’s just a matter of time before Mt. Rushmore the monument is gone. After all, 2 of the 4 people were slave owners; Teddy R. was apparently a racial appropriator; and Lincoln was was too soft on the confederacy immediately after the war and he was a Republican.

I thought Allen was just being ahead of the curve.😂

Terrific Tommy
Knighted Member
June 26, 2020 11:00 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Are you serious Allen? This politically correct crap is totally out of control. Makes me want to move to Canada with the polar bears. 😣

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 26, 2020 12:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Perhaps because he is a white horse they could call him whitey? Just kidding, it would have to be something totally PC.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 27, 2020 6:18 am
Reply to  Steveg

Snowflake? That’s who is running the show these days…triggered snowflakes.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 26, 2020 7:51 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

As far as your hypothetical question about Gentlemen Clay, he could enter this year’s pre-schedule camp acting like Attilla the Hun, dragging the severed heads of recent victims of his sword behind him onto the practice field screaming like Saban—the team would either laugh or just look at the weirdo. No way would they feel any pressure to perform better. Uncle Clay is just too ingrained in the minds of everybody Helton is in contact with: Coach Creampuff.

Jamaica
Knighted Member
June 26, 2020 10:17 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Helton wasn’t hired to win football games, he was hired to babysit players keeping USC football out of trouble. He has been paid well in doing just that. But it has come at a high cost of program regression & embarrassment. Clay Helton will never be the kind of coach needed to lead a program to championship level no matter how good a coaching staff he has. You & I can take that to the bank!

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 26, 2020 12:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Helton did accomplish what he was hired for, end the chaos and bring integrity back to the USC program. I do believe he has done that, what I cannot believe is that after proving he is at best mediocre, he is still in a coaching position and that they did not “promote” him to an athletic staff position.

gametv
Active Member
June 26, 2020 10:24 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think that holding your coaches responsible is even more important than that. I wonder if the players see Clay is not willing to kick Drevno to the street. The players can see that Drevno cant get the best o-line recruits to come to SC. But it impacts the whole team. Do the running backs get frustrated that they get less touches because they are met in the backfield by opposing defenses – YES. Does the defensive line get frustrated that they dont have a tough o-line to practice against – YES. In my opinion, the o-line performance is going… Read more »

Jamaica
Knighted Member
June 26, 2020 10:45 am
Reply to  gametv

gametv you have mirrored what some of us have been saying for the past 2-years anyway. The continual poor OL performance affects the whole team one way or another. Bohn should have made it a priority in removing Drevno during the end of the season purge of the defensive staff and didn’t. He didn’t fix the most glaring weakness on the team.

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
June 24, 2020 11:02 pm

When I think of failures of the PAC 12 I think of how poorly the PAC 12 channel performed. I have lost track but the last time I looked the channel isn’t available on many major providers. I have never understood this practice. If you want sell your products you need exposure.
I think part of the problem is the lack of programming on the PAC 12. All of this falls on Larry Scott, which begs the question what does he do to earn three years worth of my average yearly salary every month? (Based on his lowered salary)

Jamaica
Knighted Member
June 24, 2020 10:02 pm

Hiring a smooth talker who’s claim to fame was commissioner of the Women’s Professional Team Tennis (which i am not sure it is still around), just tells you how big a priority sports is to most of the PAC-12 presidents. Giving him a huge salary for what he has done for the conference just confirms it. How can you respect people like that?

Terrific Tommy
Knighted Member
June 24, 2020 9:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Great attitude and very mature — but in his private moments, I find it hard too believe he wouldn’t have traded places with Tom Brady in a nanosecond. 

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 25, 2020 4:49 am
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

He got paid, his brain is not scrambled, has faith in the Lord and a great wife and family. Pretty good result, set for life financially.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 25, 2020 4:47 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Emmanuel spoke with the perspective of a 29 year-old. In other words, last month is ancient history to that age group.

gametv
Active Member
June 26, 2020 10:17 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

ATL – I think that SC fans who are a bit older over-estimate SC’s place in the football world, based on past glory. Winning is based on having the ability to re-stock your team with great players every year and many of those young players really dont know and dont care about the past glory years of SC. SC has so many recruiting advantages, but has the really big problem that recruits dont trust Clay Helton’s program to put them into the NFL. If a player cares about his education and an NFL career is only one part of the… Read more »

gametv
Active Member
June 26, 2020 11:16 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

So tell me how UCLA and USC’s football heritage helps them on the field in the coming season? Do those great players from the past show up on the field and start playing instead of the players we have on the field now? Do the coaches suddenly get better? The only way that the USC brand and heritage help is that the best coaches and players are willing to come and be part of it. But if the USC administration is not willing to replace the head coach with a top notch coach, then they essentially give up any benefit… Read more »

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 26, 2020 12:54 pm
Reply to  gametv

Heritage plays a huge roll in a football program. I look at Notre Dame, quite a heritage there, along with Alabama and others.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 24, 2020 2:19 pm

We all agree that Scott is the biggest rip off artist in history, and these poor lazy college presidents need to get rid of him and his staff and start fresh with someone with a brain and balls.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 25, 2020 4:45 am
Reply to  Steveg

So no women need apply?😀

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 26, 2020 12:46 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Oh man, I forgot about Title IX and equal rights…again. But good point,as long as she is not a hardcore feminist type.

gametv
Active Member
June 24, 2020 1:24 pm

Why wouldnt the athletic directors and university presidents decide to shit-can this guy? I dont have any idea of the contractual relationship, but there needs to be a plan to eliminate Scott from the Pac-12, or else have each university leave the Pac-12 and start a new conference. His salary should be cut 50%, not 20%. Larry has created a great deal for himself, and delivers nothing for the schools. There really is NO scenario where Scott should remain after 2022. My guess is that athletic directors like Bohn and the Jarmon at UCLA can come in and shake things… Read more »

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
June 24, 2020 2:18 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

One of the things I love about JDR.

PN4SC
Noble Member
June 24, 2020 8:00 pm
Reply to  Steveg

I love JDR, wish he would have replaced Helton. Sure hope he doesn’t cave in like Gundy and produce a “hostage” video disavowing his beliefs.
As for Larry Scott- never has someone been paid so much to produce so little.Why is that dirtbag still employed by the conference?

Trojan96
Knighted Member
June 24, 2020 10:12 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

😂😂😂. Typical bad ass linebacker. Always been a fan of JDR.

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 25, 2020 3:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I wonder if Goodell will call him in for a little meeting to “get his mind right….” The League is so SJW woke now, I wonder how their ratings will be this season?

ATL D.D.S.
Diamond Member
June 24, 2020 12:05 pm

Larry won’t do Sh1t diddley.