The latest developments in the college football-led conference restructuring merry-go-round have transported me back to the Pleistocene era of journalism. At the time, I was working in nostalgic Los Angeles, working as a summer news desk clerk among Telex machines, pneumatic tubes, and a desk drawer full of booze. Herald Examiner.
A sign on the editor’s desk caught my eye: “Deadline is a two-syllable word.” Brief and sly, the words were a mockery of one of the newsroom’s most sacred tenets: he never misses deadlines.
But in the digital age of continuous publishing, the notion of a deadline, a blend of two of Merriam-Webster’s more articulate words, has somehow become flexible. rice field. That change reminds me of San Diego State University’s recent maneuvers.
A deadline was looming to notify Mountain West at 11 p.m. Otherwise, the exit fee would double to about $36 million.
Problem: San Diego State University didn’t have an offer from the Pac-12 conference.
Reason: Pac-12 did not have a media rights agreement. (More on this later.)
As the hourglass emptied on Friday, the Pac-12 prime ministers and presidents met again to receive regular updates on media rights negotiations. San Diego then informed Mountain West that it would maintain the status quo. At this point.
It was not surprising that this happened on June 30th.
On this day last year, Pac-12 football and basketball flag-bearers Southern California and UCLA decided to enter the Big Ten when the Pac-12’s television contract expires after the 2023-24 season, marking the end of college athletics. Surprised me.
This opened the door of opportunity for San Diego State University, which had long aspired to transition to the Pac-12. Not only does this give legitimacy to athletics, it puts the California State University school on par with Berkeley, California. It is the flagship school of the more prestigious University of California system.
It requires a three-step process. First, the Pac-12 would secure a media rights deal. The remaining 10 members (preferred by Pac-12) will then sign a grant binding them to participate in the conference for the duration of the Media Rights Agreement. And finally, the conference will consider expansion.
A year later, the Pac-12 is still in first gear.
Current contracts with ESPN and FOX expire after this season. When I signed the media deal, I found myself being chosen among several options. Performed with Fox, CBS and NBC. The Southeastern Conference’s 10-year deal with ESPN begins next year, while the Atlantic Coast Conference’s deal with ESPN runs through 2036.
As such, there’s very little room in the broadcast schedule to showcase the Pac-12.
“The problem for Pac-12 is that all the other cards have been dealt,” said sports media rights consultant Ed Desser, who said the only coveted slot was ESPN’s Saturday night. , ESPN, pointed out that it would be Friday night on Fox. Apple or Amazon.
Negotiations have stalled for several reasons.
First, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kryavkov tried last fall to persuade the University of California Regents to block UCLA’s secession, which would have given the council valuable Los Angeles media market. . (In December, the board voted not to block the move.)
Also last fall, a number of media companies began layoffs almost across the board, most notably Disney, which owns ESPN, announcing it would cut 7,000 jobs to deal with the continued impact of the cut cords. And while streaming platforms like Apple and Amazon may be attractive, these companies are unlikely to see sports programming (not the NFL) as essential.
It soon became clear that tensions in the media industry would show up in the second rights deal. Shortly after the Big 12 deal of $31.7 million per school was deemed broadly undermarket, the Pac-12 lowered its estimate of the deal UCLA could achieve if it remained by 10%.
Then there was the delay.
Expectations of an agreement by the start of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament led to expectations of an agreement by the final four. and until mid-April. And maybe by early summer. Here, the premise is that the announcement will come before his July 21 Pac-12 Football Media Day, so the main storyline of the event will actually be football.
Of course, the content of the agreement has an impact.
The Big 12, which added Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston on Saturday, could lose Texas and Oklahoma this time next year, but the Pac-12 schools are so dissatisfied that they’ll jump at any significant underpayment. want to pull out What the Big 12 are receiving.
In that case, it probably wouldn’t take long for Colorado and Arizona to secede, or Utah to secede, for Pac-12 to collapse.
These are the scenarios that San Diego State University had to play out. The Aztecs are one step away from winning the Men’s Basketball Championship and have a well-known status, quietly displaying a capable football team on a regular basis. They agreed in 2011 to move to the Big East for football and play the Big West for other sports. Two years later, however, the agreement was broken and they remained in Mountain West.
Last month, San Diego President Adela de la Torre sent a letter to Mountain West saying the school intended to pull out and asked for more time. Letters were sent back and forth in rapid succession.
Ultimately, San Diego State University, like many companies before it, decided that withdrawal from the conference might be negotiable. So the school concluded that if a transition to the Pac-12 were to materialize, the deadline would be just barely met.