USA Today Sports/Terjada

Criticism of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott turns into fodder this week at Sports Illustrated and ESPN

FOR PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott, the West Coast rumblings of recent months about his member schools' disappointment with the lackluster revenue performance of the Pac-12 Networks has now developed into a national discussion about his seat at the head of the conference. When both Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples and ESPN's Paul Finebaum are talking, independently, about the heat rising on your rear end, you know things are bad.

Staples opined here Monday that Scott "has his share of detractors within the league, largely because they dislike his management style and the fact the Pac-12 Network—Scott's signature creation—has not generated the kind of revenue for which conference members had hoped" but that his public chastising last week of UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero for messing up the Pac-12's vote on satellite camps puts extra blood in the water.

While Pac-12 schools do indeed oppose the NCAA ban on satellite camps, the thinking from Staples is that throwing one of your own under the bus is an egregious breach of decorum that heightens the "simmering bitterness" over what he promised with the Pac-12 Networks versus what's being delivered.

Staples noted in his column that WSU AD Bill Moos' letter to boosters earlier this year about department finances spelled out that each Pac-12 school is receiving $1.4 million annually from the Pac-12 Networks vs. the $5 million to $6 million Scott projected when launching the network in 2011. To make matters worse, Big Ten and SEC schools are estimated to be receiving veritable windfalls from their networks.

Meanwhile, on ESPN, Finebaum asks if Scott -- "who came in there a couple years ago on a white horse" -- is unraveling as the leader of the conference. John Canzano of the Portland Oregonian tells Finebaum ithis interview that conference athletic directors are frustrated and their frustration is starting to trickle up to university presidents, who ultimately decide who their conference commissioner is.

Canzano pointed out that a number of schools, including WSU, invested in new facilities based in part on Scott's Pac-12 Networks projections. He cites, among Scott's failures, the inability to reach a carriage agreement with DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite TV provider; the fact many Pac-12 Network games are not broadcast in high definition; kickoffs are at all hours of the day; and many games are broadcast regionally rather than West Coast wide.

When Canzano stated that many Pac-12 fans this football season -- namely the 40 percent of Portland residents who subscribe to DirecTV -- won't easily be able to watch their teams, Finebaum, who focuses mostly on the SEC, shook his head in what could only be described as stunned disgust.

"There are a lot of people who are upset. I've heard some say 'you know, what are we going to do ... I guess this is better than what it was.' But there are a lot other people saying 'look, he was a great start but as a commissioner maybe we need someone who can take us to the next level ..." Canzano said.


Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News talked about the Pac-12's "massive revenue gap with the SEC and Big Ten" in his blog on Tuesday and believes the Pac-12 "will never be on equal footing when it comes to Tier 1 money … because of the difference in fan passion and market penetration for advertisers, and there is a very clear and recent example to illustrate this situation: Spring game attendance." He then listed the attendance of 36 spring games. What stands out at one end is the 65,000 to 100,000 people who took in the Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska, Tennessee and Penn State games , and the 1,500 to 8,000 who turned out for the Arizona, Cal, Stanford, WSU, Colorado, Utah and UCLA games. WSU's spring game number was 4,129.

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