Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss commissioner Larry Scott’s departure from the Pac-12, how he failed to deliver in multiple ways, and who should replace him come June.
DAN WETZEL: The Pac-12, they finally took out Larry Scott, who made a nice penny. Was famed for moving his offices to downtown San Francisco. Great list here from John Canzano, our buddy out at Oregon Live, "The Oregonian"-- has a great talk show out there-- of some of the expenses that Larry Scott racked up. He really had the champagne tastes. There was the $5.3 million in salary, the chartered jets, the lavish hotel suites, a $1.9 million interest-free loan--
PAT FORDE: How about that?
DAN WETZEL: --that-- I want those-- that as far as anyone knows, there's not any payment on. The $7 million in rent for the San Francisco offices. Downtown San Francisco not a cheap place to have. He also ran the network.
PETE THAMEL: Correct.
DAN WETZEL: And he ran that poorly. And that was one of his problems was it's two separate jobs.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: You can't be in charge-- to be a network executive and to also run an athletic conference, there's not really any carryover in those two things. It's two totally different skill sets, two huge jobs, but he took both and then mismanaged both of them.
Look, here's the thing. I think a lot of people look and say, look, the football programs are not doing well. The network isn't doing well. He has not advocated for his schools. The COVID thing, they were very reactionary.
No commissioner could make the Pac-12 as popular as the SEC or the Big Ten. It's a different culture. The people in California are not all gonna become college sports fans the way-- not that all of them are in the others, but the same level of preponderance is not gonna be there. What's reasonable in who they should hire and maybe what that person should try to accomplish?
PAT FORDE: I think the biggest thing the league needs is someone who can strike a better media deal and someone who can be a forceful advocate for playoff expansion. I think those are your two primary goals for a commissioner. You can certainly advocate within your membership, hey, let's do what we can to make football good on your campus from an expenditure standpoint, from a commitment standpoint. But, really, your role is probably gonna be more media rights and playoff expansion.
PETE THAMEL: I wrote a column for Yahoo that went up on Thursday afternoon. It basically said Larry Scott got to the Pac-10 in 2009, and the Pac-12 was lagging behind in revenue, lacking in national relevancy, and not being able to compete with the other major conferences. Now he changed that trajectory for the first five or six years of his time there.
They had a historic television deal. They got brought on the network. They were buzzy. They were edgy. They were ahead. The problem was the back half of that deal, they didn't really do anything to supplement the money.
Everyone passed them. And, essentially, 11 years later, the Pac-12 is right where Larry Scott found them as the Pac-10. They are lagging far behind in revenue, they don't really have a plan for the network, and their teams are hurting competitively because they don't have the same amount of revenue coming in.
Pat's right. Media expertise is going to be a huge piece of this. Because I think Scott's biggest failure was casting himself as a media expert and then failing with the Pac-12 Network. He even said to me on the phone last night, we'll see in '23-'24. This could be the best thing that ever happened to the Pac-12. They'd have full ownership of this thing.
I'm sorry, I think that's preposterous. Building the Pac-12 Network, housing it in San Francisco, spending that money on it-- in '23-'24, owning that-- I just think they got sold a bill of goods with that at this point. For years, that was his big play. And now he'll be long gone, diving into his pool of money in his hot tub when that thing comes to roost.