Commissioner Larry Scott Admits There Is An ‘East Coast Media Bias’ Toward Pac-12
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Pac-12 has to work harder than any other power conference for attention on the national scene when it comes to college football.
This is especially noticeable when USC is not in the conversation for a College Football Playoff berth. The rest of the league is put on the back burner with a lot of people asking, ”when will USC be back?”
There are some really good teams in the Pac-12 but the league has a perception problem. The league has little control over some of the reasons for the issue. One is that teams are on the West Coast which means later kickoffs for TV, especially for viewers on the East coast.
National pundits like ESPN’s Paul Finebaum, who is SEC-focused, seemingly has something against not only Utah but the Pac-12 in general by saying they are inferior.
Exposure Is A Big Issue
This is not to say the league has issues with being nationally relevant which not only includes the unfixable geography and time zone issue, but also the Pac-12 Network has been a complete failure in generating TV ratings and revenue.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott recognizes the issues in the league and expounded upon those disadvantages when he joined KSL Unrivaled.
“We know how strong and deep the conference is out here, but we also realize there is a perception challenge and an East Coast media bias. There is also a little bit of out of sight out of mind,” Scott said. “There are some structural challenges with time zone-wise. We certainly don’t have the same population and size of the fanbase. We don’t have 90,000-seat stadiums throughout our conference that we are regularly filling, like some other parts of the country. There are social, political, historical, and cultural differences that all contribute to the attendance and TV ratings.”
Not getting into the College Football Playoff is eating at Scott and the league because making that field of four equates to massive prestige. The league was close last year with Utah on the cusp but overall since the inception of the four-team field, the Pac-12 has the fewest amount of appearances with two which is two less than the Big Ten and Big 12.
“We talk about that a lot. Not having made the College Football Playoff the last couple of years, we created a working group of coaches and athletic directors to make sure we can do everything we can,” Scott said. “Not only to battle that but to talk about if there is anything we can do as a collective league in terms of how we schedule to succeed.
“Once the playoff started, it became clear that has become a measuring stick for who are the best conferences in the country. There is a gap of perception that the conference lags behind. This past year, Utah and Oregon were both top 10 for most of the year and it came down to the end of the season and had a chance to be in the playoffs. We know how close our programs are and if you look at the NFL Draft, the caliber of athletes going on to play on Sunday. There is a perception problem we are fighting.”
One way to fight that perception is to not only win games but travel to play teams in the SEC, Big Ten, and other Power 5 programs on their home field. These are not one-and-done games but the league needs to play at those other power conference teams to be seen. Winning is not enough but winning against good teams and in front of a lot of people.
The Pac-12 can’t get past games kicking at 10:30 p.m. ET outside of not playing night games. Perhaps the conference can adjust and limit those but they will always be there.
Usually winning is the cure-all but the Pac-12 needs more than that to garner respect.
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