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With Bigger Fish To Fry, Pac-12 Skipper Signs Seafood Supplier To Exclusive Meat Deal

PAC12 Commissioner Larry Scott speaks to the media during PAC12 Media Days on July 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Despite having “bigger fish to fry,” the Pac-12 Conference continues to make deals that don’t address the giant issues looming over their head.

On Tuesday, the conference announced a multi-year partnership with Pacific Seafood. They will now serve as the official Meat and Seafood provider of the Pac-12.

While signing partnership agreements to help increase revenue for the conference is a good thing, it doesn’t eliminate the issues that have hampered the Pac-12 over the last 5-plus years.

This is further proof that Commissioner Larry Scott doesn’t have his priorities in order.

Network Issues

The Pac-12 Networks currently will not be broadcasting a football game this season, at least for the first six weeks. According to the Pac-12 contract, the conference has an agreement with both ESPN (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) and FOX (FOX, FS1) that started in 2012 and was a 12-year deal through 2023-24.

For regular season football games, the Pac-12 has to provide 44 total games, 22 to each ESPN and FOX networks. The Pac-12 Networks will televise the remaining football games where Pac-12 controls media rights.

Doing the math, the six game regular season would provide 36 games for ESPN and FOX to televise. If you count the seventh week, that is another six games, leaving 42 games to be broadcast. That’s why the Pac-12 Network is not televising any of the regular season games through the first six weeks.

So what will be appealing to the audience that turns the TV channel to the Pac-12 Networks when there isn’t a football game being broadcast? That leads me to the next issue.

Many employees were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic. While most are coming back, not everyone was re-hired and those that weren’t are now looking for work.

Finally – and this is a decade-long issue – what is the plan to expand distribution? DirecTV has never been a partner of the Pac-12 and it’s easy to assume that Commissioner Larry Scott has not called DirecTV in years. Compared to other conference networks, the Pac-12 is at the bottom in terms of viewership on a conference-run network, mainly because many people can’t get the channel. What about partnering with a streaming service? Lots of options out there that would get more eyes on the conference.

Revenue Issues

The rent in San Francisco issue is the giant elephant in the room that the conference, and Scott in particular, doesn’t want to address. The amount of money that the Pac-12 is spending to keep their headquarters and network studios in the Bay Area is unnecessary.

The conference signed an 11-year lease with Kilroy Realty Corporation to secure two floors and included 113,000 square feet of office space in downtown San Francisco. Last year, the Pac-12 paid $6.9 million in rent and another $11.7 million in deferred rent.

The next issue is what Pac-12 insider Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News found at the end of September. He reported that the conference paid out bonuses to executives and staff members one month before their massive layoffs and furloughs.

Larry Scott makes a lot of money. In fact, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Pac-12 Commissioner makes $4.8 million annually which more than the Big Ten and SEC Commissioner make combined.

Should Larry Scott reduce his salary in order to bring back more employees? Should the same be applied to higher executives within the conference?

Football Problems

Now we have covered the revenue and the Pac-12 Networks. Let’s dive into the issues on the football field. The officials have been an ongoing problem. Hopefully the hiring of Merton Hanks as the head of football operations will change the conference perception nationally.

The other low hanging fruit out there is the amount of conference games. The Pac-12 should be on the same page as the other Power-5 conferences and should lead the way to forming an agreement that all Power-5 conferences play the same amount of conference games. Whether that is 8 games or 9.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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