College Football Analyst Describes Differences Between Pac-12, Big 12 Meetings

May 8, 2023, 11:36 PM

Pac-12, Big 12...

The Pac-12/Big 12 drama continues as the PAC works through getting a media rights deal put together. (Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Pac-12/Big 12 debates rage on for another week. Coming out of last week’s spring Fiesta Summit in Arizona, there is even more confusion on where things stand with a Pac-12 media rights deal or potential Big 12 expansion.

Mixed reports emerged on whether ESPN has pulled out of negotiations for Pac-12 media rights. CBS’ Dennis Dodd reported that ESPN was “out” with the Pac-12. At the same time, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach and Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger report that the Pac-12 is still talking with ESPN.

Regardless of the confusion over the media rights, meetings still took place for conference commissioners with their athletic directors and coaches from football and men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The Fiesta Summit meetings are often a way for these conferences to discuss important issues in college athletics. Plus, the futures of the leagues.

Former Washington and NFL QB Brock Huard was at the Pac-12 and Big 12 meetings.

Brock Huard impressed with the momentum from Big 12

Huard, a current FOX college football analyst and radio host for Seattle Sports, was a guest on the KSL Sports Zone’s Hans & Scotty G to discuss the meetings. He saw a noticeable difference between the two leagues.

“I was in Arizona on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I got to see Kyle [Whittingham] and his wife on Monday night at dinner,” said Huard to the KSL Sports Zone’s Hans & Scotty G. “I got to mingle with a lot of the coaches and the ADs and the Commissioner (George Kliavkoff), and then we did the same the next night with the Big 12. And I will tell you, you could not have had two different environments.

“The Tuesday night get-together and shindig with the Big 12, there was so much momentum, so much energy. You know, the first-year Commissioner (Brett Yormark) is a driver. He is an expansionist … aggressive, and you feel it. The conference is following that lead as they got their TV deal, and they’re not done.”

Since Brett Yormark took over as the Big 12 Commissioner on August 1, the league has secured its future with a new media rights package with ESPN and Fox. The media rights money per team is projected to be $31.5 million, more than the league made with Texas and Oklahoma in the conference.

Yormark has also announced exhibition basketball events at Rucker Park, a conference-wide NFL Pro Day in Texas, and there have been reports on football and basketball games being played in Mexico.

Thoughts on Pac-12 meetings

Amidst all of those moves, the Pac-12 has remained silent as they continue to work on securing its future with a media rights package.

“On the flip side, the night before with the Pac-12, I’m not going to say survivalist, but it was not a lot of vision cast,” Huard said. “And how could it be with so much unknown in a media deal that, as one AD told me, ‘It’s close.’ But close is good for horseshoes and that’s not good in this business because we’ve got to get this deal done.”

Like the Big 12, the Pac-12 lost two bell cow brands when USC and UCLA announced they were going to the Big Ten. Since that day on June 30 last year, the Pac-12 has been working to secure its future. Huard, who is part of the Pac-12’s Football Alumni Council, shared his thoughts on the vision he heard from the league’s commissioner.

“Well, it was hard for me to listen to George Kliavkoff. I’ve been around him probably half a dozen times, and I sit on their alumni council. I’ve actually really appreciated much of his tone and tenor. I thought last year at Media Days he was bold, borderline gruff. … Showed his disappointment in USC and UCLA leaving, and all of that. I thought he handled it really well. This is the first time Monday night, where I’m like, ‘I don’t like the sound of that.’ I don’t need to hear about the water polo team and that you guys went 19-2 out of conference.”

Huard’s hunch: A media rights deal “is there” for the Pac-12

Huard then added what he feels the Pac-12 and its respective markets need to hear during this time of uncertainty.

“What they need to hear is the direction; what they need to hear is that we’re close to a deal. And now, obviously, [Kliavkoff] can’t do that publicly and you don’t negotiate through the public and all of that. My gut and my hunch, Scotty, is that there is a deal there. But it’s not at the numbers anywhere near the number they want. It’s likely a deal that’s going to be spliced amongst a bunch of the networks. I thought the company that I worked with at Fox was out. I got a sense over this week that they’re not because right now, I think a lot of these networks are feeling some blood in the water that there may be a number now that, at first, the Pac-12 scoffed at. But now may have to live with and it may be a number that doesn’t compete with the Big 12 but is a number that at least keeps this group together.”

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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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College Football Analyst Describes Differences Between Pac-12, Big 12 Meetings