Larry Scott joined Kevin Warren as one of the only "reasonable," "data-driven" conference commissioners in college athletics Tuesday, at least according to the headlines.
The Pac-12 worked up the courage to announce the cancelling of fall sports, but only after its new big brother, the Big Ten, made the same announcement hours earlier. I can't help but wonder if the decision is yet another miscalculation by commissioner Larry Scott, whose salary sits atop all Power Five administrators at $5.3 million annually.
Scott surely decided that between the public's treatment of Cuomo, Ducey, Lightfoot and Trump, avoiding the pandemic problem altogether would get him in the least amount of trouble.
And, almost too conveniently, Scott didn't even have to make this decision himself. A scary report that dropped Monday made the decision for him.
The smoking gun, a rare heart condition linked to Covid-19, was exactly what the Pac-12 and Big Ten needed to shield themselves from most public criticism.
"Conference officials and athletic directors told ESPN that the uncertainty about the long-term effects of myocarditis has been discussed in meetings of presidents and chancellors, commissioners and athletic directors, and health advisory board members from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and other conferences around the country."
Oh, so the Big Ten and Pac-12 tipped ESPN off? Go figure.
Color me cynical, but was this not an attempt to create a media avalanche that would force the SEC, ACC and Big 12 to conform to Scott's, and Warren's decisions?
“If all the other leagues had the same medical information that we have, there’s not a president I know of that would look at what our (medical) staff provided and decide that it was OK to go forward.” a source told Jon Wilner at The Mercury News.
Yep, there it is.
ESPN's original article about myocarditis - the heart condition that may or may not be caused in higher levels due to coronavirus - will of course be shared thousands of times, with half-formed opinions attached, by people who didn't bother to read past the headline at all. If they had, they'd realize the huge flaw in its usage as a smoking gun.
“The condition is usually caused by a viral infection, including those that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza or mononucleosis. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest, which can be fatal. It is a rare condition, but the COVID-19 virus has been linked with myocarditis with a higher frequency than other viruses, based on limited studies and anecdotal evidence since the start of the pandemic.”
Throughout the pandemic, I've been told by experts not to trust so-called "limited studies" - like the kind that showed early positive results for controversial drugs - and I've been told never to trust anecdotal evidence. Anybody with any STEM background would tell you that.
Yet, limited studies and anecdotal evidence are exactly what Larry Scott and Kevin Warren are using to justify shutting down fall sports.
Nevertheless, the Big 12 didn't take the bait.
So, the Big 12 will go on to collect millions from its football revenues, and the Pac-12, and Big Ten will not. Well, that is, if the Big 12 goes off without a hitch. That's a big if. But if that if turns out to be true, the Big 12 will presumably collect hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year the conference brought in upwards of $516 million from football alone. The SEC did even better. The ACC did slightly worse. Ticket, parking and venue revenue will be lost in 2020, but at least the aforementioned leagues - if they play - will fulfill their television obligations.
Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is planning a "mammoth" loan program to bail its member schools out.
What if the Big 12 pulls this off? What if the SEC and ACC follow suit, as they're expected to? What if the ratings go through the roof, a quasi-national champion is crowned and the Pac-12 and Big Ten are left holding the bag?
Kevin Warren will be fine. He just signed as Big Ten commissioner in 2019. His conference is perennially in the College Football Playoff. His conference's television contract is monstrous.
Larry Scott's contract ends in 2022. His conference is not a regular participant in the College Football Playoff. The Pac-12's television contract is famously bad.
It seems Scott - as always - tried to play the role of Littlefinger here, but ended up playing himself.