Its never good form to celebrate someone losing their job but after he looted the conference for millions of dollars, pissed away multitudes of millions in incompetent leadership and somehow figured out to not only drive the conference into a ditch AND off a cliff, I'm willing to make an exception for Larry Scott.
Twelve years! Larry Scott was allowed to fail for twelve years! Typically you only get to fail twelve years if your parent owns the company or you have military control. Its easily Larry Scott's most impressive accomplishment that he schmoozed university presidents that he got to keep his job for over a decade.
But that time is over and now it's time to start fixing a conference that is badly broken.
Inspired by that challenge, here is my list for the Top 5 Pac 12 fixes. These are all solutions to problems that the Pac 12 has been facing for years. Any candidate applying to be the next conference commissioner would be wise to just print these out and read them out loud for their entire interview. You can have them, take them, just please fix the conference!
Without further ado, here is this week's Top5Thurs:
Top 5 Pac 12 Fixes
5. Focus on football and basketball
- Sometimes the biggest problems require the simplest start. Instead of trying to untie the biggest knot in the conference, the next commissioner needs to refocus the league’s core philosophy: football and basketball. The effort to elevate Olympic sports was noble but a business failure. It doesn’t mean those athletes are any less impressive or that there’s no room at the table to showcase them in any way but rather the league needs to rebuild on the backs of football and basketball not water polo and golf.
4. Lean on USC
- Pac 12 fan and UofA alum Jody hates radio host me saying this; if the Pac 12 is going to plant its flag on a higher peak than Larry Scott’s anthill, they need USC to lead the way. The history, success and notoriety of USC athletics is the most nationally relevant in the conference. The next commissioner needs to lean on USC to get their shit together. Get a football coach that suits the program. Clay Helton may be a swell fella but he’s a terrible ambassador for Pac 12 football. Your industry, conference, league is only as relevant as its best performer. Right now, UW football is losing coordinators to Texas, Oregon has been in perpetual disarray since Chip Kelly departed, Arizona basketball has been in a slow, steady decline over the last five years and UCLA hoops most famous rep is a 68 year old unhinged and hilarious broadcaster. USC is the Pac 12's best chance to get back on top and the next commissioner needs to make it his or her's pet project.
3. Lead the NIL movement
- Across all leagues, entities that have disadvantages in resources and relevance rely on exploiting market inefficiencies to succeed. Think the Tampa Bay Rays and the Golden State Warriors.There aren’t many market inefficiencies left in college athletics but there could be with the NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) movement. The Pac 12 needs to lead. Enable as many athletes to make as much money as possible. Don’t resist the changing tide of tradition, ride the wave of radical revolution. Athletes making money in the Pac 12 should be a core principle. Finally flexing your big city muscles as a strength instead of a weakness would flip the Pac 12 playbook. Lead, and for a change, let other conferences follow.
2. Improve the Pac 12 Network
- Imagine your signature accomplishment after twelve years in power was a fart sound. Actually, that's not fair to a fart sound because at least a fart sound has some comedic value. It cannot be overstated how colossal of a failure the Pac 12 Network has been. From its initial rollout with confusing regional channels AND a primary channel to its perpetual unavailability across most television providers, nothing sums up Larry Scott like the channel he birthed. There are plenty of talented people who work on the network and their game broadcasts have been its strength but the channel never shook the feel of cable access programming with its studio shows and overall feel. The conference needs to move to Phoenix, partner with Cronkite and produce some actual compelling content. Has there ever been a single Pac 12 Network show you've seen quoted or used by another sports outlet? Have you stopped to watch anything on the channel other than a game? Juice up the channel with some actual content, bring in more compelling personalities and care whether people can actually watch it. Oh, and hire me.
1. Tuesday and/or Wednesday night football games
- Big and bold is what the Pac 12 needs to pull itself out of the hole Larry Scott dug. What sport has America shown to have a nearly insatiable appetite for? Football. What area has the conference fallen behind more than any other? Visibility. You have to manufacture a platform that will force people to pay attention. Competing with the NFL is dumb so Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights are out. Friday is a TV graveyard and a fertile recruiting night. Saturday night is already occupied by bigger and more important conferences and games. So that leaves Tuesday or Wednesday. The Pac 12 should treat that night like the NFL treats Sunday Night Football. Put your biggest games on. Make sure people are watching. Make sure people are talking about it the next day. The teams that play on Tuesday or Wednesday should get a bye week the following week. Games should start no later than 8 PM EST and be marketed relentlessly in the home market to ensure a quality turnout. TV networks would pay a premium to create another winning live sports event on an otherwise empty week night. It might sound crazy but it's not crazier than letting Larry Scott keep his job for twelve years and it might just work.