SALT LAKE CITY — Until further notice, the Pac-12 Conference and its television network — all of which fall under the direction of commissioner Larry Scott — is being watched.
That is what happens when a Power 5 conference, billed as the "Conference of Champions," struggles mightily on a national scale in the two largest, not to mention most profitable, collegiate sports: football and men’s basketball.
More so, the Oregonian’s recent dive into the host of issues that currently beset the conference has only served to increase scrutiny of the goings on in San Francisco.
CBSSports’ Dennis Dodd got in on that trend with his recent column "Pac-12 goes 'Shark Tank' route to keep pace off the field as it struggles to compete on it."
In it, Dodd looks at, well, almost everything to do with the Pac-12 and its current less-than-stellar reputation.
That includes finances, stock market options and overall valuations of the conference’s worth, not to mention its on the field performance, recent recruiting efforts and somewhat unparalleled coaching turnover. Oh, and don’t forget recent changes in high-level leadership at eight of the 12 member schools.
All told, the Pac-12 is struggling, says Dodd, and he provided bulleted evidence to that fact.
- "Pac-12 football just completed its 15th year without a national championship,” he wrote, “the longest drought among Power Five conferences. The league has missed the most College Football Playoffs (three of five) among its peers."
- "A season after being completely knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first weekend for the first time in 32 years, the Pac-12 may be a one-bid league this season."
- "The much-maligned Pac-12 Networks have sunk to the point that Oregon State is making about as much annually from the network as it is paying one of its coordinators."
- "Football attendance is down for the sixth straight season and at its lowest point since 1982. Games averaged 46,733 fans in 2018."
- "Someone out there doesn't seem to like Scott being in office. A series of stories in the Oregonian has featured sensitive leaks and documents that only those on the inside could know about."
- "The league continues to return the smallest percentage of revenue back to its members, at least among the Power Five. Scott's salary ($4.8 million) is more than the entire executive staff of the SEC ($3.7 million)."
- "The league recently contracted with the same public relations firm that gave us Spuds Mackenzie. The result was a 34-page brochure titled 'Communications Strategy Development Project.'"
To schedule or not to schedule
In more college football news, FBSchedules’ Amy Daughters decided to take advantage of the offseason — with spring football nearing by the day — to look at the equality of scheduling in the Power 5 conferences.
Needless to say, everything is not equal.
Daughters first noted that schedule strength only truly matters for the top-12 teams in the country in any given year, and that is only if the College Football Playoff committee truly puts an emphasis on who teams play.
“The truth is, the only potential hazard to under-scheduling occurs at the end of the regular season — when a program has a legitimate case to have its resume compared with other undefeated or one-loss teams vying for a coveted Playoff slot,” she wrote. “Even if the CFP committee follows through with its promise to consider schedule strength, its decision only affects the top 12 teams in the nation — the programs that qualify to participate in the New Year’s Six (which includes the two playoff games). That’s only 12 out of the 130 FBS teams (or 9% of the field) that are held to a scheduling standard with teeth — or real consequences.”
She then pointed out that for conferences that have scheduling mandates, those mandates are often ignored entirely.
Take Ohio State’s schedule for next season.
“Indeed, next season Ohio State finds its name listed among the eight teams not playing a Power opponent outside of non-conference action. The Buckeyes get FAU, Cincinnati, and Miami Ohio in 2019. As a disclaimer, the Bearcats are, like Fresno State, one of the Group of Five programs the Big Ten cherry-picked as 'Power' foes.”
Since scheduling difficult opponents only matters in playoff discussions and not in “bowl selection, division titles, conference championship game seedings and Top 25 rankings,” is there a benefit?
Other links (with a basketball focus)95 comments on this story
Mountain West rankings: Pack is the Pack; status quo reigns (Reno Gazette Journal)
And finally … a little bit of BYU news
Did you know BYU guard Jahshire Hardnett and his family were displaced from their home by Hurricane Katrina? Now he is on track to be the first member in his family to graduate from college.
Also, was this impressive technical display by former BYU soccer star Ashley Hatch worthy of a spot in SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays?
BYUtv’s Spencer Linton thinks so.