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Scott: No major changes in Pac-10 until 2012

7/29/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

LOS ANGELES -- East Coast bias? "Bah!" says new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. He wants to talk about a "West Coast advantage."

That was the catch phrase Scott returned to often during his sit-down with a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon on Pac-10 media day eve.

It's clear Scott, the former chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, built his reputation on aggressive marketing. While many on the West Coast are wringing their hands over other BCS conferences, such as the Big Ten and SEC, outperforming the Pac-10 in terms of generating revenue, Scott is thinking big and talking about taking the conference's footprint global.

Of course, what most Pac-10 fans want to know is how quickly the conference can sign better bowl and television contracts that offer more national exposure and generate additional revenue. They also want to know about the potential for expansion and, while we're thinking big, what about a playoff?

That's where things get tricky.

The short version: Nothing big is going to happen before the 2011-2012 academic year, when the conference's current television contracts expire.

At that point, Scott said, the conference's long-term direction likely will be decided with a media deal that could extend 20 years into the future.

Scott called the interim a good thing. He only took over for the retiring Tom Hansen on July 1, so he's still in the early stages of learning what the job entails. And this economy isn't exactly ideal for making a mega-deal.

"I'm not sure we'd get maximum value at this time," he said.

Scott also confessed that his perception of Pac-10 football before taking the job was that it was "not in the top class."

Scott has been living in St. Petersburg, Fla., over the past six years: "Gator country," he said.

Then he learned about the Pac-10's record in nonconference games and bowls.

"The perception seems to be off with the reality," he said.

Other highlights of his 90-minute chat:

  • When he was first hired, Scott implied that he was open to a discussion of alternatives to the BCS, a take he quickly clarified because it ran counter to the conference's official position, which he reiterated: "The Pac-10's position is crystal clear... deep and unwavering support for the BCS," he said. "And, by the way, there's a contract [which runs through 2014]."

  • As for talk of a Pac-10 network, Scott emphasized that won't happen until the current TV deals expire, but "It's certainly an intriguing possibility."

  • As for the SEC's recent 15-year, $2.2 billion deal with ESPN and CBS, Scott called it "staggering" but added, "I'm thrilled... it's raised the bar for everyone."

  • Speaking on the Pac-10 bowl deals, Scott strongly intimated that there won't be major changes. As for a potential new deal with the Alamo Bowl, he said it was "too early to predict."

  • Scott was asked about expansion. He called it a complex issue that wouldn't come up before the present TV contracts end. "I do know the conference has looked at it from time to time, but not seriously very recently."

  • He was asked if complaints about football and basketball officiating were merely an issue among fans or had risen to an administrative issue. He said, "I'm aware there is a dialogue... [but] it is not on the plate requiring urgent attention."

  • As for the NCAA and Pac-10 investigations of USC's basketball and football programs, he said the investigations were "ongoing" and he wouldn't predict when they might conclude. 

  • While he didn't provide specifics, it was clear that Scott plans to focus on using new media to increase the conference's exposure, which suggests the official website will be upgraded in the coming months. 

  • Scott said the conference could find new forms of revenue in international markets, particularly along the Pacific Rim. He noted that UCLA has 70 stores selling Bruins apparel in China.