- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Pac-12 really doesn't want Larry Scott to leave, which is why the conference board of directors unanimously decided to extend his contract through 2016.
Scott, 47, has done more in two years than just about any of the five commissioners before him. Combined.
That, by the way, was by design and doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on those who preceded Scott. The five before him were told to maintain the traditions of the conference. They did. But the world changed. Scott was asked to save the conference from becoming obsolete.
Which he did.
With a bang, see expansion from 10 to 12 teams, the addition of North and South Divisions and a conference championship game. See a 12-year, $3 billion TV deal. See the founding of the Pac-12 Network as well as six regional networks. See a transformation of the conference's personnel, corporate structure, way of doing business and top-to-bottom philosophy.
"He's transformed the Pac-12," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said before the 2011 football season. "He took an undervalued, underexposed asset and shined a light on it with these incredible TV deals."
Arizona, UCLA, Washington State and Arizona State all hired new head coaches and were able to pay them roughly $2 million a year. Washington hired five new staff members and will pay its assistants an SEC-ish $2.73 million in 2012, which is more than any Pac-12 staff was paid in 2011.
That's also on Scott.
Some have dismissed Scott landing the mega-TV deal with ESPN and Fox as serendipity. Scott got lucky with the timing, they say. Funny thing is: Not a single so-called pundit predicted the number Scott ended up getting. How often does a business deal exceed all expectations, particularly in a down economy? Remember that $2 million payout USC and UCLA negotiated for themselves if the total TV revenue's didn't eclipse $170 million a year?
The big question with Scott may be how long he will feel challenged by being Pac-12 commissioner. Is he a lifer? Will he stick around for 26 years, like his predecessor Tom Hansen did?
I doubt it. Scott strikes me as the sort who likes action, and things might be settling down a bit in the conference. The Pac-12 Networks will launch in August. Bowl contracts run through 2013. Further conference expansion -- or "contraction," as Scott calls it -- is possible, perhaps probable. Scott has an ambitious, high-tech global vision.
Still, what's ahead doesn't seem likely to be as frenetic as what is behind.
You'd expect Scott's performance maneuvering through multiple, highly complicated business transactions raised more than a few eyebrows out there in corporate America. How long before someone comes after him with an offer he can't refuse?
Contract terms weren't disclosed, but you'd expect Scott, who took over the Pac-12 after six years as head of the Women's Tennis Association, received a significant raise from a contract that paid him $1.5 million a year, not including incentive-based bonuses, which likely were substantial. Still, top CEOs who are accomplishing almost nothing have made a lot more money than the Pac-12 can pay Scott.
Where might Scott be in 2017? Maybe the head of a network's sports division.
Heck, maybe the head of a network.