Pac-12: Dan Beebe

Larry 'Ca-ching' Scott is in the money

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
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Commissioner Larry Scott has opened up a new financial frontier for the Pac-12 -- most notably a $3 billion TV deal and a new network -- but he ain't doing too badly himself.

USA Today published the 2010 salaries of college conference commissioners Wednesday, and Scott came out on top with $1.9 million in compensation.

Also on the books for Scott:

Scott also has received a loan of nearly $1.9 million from the conference, and as of June 30, 2011, the balance due was unchanged from its original amount, according to the return the conference filed last week and provided in response to a request from USA TODAY Sports.

"The loan has to be repaid fully," Pac-12 spokesman Dave Hirsch said.


The Big Ten's Jim Delany made nearly $1.8 million, the ACC's John Swofford nearly $1.5 million and the SEC's Mike Slive just more than $1 million. Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, who resigned last September, received nearly $1.7 million, according to USA Today, while outgoing Big East commissioner John Marinatto netted about $600,000.

The man Scott replaced, Tom Hansen, made $590,000 in 2008.

Note of the day: 'Fair weather' Pac-10 fans?

June, 16, 2010
6/16/10
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A couple of you wrote notes not unlike this one:

Chris from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, writes: What's your take on the comments by the Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that Pac-10 fans are " fair weather." Me? I find it a insulting and desperate coming from someone about to lose his golden pay check. From what I understand, his legacy is defined by futility so his comments are not surprising. Your thoughts?

You're right. Beebe was insulting Pac-10 fans.

He probably didn't think his insult would be made public (the comment was contained in a confidential e-mail to Big 12 presidents from Beebe and was discovered by Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples after a public records request to the University of Colorado).

Here's the quote in full: "I grew up in Pac-10 territory and although there are outstanding institutions in that conference, the facilities and fair-weather fans are a disappointment."

He also insulted Big Ten country, by the way, writing about jumping to that conference as "linking the future with a part of the country that is losing population and tax base relative to the Sun Belt."

You can read the entire e-mail here.

Obviously, Beebe was doing some "dirty recruiting." In order to sell his conference, he had to tweak the ones that were trying to poach his teams. I think we can all understand his position, even if his comments touched a nerve.

Are Pac-10 fans "fair weather"? Well, sometimes.

USC's average attendance in 2000 was 57,339. When the Trojans took off under Pete Carroll, it perked up a bit, the average increasing to 91,480 in 2005.

Washington was No. 1 in the conference in attendance in 2000 with an average of 72,469. In 2006, the Huskies averaged 57,483.

Washington State averaged 36,128 in 2003. The Cougars averaged 25,909 last year.

In fact, of the BCS conferences, the Pac-10 took the biggest hit in average attendance last year: minus-3,164. The Big 12 was down just 81 in 2009. And the season before, the Pac-10 lost one percent while the Big 12 was up 3.3 percent.

In terms of percentage of capacity, all Big 12 schools -- other than Baylor -- typically average 90 percent or greater. Only four Pac-10 schools were at 89 percent or greater last year: Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Washington.

There are plenty of reasons Pac-10 attendance was down in 2009. The recession hit the West Coast hard. USC's attendance dropped by 2,000. But it's also fair to say that Pac-10 fans do react to the "weather." If their team starts losing, many will turn away.

Am I saying that Pac-10 fans are inferior. Absolutely not. Things are just different out here. The Pac-10 is a big-city league with lots of entertainment options other than college football. The Big 12, much like the SEC, is not. How many Big 12 teams are within 100 miles of multiple professional sports teams?

I don't see any reason to demonize Dan Beebe for doing -- and saying -- anything he could to save his conference. My impression of him, in fact, is very positive.

The best course here is to emulate Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott: No hard feelings.


Colorado a good fit for Pac-10

June, 10, 2010
6/10/10
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Since the Pac-10 first asked, "What about expansion?" upon hiring Larry Scott as commissioner, Colorado was on the table as a potential partner.

All the hubbub about Baylor boosters trying to muscle Colorado aside? It was never an issue with the Pac-10, which has been eyeballing Colorado for months.

The Buffaloes are a good fit, culturally and academically. Heck, even temperamentally.

For Scott, they will be an even better fit when they are joined by their five friends from the crumbling Big 12: Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. That would set up a "super-conference" that could create a revenue-churning network paying out each team $20 million -- or more -- annually.

But even if there's an 11th-hour change -- Texas A&M to the SEC! Notre Dame to the Big Ten! -- know that Scott has considered out all the variables. He's convinced that Colorado, alone, adds value to the Pac-10.

"We have been through a pretty exhaustive and deliberate process and it was clear to us that in any scenario we were going to consider for expansion that Colorado was a great fit," Scott said.

Denver a pro sports town? Scott scoffed at that reasoning, noting -- with more than a hint of sarcasm -- the same could be said about the rest of the Pac-10's major cities. In other words: Another reason Colorado is a great fit.

Of course, Colorado isn't a sports powerhouse. It ranked 69th in the directors cup standings last year. It doesn't play baseball or softball (though adding both sports has been discussed). Its football and basketball programs just got docked scholarships because of poor APR scores.

Moreover, the divorce with the Big 12 could get interesting. Colorado administrators are unsure what sort of penalty they will incur for bolting the Big 12, particularly when the Big 12's survival is in question. The Pac-10 might have to pick up part of the tab. And, as things are now, the Buffaloes won't join the Pac-10 until 2012, which means two seasons of Big 12 play that could be fairly uncomfortable.

“In talking to [Big 12 commissioner] Dan Beebe a couple of presidents and chancellors, we certainly have a longstanding relationship and I think we can work well together for the next two years until we move officially to the Pac-10," said Colorado president Bruce Benson, striking an upbeat note.

It comes down to this: Scott's decision to invite Colorado before all others wasn't about micro-analyzing the present and trying to figure out why something wouldn't work.

It was about imagining how things could work in the future.

And after penciling it all out, both Colorado and Scott came to the same conclusion: A marriage between the Buffaloes and the Pac-10 will be good for both partners.

Expansion in the afternoon

June, 8, 2010
6/08/10
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Since you guys seem to never tire of expansion talk...

Pac-10 versus Big 12 game at Fiesta Bowl?

May, 18, 2010
5/18/10
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Close your eyes: Imagine the Texas Longhorns versus the USC Trojans in September inside the climate-controlled University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. It has a retractable roof and the air conditioning kicks in when temperatures reach more than 100 degrees.

Who wouldn't watch that? Or want to attend the game in person?

Amid all the talk of Pac-10 expansion, conference championship games and increasing conference revenue, one often overlooked item is marquee, neutral-site games that would generate huge national interest -- and big paychecks from broadcast partners.

One question is where? But now there's an answer.

The Fiesta Bowl last week settled a lawsuit with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, the public entity that oversees University of Phoenix Stadium, Andrew Bagnato reported on his blog.

Writes Bagnato: "As part of the deal, AZSTA agreed to support the Fiesta Bowl in its efforts to stage occasional regular-season college football games at the retractable-roofed stadium. Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board Duane Woods said there would likely be 'no more than one game annually, but we are very excited that this can mean additional economic impact for our state and for AZSTA at a very critical time.'"

This is the sort of thing that would fit what Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott and his Big 12 counterpart Dan Beebe chatted about two weeks ago.

Last year, the Alabama-Virginia Tech game at the Georgia Dome launched the Crimson Tide's national title run. This year, Boise State and Virginia Tech meet in Washington D.C., with the same aspirations. Also, Army plays Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium and Oregon State faces TCU in Cowboys Stadium.

These games generate "extra" revenue over and above what an average nonconference game produces. "Extra" revenue is what every conference at present is obsessing about.

Here's a guess you'll see a Pac-10-Big 12 game hosted by the Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in the very near future.

Expansion? What about a Pac-10-Big 12 partnership?

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
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Most of the expansion talk on the West Coast has focused on the Pac-10 luring Colorado away from the Big 12, but there's increasing evidence that the Pac-10 and Big 12 also are interested in a potential partnership.

Big 12 and Pac-10 administrators and athletic directors met Wednesday in Phoenix, and afterwards Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott used terms like "strategic alliance" and "pooling TV rights" and "joint network."

None of it sounded terribly adversarial.

Both conferences' media contracts expire after the 2011-12 academic year. Both want -- need -- to sign new contracts that help them keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten.

That might take some creativity, though a rebounding economy should help the cause. There are plenty of reasons the conferences could work together, starting with geography: They are the only two BCS conferences entirely located west of the Mississippi River. It would be easier for the Pac-10 to partner with a conference in the Mountain and Central time zones, rather than one that's entirely in the East, such as the ACC.

Moreover, Scott's No. 2, deputy commissioner/chief operating officer Kevin Weiberg, is a former Big 12 commissioner. Not to mention that new Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is the son of Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne, who used to be athletic director at Oregon.

So there are grounds to build trust during what could be complicated negotiations.

Scott and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe huddled for several minutes after a long afternoon meeting on Wednesday. It may have been only one of many future negotiations between the two.

  • This comes a bit late for Oklahoma, but the Pac-10 is considering no longer using conference officials for nonconference home games, which would reduce controversy when homer, er, bad calls are made and would fall in line with other BCS conferences. Understand: Nothing is official until a proposal is ratified by the conference during June meetings.
  • As part of a more aggressive marketing effort, the Pac-10 will hold a bi-coastal preseason "media day" in late July. The first day would be in New York, the second at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 29. Previously, Pac-10 media day was a one-day event in a LA airport hotel.
  • Football travel squads may enlarge from 64 to 70, which falls in line with what other BCS conferences allow.
  • Scott said that the NCAA's new, controversial "no taunting rule," which is scheduled to be adopted in 2011, was a hot topic. The new rule would make taunting a live-ball foul and the penalty would be assessed at the point of the infraction, which means it could kill a touchdown. "There's some concern about that from our coaches," Scott said. I bet.
  • The Pac-10 coaches and ADs also met with officials from the Alamo Bowl, the conference new No. 2 bowl -- replacing the Holiday Bowl, which is now No. 3 -- as well as BCS executive director Bill Hancock.

Swarbrick: Notre Dame will 'monitor our environment'

April, 22, 2010
4/22/10
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is an articulate man who is gracious with reporters, but he also knows that the subject of conference expansion is a complicated topic that presently is grounded almost entirely in speculation.

That absence of substance meant reporters spent a lot of time casting hooks baited with hypothetical situations toward Swarbrick and the conference commissioners who were gathered for three days of BCS meetings this week.

The bait provoked a few sniffs, but no real, on the record bites.

"There's enormous risk in trying to articulate hypotheticals," explained Swarbrick, repeating the ultimate mantra of the meetings.

Massive change may be ahead in college football with the Big Ten leading the way. "Super" conferences may be the future. But the endgame isn't clear. Nor is how the first ripples will break.

Swarbrick and Notre Dame could make everything easy by becoming the Big Ten's 12th team, but man, institution and fanbase don't want that.

Still, Swarbrick has consistently left a door open based on the idea that cataclysmic change might make independence untenable.

"In the context of what is going on, we need to monitor our environment," he said.

In other words, if the Big East, where Notre Dame plays its basketball, is smashed by the Big Ten, starting a massive contraction of elite teams within, say, four major conferences, then Notre Dame might have to abandon the independence it cherishes.

Again, hypotheticals.

Why the focus on Notre Dame? Because the Fighting Irish are great symbols here. Expansion is not only about potentially further marginalizing college football's have-nots outside of BCS conferences, though that's an alarming part of it if your team plays in a non-AQ conference. Plenty of "haves" also are concerned. Notre Dame and, say, Oklahoma certainly aren't going to be left behind. But they may have to alter their present course, their own strategic vision.

"It would be negligent not to be concerned," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. "You have to plan for any kind of contingencies. We’ve been highly active internally talking about what might change in the college landscape and how we position ourselves."

Independence, Swarbrick said, is part of Notre Dame's "identity." But he and university president Rev. John I. Jenkins started fretting the changing landscape as soon as the Big Ten Network took off.

He called the present "a dynamic environment," but he also added that the status quo, which some might read as "tradition," will fall by the wayside in the new, constantly changing media environment.

"Those days are over," he said.

Some notes:

  • After BCS executive director Bill Hancock told reporters that the Mountain West Conference is in position to play its way into automatic qualifying by the 2012 and 2013 seasons, there were questions about the formula the BCS uses to make that determination. Hancock released the formula Thursday. Let's just say the folks at Baseball Prospectus would love it. Here's how the AP's Ralph Russo simplified it: "The BCS uses three criteria that measure conference strength over a four-year period. The criteria are: the ranking of the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings; the final regular-season computer rankings of all the teams in a conference; and the number of teams in the top 25 of the final BCS standings."
  • Hancock also handed out a sheet that showed how the conferences ranked from 2004-2007. The Pac-10 and SEC ranked one and two by the first two measures. In the third, the SEC was No. 1, Big Ten No. 2 and the Pac-10 No. 3.
  • The BCS's estimated 2010-11 revenue distribution projections for each AQ conference: $21.2 million. If a non-AQ team earns a BCS bowl berth and Notre Dame does not, the five non-AQ conferences will share $24.7 million.
  • The commissioners seemed pleased that the NCAA basketball tournament expanded only to 68 teams, instead of 96. "They preserved the character and integrity of the event," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said. "It's elegant and they kept it elegant."

Expansion not a player in BCS meetings

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid the buzz and threat of expansion, the BCS meetings haven't degenerated into professional wrestling. At least not yet, even though Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany makes a great villain among other conference leaders who are trying to protect their bailiwicks.

“I tried him in a headlock, but he’s a tough guy," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe quipped after the first of three days of meetings ended at the posh Royal Palms Resort.

Expansion is not on the formal agenda, though it clearly is being discussed informally by nearly every administrator on hand. The general feeling among Beebe and others, however, is the Big Ten won't exercise college football's version of manifest destiny this week.

But there is formal concern. The Big 12 and Big East are expected to be prime targets for the Big Ten, which could add just one or a handful of teams and become a "super conference."

"It would be negligent for me to not be concerned," Beebe said.

Delany has agreed to speak with reporters Wednesday.

On the other side of the table is Pac-10 chief Larry Scott. His conference is considering expansion in advance of negotiating a new TV contract, but his is a more measured, less urgent approach. While the Big Ten seems eager to expand, and other conferences are worried about their membership, Scott said he feels no threat nor any need to aggressively pursue other teams in order to keep up.

"Play out for me a scenario where it harms us," he said of expansion outside the west coast. "No one has given me any kind of compelling explanation of how it impacts us."

Asked if a 16-team Big Ten might create a chain reaction of expansion and consolidation of BCS conferences, he said. "I've heard a lot of that and I've found it interesting. I've talked to a lot of people about it, whether some chain reaction would affect the Pac-10, but I don't see that ... So far I don't see any compelling rational that just because one conference might expand it puts pressure on us to expand."

That doesn't mean the Pac-10 won't expand, but Scott's position remains constant: Expansion makes sense if only it increases per team revenue.

Said Beebe, "Any conference looking at expansion has to look at whether an institution is going to bring at least one unit to pay for itself."

Moreover, just because a team resides in or near a prime metropolitan market doesn't mean that team will deliver that market.

Noted WAC commissioner Karl Benson, "It's how many television sets they can deliver, not necessarily how many people are in their market."

Of course, Benson then noted that the Big Ten has been delivering on TV, with a conference network that has made per-team revenue by far the biggest among BCS conferences -- $22 million, $5 million more than the SEC.

Day one of the BCS meetings appeared bloodless. But there's always day two and three, right?

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