Pac-12: Tom Hansen

Larry 'Ca-ching' Scott is in the money

May, 23, 2012
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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.

Is Larry Scott a lifer for the Pac-12?

February, 6, 2012
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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.

[+] EnlargeLarry Scott
Pac-10 Conference/Getty ImagesPac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will uphold his position through at least 2016, but for how much longer will he stay beyond that?
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?

Ha!

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.

Four football players win Hansen Medal

July, 11, 2011
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Four former Pac-12 football players were awarded the Tom Hansen Conference Medal, which is given annually to each member institution’s outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on "the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership."

The winners were Oregon State center Alex Linnenkohl, Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed, Oregon center Jordan Holmes and Stanford fullback Owen Marecic.

The Tom Hansen Conference Medal winners will be honored at the State Farm Pride of the Pac-12 Breakfast held in Los Angeles in conjunction with the Pacific Life Pac-12 men's and women's basketball tournaments next March.

The Tom Hansen Conference Medal was named in honor of Hansen, who served 26 years as commissioner of the Pac-10 Conference, retiring in June of 2009. The award was first named in his honor in 2008-09.

You can view all the winners here.

New-look Pac-10 ready for its close-up

July, 26, 2010
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Want to unscientifically measure the difference between one year of Larry Scott vs. 26 years of Tom Hansen atop the Pac-10?

Do this: Google "Pac-1o commissioner Larry Scott" then do "Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen."

Yeah: Stunning. Nearly two million hits vs. 105,000.

While some traditionalists -- and the Pac-10 still has plenty of those -- might not believe that's necessarily a good thing, what Scott has done in one year is dramatic: He's made the conference big news. Even when his grand plan for a "Pac-16" fell apart due to a Texas two-step, Scott's bold behind-the-scenes maneuvering was the lead story of an usually busy college football summer.

When the machinations finally ended, the conference added two teams, Colorado and Utah, and everyone now waits to see how Scott will parlay that into a media deal that keeps the conference financially competitive with the SEC, Big Ten and ACC.

But that answer won't come until 2011. The present "next big thing" is this week: A bi-coastal showcase of Pac-10 football coaches and players. And new, aggressive Pac-10 marketing.

Danette Leighton, an Arizona alum and the Pac-10's new -- and first -- chief marketing officer, uses terms like "sizzle" when she talks about how the conference plans to present itself to the media and public.

"It's about presenting Larry Scott's vision," she said.

That vision means elevating the Pac-10's national profile and waging war on the "East Coast bias" -- real or mythical -- by reaching out in order to overcome instead of merely complaining about perceived slights. That vision means putting the Pac-10 in front of a national audience as much as possible, even if much of that audience supports other conferences and is inclined to boo an interloper from the West.

Cheering or booing -- that means folks are paying attention. And those eyeballs, Scott believes, will translate to increased revenue and a better position in the college football pecking order.

As for the new stuff this week ... You can see the new Pac-10 website here when it opens at 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday. And you can pose questions to the coaches and players available during Thursday's media day on the new Pac-10 Twitter page.

The Pac-10 blog will be tagging along to all three destinations (image: Pac-10 blog walking up to Pac-10 coaches, "Hey, are you guys playing cards?"). That means lots of stories and videos over the next few days. So you may want to take a few days off.

Here's the media days itinerary:

Tuesday (New York)

5 p.m. ET: News conference at the Manhattan W Hotel featuring all 10 coaches and the unveiling of new Pac-10 logo and football trailer. Pac-10 QBs will visit Times Square -- where the Pac-10 football video will be playing on the Jumbotron -- and the Empire State Building.
6 p.m.: Private cocktail reception at W's "Whiskey Blue" with TV executives, corporate sponsors, former players and other VIPs.
8 p.m.: Coaches eat dinner with ESPN's "GameDay" crew. Coach spouses will see Broadway musical, "Promises, Promises."

Wednesday (New York, ESPN)

Morning: Coaches will ring the opening bell at NASDAQ and then conduct East Coast media interviews.
11 a.m.: Bus to ESPN offices in Bristol, Conn., where players and coaches will do interviews on all ESPN platforms.
5 p.m.: Charter flight from New York to Los Angeles; check in Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel.

Thursday (at Rose Bowl, all times PT)

9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Coach and player group interview session (field)
9:30 a.m. - Introduction and format - Dave Hirsch
9:35 a.m. - Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott
9:45 a.m. - Paul Wulff & DE Kevin Kooyman, Washington State
10:00 a.m. - Dennis Erickson & PK Thomas Weber, Arizona State
10:15 a.m. - Rick Neuheisel & FS Rahim Moore, UCLA
10:30 a.m. - Steve Sarkisian & LB Mason Foster, Washington
10:45 a.m. - Jeff Tedford & LB Mike Mohamed, California
11:00 a.m. - BREAK
11:15 a.m. - Lane Kiffin & QB Matt Barkley, USC
11:30 a.m. - Jim Harbaugh & FB/LB Owen Marecic, Stanford
11:45 a.m. - Mike Riley & RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
12 noon - Mike Stoops & QB Nick Foles, Arizona
12:15 p.m. - Chip Kelly & DT Brandon Bair, Oregon
12:30 p.m. - Pac-10 video presentation

12:30-2:30: One-on-one coach/player interviews during luncheon.

5:30 p.m.: Reception at the Fox Network Studios: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman host Pac-10 presentation.

Former Pac-10 commissioner to be honored

May, 4, 2010
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Former Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is the 2010 recipient of the Dick Enberg Award.

The award is annually presented to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. The award was created to recognize Enberg’s passion and support of the Academic All-America program for more than 20 years, as well as his dedication to education for more than four decades.

Hansen will receive the award on July 6 in San Francisco at the College Sports Information Director of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame Gala celebration, which will honor both the CoSIDA Hall of Fame Class of 2010 and the Academic All-America Hall of Fame Class of 2010.

Hansen, who was the commissioner of the Pac-10 for 26 years, will be the 14th individual to be honored since the award’s inception in 1997.

Pac-10 will consider expansion

December, 16, 2009
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With potential conference expansion again all the rage, first-year Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott knew the question would be coming.

What about Pac-10 expansion?


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswirePac-10 conference commissioner Larry Scott said he is considering expansion... again.
"Expansion is something we will take a look at," Scott said Wednesday.

For expansion enthusiasts that will sound like a more open-minded approach than long-time commissioner Tom Hansen, whom Scott replaced over the summer.

But don't make plans for a Pac-10 Championship Game just yet.

Yes, expansion is something Scott will look at with a "fresh set of eyes" -- his phrase -- and the timing makes sense because the conference television contracts expire after the 2011-12 academic year.

But this is nothing new -- he said the same in July before Pac-10 media day -- and the same reasoning and sentiments that school and conference administrators have used to resist calls for expansion in the past remain entrenched, so nothing is imminent.

"There's a pretty high hurdle for us, academically, athletically, geographically," Scott said. "We're hard-pressed to really see how you improve upon the structure of the Pac-10 as it is with five sets of natural rivals in four states."

Expansion is a subject that has repeatedly come up since the mid-90s when the conference courted Texas and Colorado before they joined the new Big 12, but the Big Ten's public declaration this week that it is considering adding a member to reach the 12-program threshold necessary to split into divisions and hold a championship game, makes the issue relevant again.

If the the Big Ten joins the Big 12, ACC and SEC as a 12-team conference that would leave the Pac-10 and eight-team Big East looking, well, smaller.

Scott said that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, particularly in terms of revenue per program. If adding teams means a potentially smaller slice of the conference revenue pie, it will be hard to sell expansion to the membership.

The first issue is the small pool of potential candidates. The teams most often mentioned -- mostly by fans -- are Utah, BYU, Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and TCU.

A couple of those are intriguing possibilities, but a couple wouldn't even be considered.

Programs need to be an academic and athletic match. That means admission standards and research accreditation are issues. On the athletic side, it's not just about football. How strong is the entire athletic department? Recall the Pac-10 is the "Conference of Champions" and Olympic and women's sports are part of that foundation.

Then there's the biggest issue: Money. If the Pac-10 were to expand, it wants that expansion to mean more of it. There's widespread concern that a number of the potential candidates don't come from markets that will increase revenue.

Bringing in Utah and Colorado might be a winner (Salt Lake City and Denver markets), and at least one Pac-10 athletic director said that's the most likely scenario. Of course, prying Colorado away from the Big 12 might not be easy.

TCU, perhaps? There are issues -- distance being an obvious one -- but Pac-10 coaches would salivate over a bigger potential recruiting footprint in Texas.

What Scott has or will shortly realize: There are no slam-dunk solutions that will make everyone cheer.

There will be enthusiasts for expansion and there will be skeptics. What's clear is there should be a renewed sense of urgency over the matter because Scott expects the new TV deals to be long-term contracts.

That might mean expansion or not by 2012.

"The most logical time for that is when you're going to sell your media rights," Scott said. "This is essentially the shop window, so this would be a very natural time to consider it, if we are going to consider it."

Huskies hope to end woes, ugliness vs. state of Oregon

November, 11, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The last time Washington visited Oregon State, the game was so ugly the Pac-10 released a statement the following Monday announcing the game was an embarrassment.

"This was not a game representative of the best of Pac-10 football," then-Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said.

A number of fights broke out during the game. Four players were ejected. Eight personal fouls were called. In a sobering moment, Huskies quarterback Jake Locker was knocked out of the game on a helmet-to-helmet hit and was taken to the hospital by ambulance (he later returned to the field in street clothes and a neck brace). The officials made a number of terrible calls, including one on a so-called fumble at the goal line by Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard that was so mind-numbingly bad the instant replay crew was later reprimanded for not stopping the game to review the buffoonery.

Beavers fans, with considerable justification, were so torqued in the fourth quarter when it appeared the Huskies might come back and win, it's not a stretch to say a riot was a possibility.

But, of course, the Huskies didn't win. They don't, of late, do that against teams from the state of Oregon.

For old-time Pac-10 football fans, that observation will seem absurd, but the Huskies at present are zero for their last 11 vs. Oregon and Oregon State. They swept the Ducks and Beavers in 2003 but haven't beaten either since. Nine of those 11 defeats have been by double-digits.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley grew up in Corvallis and knows how stunning the recent reversal of fortunes might feel for folks who started watching Northwest football back in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, but he also senses that Washington is on the uptick under new coach Steve Sarkisian.

"It's amazing the cycle of life in football," Riley said. "I don't think anybody would have thought of Washington where they were last year, ever. But we've seen the transformation of a team."

That's true to some extent. The Huskies are much better than last year when they went 0-12. But they've lost five of six after beating USC and earning a national ranking and once reasonable bowl hopes are now fading.

Still, Sarkisian rejected the notion that his team's once-soaring confidence could waning, which could lead to a tepid performance in Corvallis.

"We'll address it head on, straight-up," he said. "It won't happen. We'll come out and play hard.''

Sarkisian also noted the Pac-10's apparent parity. The Beavers have lost two conference games: USC and Arizona. "Those happen to be our two conference wins," he said.

Of course, the Beavers are in the midst of their annual surge. After a 2-2 start, they've won four of five and looked impressive on both sides of the ball during their 31-14 win at California last weekend.

Oregon State's passing offense with quarterback Sean Canfield looks like a particular mismatch vs. Washington. Canfield owns the second-highest completion percentage in the conference -- 69.55 percent -- while the Huskies rank ninth in the conference in pass efficiency defense, with opponents completing 66.4 percent of their passes.

As it does most weeks, the Huskies chances hinge on Locker's play-making. He was injured and didn't play in the 34-13 loss to the Beavers last year, and further good news is he has no recollection of the travesty that was the 2007 game.

"The whole on-the-field experience is kind of cloudy for me," he said.

The biggest improvement for the Huskies is overall competitiveness. Four of their six defeats have come by eight or fewer points. In 2008, nine of 12 defeats came by 20 or more points.

That's the good news. It's also the bad news for a team that no longer leans on being better than '08 as a badge of honor.

The Huskies are trying to learn how to close the deal.

"It'll probably go down to the fourth quarter again and the key is for us to go out and execute in the fourth quarter when the game's on the line," Sarkisian said.

If the Huskies finish strong with three consecutive wins, they could earn an improbable bowl berth.

If the Beavers finish strong with three consecutive wins, they could earn a Rose Bowl berth.

So there are considerable stakes for both teams. Let's just hope, whoever prevails, that things are prettier than in 2007.

Scott: No major changes in Pac-10 until 2012

July, 29, 2009
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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.

Pac-10 commish Hansen opens up as he steps down

July, 1, 2009
7/01/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

For 26 years atop the Pac-10, commissioner Tom Hansen has been an advocate for change as well as a defender of tradition.

Both qualities have earned him admirers and critics.

During his tenure, the conference has become an all-sports powerhouse that annually piles up national championships, though some argue at the expense of the sport that pays for it all: football. 

Hansen steps aside today, and Larry Scott, former chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, takes over.

 
  AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
  Pac-10 commisioner Tom Hansen is stepping down Wednesday after 26 years at the helm.
Ahead for Hansen: golf, travel and quality time with grandchildren.

But before he does that, he looks back, looks forward and assesses the Pac-10 present.

Think back to when you started 26 years ago: Did you imagine then that college football would look like it does today?

Tom Hansen: I probably hoped it would because I think it looks wonderful today. But I really didn't envision it being as important as it is, as good as it is, holding its TV ratings as well as it has during the fragmentation of the television audience. The in-stadium attendance -- I don't have these numbers exactly -- but I saw recently that in 1979 that attendance was 26 million and today it's 38 million. And the attendance at bowl games last year was very good and bowl game ratings were very good. I think that back in 1983, none of us was really sure what television would do. There were uncertainties with what the future would hold.

If you could change one thing about college football -- across the entire landscape of teams and conferences -- what would it be?

TH: As always, you'd want to make it safer for the student-athlete. That's something we constantly seek. It is a violent game and unfortunately participants get hurt. Beyond that, I like a lot where it is. We probably have too many bowl games but teams and players who get to participate probably have a good time and feel like it's a reward for 12 months of hard work.

There was a report in the Seattle Times about the Pac-10 talking to the Alamo Bowl: Where does that stand?

TH: We've talked to quite a few bowls in the last six months, particularly in the West. This is the last year of the current [non-BCS] bowl cycle. We tried to move quickly this year for a number of reasons having to do with bowls' television agreements and bowls' sponsorship agreements. We would certainly be interested in the Alamo Bowl, if we could fit it into our bowl lineup. We had two games there [1993 and 1994] and had an excellent experience and people love to go to San Antonio. It would be a very attractive destination for Pac-10 fans.

Do you imagine significant changes in the Pac-10 bowl arrangements over the coming years?

TH: Not very significant because we know from history that the Florida bowls, the Southeast bowls, are not interested in our teams because of the travel distances for fans and our probable inability to sell tickets in that area. So we are pretty well restricted in where we would have opportunities.

The SEC and Big Ten are making a lot more money than the Pac-10 and other BCS conferences: Are we developing have- and have-not conferences within the BCS?

TH: I think that is a possibility and a danger and we are going to be studying our opportunities to step up in television to try to keep pace with those two conferences. We need to try to find ways to match what those two conferences are doing. Our athletic directors have been studying the television marketplace for the last year with an eye on that.

Is a Pac-10 network a sure-thing for increasing revenue?

TH: I think if we were to decide to do that, yes, revenue would definitely increase over what we have now. Whether that's the best approach for increasing revenue is something that the directors will be looking at in the next year or two. We have TV contracts -- ABC/ESPN in football and Fox Sports Net in football and basketball -- through the 2011-2012 academic years. So our contracts are not concluded through three more years. So there is time. Also, the formation of a network is a complex undertaking and would take quite a bit of time and energy and attention.

What advice would you give incoming commissioner Larry Scott?

TH: The first thing I've already told him is he's extremely fortunate to be involved with 10 great universities and the people on the campuses. I think it's a very positive thing that he's acquired this job. I wish him the very best. I think he'll be a fine leader.

What would you rate as your best memory during your tenure?

TH: That's hard. I think winning the NCAA basketball championship, which happened twice. And winning any Rose Bowl game. And plus USC's football national championship in the Orange Bowl.

What about your biggest accomplishment -- what most satisfies you when you look back on your tenure?

TH: That the conference has been so successful while approaching intercollegiate athletics in the best possible way. It's had a balance with the academic element of our enterprise, which has been very important to the Pac-10. And yet we've been so successful on the field. I think that's a thing I can be proud of. The other thing that I think stands out is the magnificent programs for women that we have developed since I arrived and how successful they've been. And the creation of the television [broadcasts] that we've had to do, starting in 1983, that we had to do with football.

Every leader gets criticized. You've received your fair share. Did the criticism get to you?

TH: Not in a general sense. The criticisms of the BCS I find are mostly from people who really don't understand the negatives of a playoff. All they want to do is see a playoff, like the basketball tournament, and they completely fail to understand how different football is from basketball. Probably some of the criticism of officiating when people don't understand how difficult it is, particularly in basketball, and don't appreciate how well they do, given the difficulties. Sometimes those criticism, particularly when the fan really doesn't understand the rule or how it was applied, those rankle. But generally if you are confident you made the best decision you could, given the information you had, then I think you feel good about what you did. I also have said to people that you are criticizing me, but you have to understand that almost every time I've expressed a position, it's been that of the conference, not my own personal viewpoint -- even though, philosophically, I am very, very compatible with the philosophy of the Pac-10. But I don't adopt positions. The conference does. I just express them and explain them the best I can. So to personalize it is a mistake.

For the final time, can you say to fans what is the biggest road block to a college football playoff?

TH: The fact that members of the Football Bowl Subdivision, by a wide majority, prefer a bowl system
where 6,800 young people get to have a post-season experience and the aversion to a playoff that would quickly go to 16 teams. People talk about a one-game playoff or a four-team playoff -- it can't happen. We were forced in the BCS from political pressure to expand from eight berths to 10 berths. Were there to be a playoff, you'd have to have 11 automatic berths [for every conference] and you'd have to have a berth for Notre Dame, and that would cut you down to just four at-large berths. Most years you'd have an argument about that. Then, with that many games, you'd have to play on the campuses of the higher seeded teams. You couldn't possibly travel teams week by week to a neutral site -- the NFL doesn't even do that. And no one really stops to reflect upon the fact that the NFL has all the playing slots through December and January [on the weekends]. So finding attractive playing times and dates and television availability would be a great challenge. So there are so many negatives to a playoff, to say nothing of probably the most important one which is the presidents do not want football being played into the second semester. It's not just missing class. It's the impact it has on the academic program of the institution. There's a long list of reasons these institutions favor having one game per team in the post-season and stopping it at that.

Has USC's dominance been good for the Pac-10? Or has their seven-year run atop the conference hurt the national perception?

TH: I think that's a two-sided question. On one hand, the fact that a member of the conference has been very much a part of the national championship picture for these seven years and has played in the national championship game twice and shared it another time, I think that's very good for the conference. You have at at least one team as good -- and I think we've had others through the years -- that is as good as any team in the country. On the other hand, the era in the 1990s when we had seven different teams win the championship and play in the Rose Bowl was very good for the conference from another aspect because it showed we had many teams that had good programs and it was quite obvious nationally that we had that kind of depth. One of the things that I think has been a strength of Pac-10 football is that we have not very frequently had non-competitive teams. Usually, it's been pretty competitive from top to bottom. So it's both good and unfortunate because during this run by USC some of our other teams haven't been recognized as having been as good as they are. Yet USC, I think, by in large has had a more difficult time winning its conference games than it has had winning its bowl games.

Do you have any feeling when the NCAA and Pac-10 will announce its findings in the USC-Reggie Bush case?

TH: It is still an active case and that is the extent to which I can comment on it.

Perception -- how a team or conference is viewed by the nation -- has always been a huge part of rating college football programs. The BCS has transformed those perceptions into a high-stakes game. Have other conferences been better are controlling -- or manipulating -- their national perception?

TH: I think that's hard to judge. I don't think anybody's manipulated that particularly. I think the SEC has been quite good at extolling its own virtues. I think our people do that too, but perhaps we don't have it carried to the East Coast as much as some of the others. I think we've done fine that way. When our teams are good, I think they get well-recognized and well-rated.

I ask that because round-robin scheduling, while the most equitable way to determine a champion, seems to have hurt the conference as much as helped it?

TH: I do think it can be hurtful. We see in the other conferences when a team may miss the two other best teams in that conference, just by happenstance. I think it happened with Kansas two years ago when it didn't play either Texas or Oklahoma when those were two of the top half-dozen teams in the country and Kansas emerged as a [highly rated] team. It's been very good for the conference for two reasons. First of all, you really do want to play and settle on the field who is the best team and who should be the champion. And the other thing is, our conference games are much more attractive than what probably would be the team on the schedule if you played [a fourth nonconference foe]. It's increasingly difficult to find quality opponents, particularly in the West, because institutions that are willing to accept a road game for a payout are primarily located in the Midwest or the Southeast. They don't need to to travel to the West at great expense to do that. Scheduling is a real challenge for our members. That's been another positive in having nine conference games. The puzzle to me is it doesn't seem like the BCS system has penalized the teams that play very poor nonconference schedules in addition to a lesser conference schedule. I'm puzzled by that.

If you were going to predict, what will be the next tweak to the BCS?

TH: First of all, we're going to go through the 2011-14 cycle without any changes as of this time. I think the next change may well be expanding the board -- the presidential oversight committee that sets BCS policy. Expanding that to include all 11 conferences plus Notre Dame is probably the next tweak, which isn't a tweak to operations but it's an important internal change.

It's the fall of 2025: If you were to guess, will college football be using a playoff?

TH: That's too far out to predict with any sense of confidence or accuracy but it's going to be quite a while, if ever, for that to happen, just because of all the negatives that I mentioned earlier. When people talk about a playoff, they don't talk about the details or the structure, or participation. They just say, 'Let's have a playoff because we have a playoff in every other sport.' Well, every other sport isn't football. We've looked at all the playoffs in America, pro and college, and any playoff that ever started has grown exponentially, including [NCAA] basketball, NFL, hockey, NBA and Major League baseball. All of those playoffs started relatively small and grew because the pressure to include more teams is so great that the organization can't withstand the pressure.

More scheduling diatribes!

June, 25, 2009
6/25/09
6:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

This is an interesting approach to measuring schedule strength.

A caveat: This comes from an extremely biased perspective, one the author makes no effort to hide.

His numbers seem fairly sound, though.

Second caveat: The author takes a cheap shot at the end of the article at outgoing Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen, which made me double- and triple-think posting this.

I know a lot of folks are frustrated with how the Pac-10 handles its football business. Part of the reason I posted this analysis is because I strongly believe that the conference's round robin scheduling is bad strategy for competing in a BCS system that's more about perception -- and manipulation of computer rankings -- rather than performance.

Many blame Hansen for everything. My experience with these folks is they often don't understand how complicated Hansen's job has been.

Further, I can tell you one thing with certainty: I've never met anyone who knows Tom Hansen who has anything bad to say about him.

Mack, Levitre and Sanchez win 'Tom Hansen Medal'

June, 10, 2009
6/10/09
4:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Three former Pac-10 football players were among the winners of the Tom Hansen Conference Medal, according to a release from the conference: California's Alex Mack, Oregon State's Andy Levitre and USC's Mark Sanchez.

The release stated: "A Conference Medal is awarded annually to each member institution's outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership. The Pac-10 recently renamed the award the Tom Hansen Conference Medal in honor of Hansen, who is retiring at the end of June after serving 26 years as Commissioner of the Pac-10."

Pac-10 lunch links: Montana to Washington?

June, 1, 2009
6/01/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here's a quick look around the Pac-10:

  • USC officials have remained silent, even as the school's reputation is now on the line in the midst of an NCAA investigation.
  • Might a Montana wind up at Washington? Nick Montana is reportedly heading to UW for a visit.
  • Speaking of Washington, Dave Curtis of The Sporting News had a few questions for coach Steve Sarkisian.
  • And, as you all know, Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is on his way out, but he's not leaving without first pushing some budget cuts in the Pac-10.

Opening the mailbag: Tebow exhaustion in the Pac-10?

May, 15, 2009
5/15/09
6:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

First, lots of feedback on my restaurant recommendations for the ultimate Pac-10 road trip.

I tried to go for diversity: seafood, Italian, Pan-Asian, French, steaks, cheap, pricey, frou frou, local institutions, etc.

Some of you took real offense to certain choices ... ouch!

As for those who don't like Adam's Place in Eugene, Ore., are you aware that it's the headquarters of the Eugene Martini Association!

I'm not going to just sit here and listen to you badmouth the home of the Eugene Martini Association, an organization that does so much good in the world, trying to help as many people as possible get the martinis they need!

[Sob.]

To your letters.

Cam from Albany, Ore., wrote: When comparing the spring production of Oregon against the tangible talent at USC, which school is deeper at QB for 2009?

Ted Miller: Interesting question.

USC has three quarterbacks who are more physically talented -- in terms of NFL possibilities, at least -- than any Oregon quarterback.

Oregon has Jeremiah Masoli, who's the top returning quarterback in the Pac-10, and Justin Roper, who has a lot of game experience.

None of USC's three quarterbacks -- Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain or Matt Barkley -- owns significant experience running a Pac-10 offense. (Mustain's experience as a true freshman at Arkansas doesn't count for much; see his struggles with USC's pro-style offense.)

Oregon's third and perhaps fourth options are Darron Thomas and Nate Costa, if he's healthy. Hopes were high for Costa last year before he suffered another serious knee injury, and Thomas is the quarterback of the future.

Seems to me both schools are fairly set at the position. But heading into 2008, I'd take Masoli over anyone else in the conference.


Daniel from Cypress, Calif., writes: What are you hearing about the new PAC-10 commish, about making decisions that will promote viewing of PAC-10 football nationally and what do you see him doing about contributing to changing the BCS?

Ted Miller: You don't need to wait to hear from Larry Scott. Outgoing commissioner Tom Hansen told the Orange County Register this week that there have been discussions about starting a "Pac-10 network," similar to what the Big Ten has already done.

Way -- WAY -- preliminary. But it shows that the Pac-10 is finally, due to revenue woes, looking to get creative in the ways the league markets itself.

As for Scott, it's too early to know how he might change things. He's been laying low, and truth is he probably has no idea what he's going to do. Bottom line is he serves the will of the school presidents, most of whom seem dead-set against change.

And I think the Pac-10 is a long way from joining the revolt against the BCS.


Brian from Parts Unknown writes: With the recent news about Floyd at USC possibly giving Mayo's handler $1000 and the NCAA combining the basketball and football probes of USC, I am starting to believe USC will get more than a slap on the wrist. What do you make of this? What penalties would you guess will be coming if the latest allegations are true?

Ted Miller: What has been reported on the basketball side of things is significantly different than what has been reported on the football side.

This is a football blog, so I'm going to leave the Tim Floyd-O.J. Mayo mess to other folks to sort out.

As for football, as I have previously stated: It will come down to whether the NCAA finds that USC knew -- or should have known -- about Reggie Bush's relationship with a pair of would-be agents who were allegedly giving him money and gifts.

The evidence to support the notion that any USC coach had direct knowledge is scant. It basically amounts to an allegation that running backs coach Todd McNair socialized with Bush one night in San Diego when the would-be agents were around and claims by the would-be agents that they were allowed in the USC locker room after games.

Having been in the USC locker room many times, I can only say ... who isn't inside the freaking USC locker room after a game?

And, by the way, both Lloyd Lake's and Michael Michaels' lawyers said early in the case that they had no direct evidence that USC knew what was going on, according to the book, "Tarnished Heisman."

Where USC football, however, might be found most culpable is lax oversight.

Will that, combined with the basketball allegations, amount to the dreaded "lack of institutional control"? We shall see. The odds it will are certainly better than they were a few months ago.


Ryan from Austin writes: I really enjoy the blog. It is a nice dose of reality as a Trojan fan in Austin, TX. And for those wondering, coming back to Austin after flying out to Pasadena for the 2006 Rose Bowl was absolutely brutal. Vince Young SI cover everywhere for what seemed like months...wait, it was months. I digress but do have a question... Can USC get to the BCS championship game with one loss? I know there are numerous factors outside their control, but I'm curious if you think an early season loss to Cal or Ohio State ends their title game chances.

Ted Miller: Sure. As you say, a lot factors in -- other one-loss teams, USC's ranking when it loses and who it loses to, the Pac-10's top-to-bottom strength, etc.

What the Trojans need if they lose once is for the teams on their schedule to do well, the Pac-10 as well as Ohio State and Notre Dame. And it would help if the Trojans lone loss comes before November, or even mid-October.

If the Pac-10 makes a strong showing against another difficult slate off nonconference games and seven teams earn bowl eligibility, then USC probably would have a strong case with one loss.


Nate from Pleasanton, Calif., writes: If Stanford's Toby Gerhart does declare for the MLB draft who would you expect to step up for the Cardinal and how well do you think they would perform to keep the standards for rushing that were set with last years rushing attack?

Ted Miller: The good news for Stanford fans is it's starting to look like Gerhart will be back.

If Gerhart does bolt, however, Jeremy Stewart would be first in line, with a trio of incoming freshmen -- Tyler Gaffney, Usua Amanam and Stepfan Taylor -- finding themselves in the midst of an outstanding opportunity.

Moreover, coach Jim Harbaugh couldn't stop gushing about Alex Debniak this spring. He's going to double as a lineba
cker and running back.

As big an issue for the running game is filling some holes on the offensive line.


Van from Pahrump, Nev., writes: For context, I'm a rabid USC fan. I fully agree that Tim Tebow is already an all-time college great, possessed of justifiably admired awesome football skills and charismatic leadership abilities. But I really don't get the degree of unmitigated fawning over him that seems to universally anoint him as the "best ever." May I be so bold as to ask what ever happened to Vince Young? You know, that Texas QB who apparently played- and only modestly at that- many, many decades ago. I do not think any player in college history ever had an incredible performance like Vince did in the vs. Michigan Rose Bowl- and THEN came his even better performance against USC!

Ted Miller: If you've come expecting me to tweak Tim Tebow, you, my friend, are in the wrong place.

Two national championships. A Heisman Trophy and a third-place finish.

And another year in which Florida is expected to at least play for another championship.

Vince Young was wonderful in a pair of Rose Bowls. In fact, I'm not sure if his twin performances weren't the best bowl performance combination in college football history.

But Tebow has a chance, if he wins a third national title, to instantly become one of college football's all-time greats.

And, you know, he seems like a heck of a guy to me.


Manny from Scottsdale writes: Ted, Where do you hear [Arizona State quarterback Danny] Sullivan is a heavy favorite? He was horrible Spring Game and can't move. When I read ESPN I expect to hear good evaluation. Who are you getting that info from? ASU needs anything but Sullivan and we all saw it but you I guess?

Ted Miller: Dennis Erickson. Where did you hear differently?

Pac-10 lunch links: Hansen says a Pac-10 Network being considered

May, 14, 2009
5/14/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The politics of dancing. The politics of ooo feeling good. The politics of moving. Is this message understood? [No.]

The Pac-10 reported gross receipts of $88.78-million for the 2007 fiscal year. That same year the Big Ten reported gross receipts of $177.4-million. Internal Revenue Service documents also show that the ACC had gross receipts of $162.4-million in 2007, the SEC $149.1-million, and Big 12 $119.2-million. The SEC had gross receipts of $161.5-million in 2008, the Big 12 $129.8-million. Records are not available for the Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC for the 2008 fiscal year.

  • Rick Telander pays tribute to Pat Tillman, as well as Rory Fanning, who's doing the same with his walk across the country to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation.  
  • The California quarterback competition will be intense, according to coach Jeff Tedford, who's keeping the pressure on Kevin Riley. 
  • The "O" at Autzen Stadium will remain as the petty and litigious complaint has been dropped.
  • Debating Oregon State's two-headed monster at Will linebacker.
  • UCLA is still a year away from competing in the Pac-10.
  • Should Pac-10 fans be happy that USC is struggling with NCAA issues. Or not? But USC isn't going to win the national title anyway, right?
  • More on Washington's budget cuts. And Tyrone Willingham still doesn't have a job.
  • Washington State's Cory Mackay has been moved out of intensive care, which is good news.

New commish Scott energized for Pac-10's challenges

March, 24, 2009
3/24/09
9:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Larry Scott might be the new Pac-10 commissioner because he tried -- and ultimately failed -- to revolutionize tennis.

Scott, chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), last year suggested that the men's circuit -- the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) -- should merge with the women's tour.

"I thought tennis would be stronger if we could reorganize the sport," he said.

That was a Sisyphean task, considering all the competing political bailiwicks involved, but his enthusiastic effort made an impression on folks in the room who also happened to be involved in the Pac-10's search for a commissioner to replace the retiring Tom Hansen.

When it was first suggested he consider the Pac-10 job, Scott admitted it felt pretty random. And it was just before the holidays and his head was swirling after his abortive effort to push through a tennis merger.

He met with Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, head of the search committee, and suddenly found himself energized by the job description, its challenges and complexities and its often competing interests.

Sounded familiar but also new.

"It unlocked for me a personal connection and passion from my own experience as a student-athlete," said Scott, 44, who was an All-American tennis player at Harvard.

Scott is not a man of few words, but his message was clear when asked about his chief challenge when he officially starts on July 1: Does he believe the Pac-10's bowl arrangements and television contracts can be improved in terms of increasing revenue and exposure, particularly in football and basketball.

"I do," he said.

And so a marriage begins.

(Read full post)

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