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In the conference realignment game, a deadline is not a deadline – UnlistedNews

The latest spin on the college football-driven conference realignment merry-go-round took me back to the Pleistocene period of journalism, when I worked as a summer newsroom clerk amid telex machines, pneumatic tubes, and crates. of the desk full of alcohol in Los Angeles. Examining Herald.

A sign on an editor’s desk caught my eye: “Deadline is a two-syllable word.” Succinct and astute, he scoffed at one of the most sacrosanct tenets of the newsroom: stay on deadline.

But in the digital age of continuous publishing, the notion of a deadline, which combines two of Merriam-Webster’s most unmistakable words, has become somewhat malleable, a transformation that brings me back to the recent maneuvering of the San Diego State University.

If the school was going to drop out of the Mountain West Conference for the Pac-12 in one year, it faced a deadline of 11:00 p.m. Pacific time on Friday to notify Mountain West. Otherwise, his exit fee would double to around $36 million.

The problem: San Diego State did not have an offer from the Pac-12 Conference.

The reason: The Pac-12 did not have a media rights agreement. (More on that in a moment.)

As the hourglass emptied Friday, Pac-12 chancellors and presidents gathered for another of their regular updates on media rights negotiations. Mountain West was later informed by the State of San Diego that it would stay where it was. For now.

For this to unfold on June 30 was fitting.

On that date last year, Southern California and UCLA, the standard bearers of Pac-12 football and basketball, shocked the world of collegiate athletics by deciding to join the Big Ten when the Pac-12 television contract expires. after the 2023-24 season.

This opened the door of opportunity for San Diego State, which has long pined for a change to the Pac-12, a change that would not only confer legitimacy on athletics, but would also put a school at California on an equal footing with Cal-Berkeley. a flagship school in the most prestigious University of California system.

It would require a three-step process. First, the Pac-12 would secure a media rights deal. The remaining 10 members (expectedly the Pac-12) would then sign a rights grant, binding them to the conference for the duration of the media rights agreement. And finally, the conference would consider expansion.

Yet a year later, the Pac-12 is still in first gear.

The Pac-12, whose current deal with ESPN and Fox expires after this season, was locked out of several options when the Big 12 shockingly closed its media deal with Fox and ESPN last October, two months after the Big Ten announced their agreement. with Fox, CBS and NBC. The Southeastern Conference’s 10-year deal with ESPN goes into effect next year, and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s deal with ESPN runs through 2036.

That leaves few openings on the broadcast schedule to showcase the Pac-12.

“The problem for the Pac-12 is that all the other cards have already been dealt,” said Ed Desser, a sports media rights consultant, who noted that the only coveted spot would be Saturday night on ESPN or Friday night. the night on ESPN, Fox, Apple or Amazon.

The negotiations have failed for various reasons.

First, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff tried to persuade the University of California Board of Regents last fall to prevent UCLA from leaving, which would have given the conference the valuable Los Angeles media market. Angels to shop around. (In December, the board of directors voted not to block the measure.)

Also last fall, many media companies began cutting jobs across the board, most notably at Disney, which owns ESPN and said it would cut 7,000 jobs as it grappled with the continued impact of cable cuts. . And while streaming platforms like Apple and Amazon may be appealing, those companies are unlikely to find sports (non-NFL) programming a must.

It quickly became apparent that the media industry’s belt tightening would manifest itself in second-tier rights deals. Shortly after the Big 12 deal, which was considered largely below market at $31.7 million per school, the Pac-12 was adjusted downward by 10 percent from estimates of a deal it could reach if UCLA would remain.

Then came the delays.

Expectations of a deal for the start of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament led to hopes of a deal by the Final Four. And then in mid-April. And then surely for the beginning of summer. Now the assumption is that an announcement will be made before Pac-12 football media day on July 21, so the dominant story of the event is actually football.

Of course, what is in the agreement will have consequences.

The Big 12, which added Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston on Saturday, and could lose Texas and Oklahoma next year, is interested in stealing any Pac-12 school not happy enough to jump if the payout is significantly less. what the Big 12 is getting.

In that case, it wouldn’t take much — Colorado and Arizona gone, maybe, or Utah — for the Pac-12 to disintegrate.

These are the scenarios that San Diego State had to resolve. The Aztecs, who were one last push away from winning a men’s basketball championship and who regularly field a quietly competent soccer team, are in a familiar place. They agreed in 2011 to jump to the Big East for football, while playing in the Big West for other sports. But two years later, that deal fell apart, and they stayed in Mountain West.

Last month, San Diego State President Adela de la Torre wrote a letter to Mountain West saying the school intended to leave and asking for more time. There was a flurry of letters back and forth.

In the end, San Diego State determined that its exit from the conference may well be negotiable, as many have been before it. And so the school concluded that if a switch to the Pac-12 were to happen, it would happen on time, deadlines be damned.


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcus
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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