SDSU, PAC-12 and Big-12

Posted: February 12, 2023 in Uncategorized

A lot to consider especially with conference expansion continuing another wave of creative destruction/construction which could last well into 2023.

First, concerning the P-12’s negotiations with whomever (depends on the date) seem to have morphed since the November, 2022 claim of sending a “robust proposal” to ESPN and Amazon. Evidently, both companies yawned. Since this piece of seemingly imminent news, nothing has yet to develop with the P-12’s broadcast negotiations . . . with any media company. Fox, also during the month of November last year, reportedly was “sticking around” not wanting to miss out on 7:00 p.m. Saturday West coast football. Yet, here we sit with no P-12 renewal news or news of a new broadcast partner (streaming included) as of the date of my typing (2/12/23). In fact, one expansion maven referred to the P-12 as a “distressed brand” as recently as February 2, 2023. Distressed bands do not inspire confidence nor reflect positions of negotiating strength.

Scenarios galore surround the P-12 schools Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado joining the B-12. Given the tenuous (I’m being polite) nature of the P-12 negotiations, why the B-12 has not offered the aforementioned four P-12 schools is puzzling. The news of USC and UCLA joining the Big-10 was announced on August 2, 2022. Six months have passed. If the B-12 was serious about adding or offering four more schools, the bell has long been silent. Any two, forget four, schools that leave the P-12 signals the likely disintegration of the conference. Power Two (SEC and B-10) plus Two (B-12 and P-12) football is a billion dollar industry full of competition. Why would the B-12 wait to eliminate a business rival with a well timed invitation to current competitors? I am flummoxed.

On January27, 2023, SDSU athletic director, J.D. Wicker, sounded the call for a P-12 invitation while also suggesting a B-12 offer may be in the making. Obviously, Mr. Wicker is a man impatiently waiting on interest to mature. I believe he is also tapping his foot. The miracle moon shot would be an offer to the Aztecs from the B-12. Even though I mentioned the possibility of only two teams joining the B-12, if SDSU is offered then they (we) must be one of four in total. Running various scenarios involving media market size, local population/regional population, geographic location, stadium size, potential bowl game and success of men’s basketball, the Aztecs joining a combination of any of the following resulting in a total of four to the B-12: UNLV (don’t laugh. If Brett Yormark embraces his statement “The Big-12 is open for business” then he understands the idea of long-term investment) and the aforementioned Arizona schools along with Utah and Colorado.

I find dubious the published news as of February, 2023 that SMU is suddenly on the P-12 radar. SMU plays in a stadium smaller than Snapdragon. Glancing at their most recent ten-year won-loss record does not compare to the Aztecs over the same time period. However, the Mustang’s men’s basketball has largely been successful the last decade. Plus, the Dallas TV market is #5 nationally. Most impressive. Yet, I doubt, other than a SMU fan, anybody in Dallas finger punching the remote to switch from a UT football game to watch the Mustangs.

I again offer the idea of investing in Las Vegas (is this the line Bugsy Siegel used to convince his mob investors?) along with SDSU. In addition to owning the Nevada media market (sorry, Reno), a sizable football stadium (65,000 seats) and a very attractive bowl destination is part of any UNLV invite/acceptance.

Returning to P-12 contract negotiations and recent history, the P-12 is better served by expanding now, followed by negotiating with whomever. Certainly, a place and demand exists for 7:00 p.m. football (the fourth window of Saturday college football viewing) along with the occasional start times prior to the early evening. American football fans have a seemingly insatiable appetite for the college brand. The more George Kliavkoff delays, wonders and pauses about expansion the more unlikely a substantial increase in contract value. Consider the media attractiveness of Corvallis, OR and Pullman, WA in comparison to San Diego, Las Vegas and/or Dallas. Do you prefer a wilted flower to a bed or roses?

Now that the B-12 has granted Oklahoma and Texas an early exit to the tune of $100 million (with a portion bound for Fox to cover never to be broadcast 2023 Longhorn and Sooner football games), the time for further B-12 expansion seems well-timed. Certainly a portion of the non-Fox bound funds can be used to allure a candidate who may not be able to participate fully in the current B-12 media contract. Perhaps ESPN and Fox might consider an addendum to the recently contractual agreement resulting in close to a full share for the next wave of B-12 members? Happens everyday in the land of finance and business.

My hope for San Diego State University is the mildly unlikely B-12 invite. An accepted P-12 invite should include SDSU acknowledging and anticipating the possibility of ultimately belonging to a different group of member schools as compared to the current group to date as 2023 unfolds.


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