Ryan yesterday provided the details on Pac-12's new TV contract with ESPN and Fox. The new commissioner Larry Scott basically hit the jack pot in $3 billion dollar deal for 12 years that works out to about $250 million dollars per year. Larry Scott deserves a lot of credit for upgrading the TV and financial footprints for a conference that had been lagging far behind other major conferences due to incompetence and lack of vision from its previous commissioner.
The new Pac-12 deal sounds great but did UCLA get its fair share in this new deal? There are some troubling questions on that issue that should put embattled athletic director Dan Guerrero under sharp focus. The concern here is not about Scott. Scott did his job about getting the conference bringing up to today's market standards. The concern here is whether Dan Guerrero did his job of looking out for UCLA's best interests.
Remember when Pac-12 announced realignment and a "new revenue sharing plan" back in October, USC and UCLA were supposed to receive $2 million more of broadcast revenue than the other 10 schools, until that revenue reached an annual threshold, which was supposed to be from $130 million to $170 million. Bud Withers from the Seattle Times provided the details of that special arrangement for UCLA and USC here. Under the new announced agreement that threshold now becomes moot. The reasoning for UCLA and USC getting more than other Pac-12 members was simple: these schools bring more to the table because of the LA market. There is also the respective "brands" of both schools.
Like it or not USC has a "brand" in college football. We have that in hoops. We do have a decent football history even though it has taken a huge hit under Dan Guerrero's leadership in last decade. Still UCLA has its share of draw and a lot of potential upside when it comes to college football. So one would think the athletic directors of both schools - Dan Guerrero and Pat Haden - would fight for their schools' fair share in this new deal. Did they do that?
Here is a quote in the Los Angeles Times from AJ Maestas, president of Navigate Marketing, a Chicago-based firm:
"If my client was USC, I would have asked for more money," he said. "The conference could not possibly get this kind of deal without USC as part of it. If you, as a school, are trying to maximize your revenue, UCLA and USC left a lot of money on the table with flat revenue sharing."
There is another angle to this. It costs a lot more money to maintain elite programs in Los Angeles that it does in places like Pullman, Corvallis, Eugene and Salt Lake City. It costs lot more to build facilities in Westwood. There is also the COL issue when it comes to paying skilled assistants in major revenue sports. So did Dan Guerrero make the case for UCLA when it comes to making sure Bruins were taken care of relative to other programs?
The answer is not clear. No one here has any confidence in Dan Guerrero and his dysfunctional athletic department for several reasons. We are not sure whether we can trust Guerrero and his staff to spend the extra revenue wisely. We also should raise questions about was Dan Guerrero sleeping at the wheel again and end up costing UCLA millions of dollars.