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By: CUBuffs.com
Pac-10/12 Commissioner Larry Scott (right) address a June press conference in Boulder.
Brooks: 'The Commish' Drops In, Other Luncheon Morsels
Release: February 03, 2011
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
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DENVER - For the first time since a June appearance in Boulder, Pac-10/12 Commissioner Larry Scott paid an in-state visit on Thursday in conjunction with Colorado's annual downtown Football Preview Luncheon.

Scott accepted an invitation by CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn to help acknowledge what he termed "a celebration of the future . . . there was interest from the alumni base in meeting me and looking forward to the new beginning of the Pac-12. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come back and show our conference's support for Colorado coming in."

Before Scott was introduced at the luncheon, which drew upwards of 1,200 to the Hyatt Regency Downtown Convention Center, he addressed a variety of topics with local media and CUBuffs.com:

  • Expected revenue from the Pac-12 in 2011. The original plan was for CU to leave the Big 12 Conference for the Pac-12 in 2012. But with Utah exiting the Mountain West and beginning Pac-12 competition in 2011, all parties were in agreement that CU should do the same. Because of the expected move in 2012, CU initially was told it would receive no revenue from its new league in 2011. That's changed. "When CU reached out to us and said they would like to come early, we said we'll work and figure out as best we can - but it was always clear we couldn't tear up our TV contracts, which is our major source of revenue. So we just said we'll have to figure out what we do about it," Scott said. "The agreement that we reached is that they will get a pro-rata share of new revenue, incremental revenue by virtue of playing. They will get several million dollars next year from us because we were highly successful in negotiating our championship game deal. They will get money even though we didn't guarantee them money . . . but it won't come anywhere close to what they're foregoing and what the buyout will be (about $6.9 million to leave the Big 12). I think that payback will wind up being a very prudent financial move more based on the future TV deal."
  • Pocketing revenue from televised non-conference football and basketball games. CU won't have that option, Scott said: "They'll be in our TV package next year and that's the rationale for them getting some share. But in our conference, conference games that are not televised as part of our TV package . . . they will have the right to sell. I don't know how many, but typically there might be two, three or four games that won't be on ESPN, ABC or Fox that they'll have the right to sell. So that could be an incremental revenue stream - and there could be others. We're going to keep talking about other ways we could help (CU)."
  • Playing this fall's CU-California football game as scheduled. Negotiations between the schools are on-going, Scott said, calling playing the game "problematic in different respects." If the game, originally scheduled for Sept. 10 in Boulder, is played it would be considered non-conference. "It wouldn't make sense for one team to have more conference games than someone else," Scott said. He conceded that it would be "a little awkward . . . but if it happens, I'd just chalk it up to one of those transition issues that you have to deal with when the conference expands - kind of like the reason we had to do a one-year deal for a Pac-12 championship football game." CU's 2011 schedule shows Sept. 10's opponent to be announced.
  • The ESPN-Texas network's bearing on Pac-12 TV negotiations. The parties recently announced a 20-year, $300 million deal, and Scott said, "If anything, I think it will be positive in that we've stated our sincere interest in a Pac-12 network. I think the only other conference network out there is the Big Ten. I think the fact that ESPN has made the level of investment they've made in (a network with Texas) validates that there's a market . . . in that case it's a school network, not a conference. But in my view is if they can get that kind of money for a one school network with the kind of programming they're going to have on it, it bodes extremely well for what we're going to do, what kind of premium product we're going to have as a 12-team conference." The Pac-12's TV negotiations will get underway later this month and will be "a pretty extensive and intensive process that I expect to last several months," Scott said, adding that an outcome before this summer is unlikely. Who in the TV world is interested? "I would just say that there's a lot interest, a lot of national interest in the Pac-12, in some of the changes we've made, what we want to do. The cable TV business is very robust right now." Scott said the Big Ten network offers a model to be analyzed by the Pac-12: "We're very fortunate that (it) exists so that you could study what they've done well, if they were going to do it again, what they would do differently. They were the first; I'm sure compromises were made along the way. We've got the benefit of their experience." He also said the business aspects of a possible Pac-12 network "have to make sense" and called being in control of your own network "very attractive." Most professional leagues have their own networks and website operations, noted Scott. A huge bonus for the Pac-12 would be in exposure for the conference's Olympic sports: "Our schools are prolific in terms of the Olympic sports' success . . . it's a way to promote and distinguish what's unique about this conference," Scott said.
  • The use of charter flights for Pac-12 basketball travel. Currently, Pac-10 schools rarely, if ever, travel via charter in basketball. CU's men's and women's teams do it routinely, and there has been some concern about travel in the 2011-12 season. Scott said the Pac-10 does not have a policy prohibiting the use of charters and that "going forward, we're looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes." But the future use of charters likely hinges on the Pac-12's game days; the Pac-10 men now play on Thursday-Saturday, the women play on Friday-Sunday. The exceptions are in-state rival games (UCLA-USC, Washington-Washington State, etc.). Game days in hoops will be addressed in the new league's TV negotiations, and Scott said, "My view is we've limited our national exposure and our revenue by only playing two nights. We're going to look at the issue afresh. We're certainly going to consider playing on different nights - not just Thursday and Saturday. However, if we do that there's a very high premium in our conference on minimizing missed class time. If we move off of the Thursday-Saturday (schedule), by definition we're going to move into charters for basketball so teams can get there and back and not miss anymore class." He also said the concept of "travel partners" - CU likely would be paired with Utah - "works really well . . . we won't come off it just to come off it."
  • The possibility of expanding beyond 12 schools. The Pac-12 has achieved its comfort zone, or as Scott put it, "Twelve seems to be the magic number . . . the logical step." In part, that's because NCAA rules state a league needs 12 members to hold a championship football game, and creating divisions is simpler with a dozen teams. "Having said that . . . I don't think we've seen the end of expansion discussions," Scott added. "There was a lot of traction around the idea of a super-conference - 16 teams." He said that coming from the "pro sports world (tennis)," he found college sports "very fragmented . . . everything I know about sports and the commercial side of sports suggests that there would be more value for everyone if there was further consolidation. I think we will see a day when we go to 16-team conferences. But I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon." Still, he added that anything the Pac-12 does structurally will include the "flexibility" that would allow for future expansion.
  • Pac-12 ends, odds. Could cross-scheduling of fall sports - i.e., football, cross country, volleyball - at one site on the same weekend be considered in the Pac-12? Scott called the concept "interesting . . . I think (now) it happens more by happenstance, but it's a neat idea." . . . . The CU men's and women's teams have several doubleheaders this season. Could that idea be explored for men's and women's same-opponent games in the Pac-12? Scott also termed that proposal "interesting." . . . . With the addition of two new members, Scott said the Pac-10 isn't likely to increase its bowl tie-ins beyond the current six: "Pretty much all bowl deals are done; everyone did four-year agreements."
  • Luncheon morsels: Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam made his first public appearance at a CU-related event since winning the award in 1994. Salaam said with the hiring of Head Coach Jon Embree and Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy, "I had to come out." He elicited laughs reading his letter of application to La Jolla Country Day School, where he played eight-man football . . . . Former Buffs Coach Bill McCartney predicted "an extraordinary season is about to unfold" for two reasons: CU's move to the Pac-12 and the hiring of Embree and the staff he's assembled. "Mac" said Embree's staff "matches up with any" assembled during the McCartney Era . . . . After McCartney concluded an impassioned address, Embree followed and said, "Now you see why USC, UCLA and Ohio State didn't get me." Embree, a Cherry Creek tight end, was recruited by all three super-powers . . . . Former Buffs quarterback Darian Hagan was CU's running backs coach for the past four seasons. Embree retained him, but in the role of recruiting coordinator. But, noted Embree, Hagan "will be back on the field soon." . . . . Among the CU traditions Embree will go about restoring is the "big-game bricks" featured in a lower-level hallway that leads to the dressing room in the Dal Ward Athletics Center. The "big-game bricks" formerly featured the date and score of a CU win against ranked opponents, or a the date and score of a game that was significant for another reason. Embree said the tradition begins anew with Hawaii - the debut of the Embree Era (Sept. 3, Honolulu) . . . . Embree had hopes of adding another local signee on Thursday to his first recruiting class. But when that didn't happen, he adjusted the total of "flipped" recruits - those who initially committed to another school but signed with CU - from eight to seven. Three of those recruits previously committed to fellow-Pac-12 member Washington. Said Embree: "I think Washington is going to be our new rival." . . . . Embree paid tribute to in-state signees Marc Mustoe (offensive lineman, Arvada West) and Brady Daigh (linebacker, Mullen) for staying at home to play . . . . Overall, Embree said his first recruiting class "improves our speed, athleticism and toughness." . . . . Just over $75,000 was raised at for the athletic department at this year's luncheon. The attendance almost tripled that of last year.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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