We hear all the time that fans and media underrate west-coast sports teams simply because they don’t often stay up to watch them. To hear some people tell it, 10 p.m. ET tipoffs and kickoffs cost West-Coast players hype and attention, while costing west-coast teams postseason bids.

Well Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is not complaining.

Scott was asked Friday whether he was worried about late-night start times costing his conference exposure, and his answer was awfully interesting.

Not only is Scott not resentful of ESPN and other networks for airing Pac-12 games when the East Coast is asleep, he credits those networks for his conference’s success.

Scott makes some valid points. In 2011, when the Pac-12 agreed to a 12-year contract with ESPN and Fox to air basketball and football, the conference was struggling on the court. Six years later, the Pac-12 has recovered from that down period and reemerged as one of college basketball’s top conferences, with three teams currently ranked in the top seven nationally.

Given the ongoing issues faced by the Pac-12 Network—no deal with DirecTV leading to low coverage and unhappy athletic directors—the Pac-12’s deal with ESPN and Fox is more important than ever. If that means some 8:30 P.T. tipoffs, the conference will take it.

And really, the claim that playing on the West Coast limits exposure to recruits matters less than ever these days.

Pac-12 schools, like just about everyone else, recruit regionally first, and among west-coast high schoolers the conference has plenty of exposure. The Pac-12 doesn’t necessarily need every kid in Florida to be watching its games, as long as every kid in South California is.

Plus, with the proliferation of highlights on the internet, teams and players can get plenty of exposure without anyone watching live. Lonzo Ball might be the most famous player in college basketball right now, even if many people on the East Coast have scarcely watched his UCLA team play.

So it figures that Scott isn’t anxious to throw ESPN and Fox under the bus for late tip times.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10, VICE Sports and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Raymond Chuang

    Remember, before the current broadcast deal, Pac 12 football games and basketball games were ONLY available on regional sports networks based on the US West Coast–an issue that irked even nationally-recognized USC to no end. The current ESPN/Fox Sports deal means at least their games are getting coverage in most of the USA–and frankly, many college athletes want to play in the Pac 12, especially when you don’t have to deal with snow between November and April.