The demise of the Pac-12 seemed to happen in slow motion over the last couple of years before it completely imploded in a hurry earlier this month.
After USC and UCLA announced they were bolting for the Big Ten, the conference dragged its feet on a new media deal, eventually presenting something that seemed wholly unappealing to most member schools. That opened the door for Colorado to leave for the Big 12, where they were eventually joined by Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah. By the time Oregon and Washington announced their intentions to join the Big Ten as well, the Pac-12 was officially dead as we know it.
Not so fast, says Oregon State AD Scott Barnes.
“For us, our priority, again, is keeping the Pac-12,” Barnes told The Athletic last week. “We think it’s in the best interest of our student-athletes and our fans to build back the Pac-12. We have inserted ourselves in every conceivable conversation, every feasible conversation at the Power 5 level. And I would say that our best option is rebuilding the Pac-12.
“Obviously, (Group of 5) options are out there. But that’s not our priority.”
Barnes noted that OSU is working closely with Washington State, Cal, and Stanford on what happens next, though it’s worth noting that both Cal and Stanford have been heavily rumored as heading to the ACC along with SMU.
In order to get in a position to even consider a new media deal, whatever that looks like, the “Pac-4” would need to expand in a hurry. And right now, there’s not much to discuss with potential media partners.
“We’re going to wait till we have more answers on the things I’ve mentioned,” Barnes said when asked if they’d be speaking with network executives. “The assets we retain. The membership that we have. And then immediately move to that phase.”
The AD is very realistic about how whatever kind of media rights deal is ahead for him and the other remaining Pac-12 schools, it’s not going to be much.
“Whatever those (media rights) dollars are, the reality is they’ll likely be less than what we’re making currently,” he said. “Now, that could grow over time. But we could be likely dealing with less annual revenue from all aspects of conference revenue streams. So we’ve got to be prepared to fill those gaps.”
Barnes adds on multiple occasions that the conference mates will “know very soon” about what the next steps are. To be fair, people around the Pac-12 have been saying something similar for the last two years, and that hasn’t worked out great as of yet.