With schools scrambling for television dollars, the NCAA finds itself at a difficult crossroads. And for that matter, so does the Pac-12. The NCAA is now at risk of further realignment and, potentially, the collapse of an entire conference. With USC and UCLA off to the Big Ten in 2024, the Pac-12 is in dire straights. The conference is currently on life support as it fights for its life amid threats from more prominent conferences with more lucrative television deals. Paul Finebaum didn’t give any reassurances about the Pac-12’s bleak future as he recently filled in as a guest co-host on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast.
“It’s just a continual story that every time I hear or see a tweet, ‘Pac-10 nears [media] deal,’ I just shrug my shoulders,” Finebaum said.
Finebaum mentioned that he was recently with the president of the University of Arizona, Dr. Robert C. Robbins, a couple of weeks ago in D.C. at a summit about NIL. He asked Robbins, the event’s host, about a potential media rights deal and was told they were “really close.”
Finebaum then turned around and asked John Ourand how often he’s reported that same thing for the Sports Business Journal.
“All that tells me is they’re going nowhere…If they get [a media deal], it would be a good one. And I think that league is very diminished,” Finebaum said. “I don’t think they’ll ever be able to put those fires out. Even with a new deal. Even if it’s with Apple or Amazon or some cobbled-together group, they’re still in big trouble.”
Finebaum mentioned that the continued rumors don’t exactly paint an optimistic picture of the future of the conference. Those rumors, of course, involve Arizona and Colordao heading to the Big 12, while Oregon and Washington have been rumored to be heading to the Big Ten.
“I would want out. I would not want to be part of the Pac-12 anymore because I think their future is bleak,” he said. “And we already have an issue in college athletics where the SEC and the Big Ten have literally just left everyone else behind from a television standpoint. The race is now to be No.3; the Pac-12 has no shot at that…if you’re a member of the Pac-12, you are literally going to the dollar store looking for other schools…Why would you want to be in that league if you could get out?”
"I would want out. I would not want to be part of the Pac-12 anymore because I think the future is bleak."
— Sports Business Journal (@SBJ) July 9, 2023
This isn’t exactly the first time that Finebaum has sounded the alarm about the fragility of the conference. Just recently, Finebaum doubted that the Pac-12 would survive three more years and doesn’t believe it can exist as a conference for much longer.
Big changes are afoot in college football, and as Finebaum mentioned, the Big Ten and SEC have left everyone in the dust, as they’ve constructed de facto “super” conferences and are poised to rid themselves of the Power Five model that’s been in place for over a decade. There’s no turning back with the College Football Playoff expanding from four to 12 teams in 2024, further incentivizing schools to follow the money while leaving the Pac-12 without a pulse.