The brass of the Pac-12 Conference has recently come under fire, especially after a four-part exposé. Though there is a lot of work to be done to right the ship, Go Joe Bruin offers several immediate suggestions on how to improve the conference’s brand.
The Pac-12 Conference is not doing so well at the moment. The conference is about to miss the College Football Playoffs for the third time in five years, no one seems to care about the Pac-12 Championship Game, and commissioner Larry Scott has come under fire for the shortcomings (and extravagant spendings) which were revealed in a recent exposé.
Unless you have totally written off the Pac-12 Conference, you might be privy to the heat Scott and several conference higher-ups have taken after the Oregonian released a four-part series on how the Pac-12 is falling behind in the college football arms race.
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With all of these problems affecting the conference, the writers of Go Joe Bruin got together and came up with several immediate solutions to help the Pac-12 brand in the short term. We understand that it will take several years to undo the damage Scott has done, but in the interim, the Pac-12 could make several smaller changes that could expedite the process.
Jon Wilner, the “Godfather fo the Pac-12”, recently gave his thoughts on how to fix the conference, but they are more long-term fixes (still, you should read his article). But in the next 12 months, these quick fixes could have the Pac-12 back on the path to success (and atonement).
A Year of Free Streaming on Pac-12.com
The Pac-12 owes their fans, far and near. The Pac-12 Network is not only unavailable on DirecTV, but AT&T Uverse is about to drop the network. Until they can get deals done with cable providers, they will continue to lose viewership, meaning even fewer people will be watching. With that in mind, for the next year, the Pac-12 Network should be free to stream on their site and the Pac-12 app. Not only will fans flock to these outlets, but it will greatly expand their outreach, especially to those on the East Coast. And not just the main Pac-12 or local channels, all the regional channels. The Pac-12 owes their fans.
No Kickoffs Later Than 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET
Enough of this “Pac-12 After Dark” schtick. It was fun while it lasted but in reality, it is not fun to emerge from a game at 11:30 p.m. It is even worse for fans on the East Coast. Why would anyone want to watch a game that kickoff at 10:30 p.m. and end around 1:30 p.m.? That is just misguided planning and senseless reasoning. Late night football does not give the Pac-12 a monopoly on that time slot. Why? Because no is watching or cares.
Take the Legal Hit, Move the Pac-12 Championship Game to Las Vegas or Los Angeles for 2019
The Pac-12 Conference has an agreement with Levi’s Stadium through 2019 with an option to extend to 2020. I know it is easier said than done, but they need to kill that contract for 2019 and move the game to a place that is (1) not hard to get to and (2) will actually draw fans in. Vegas or LA, make it happen, Scott!
A Complete Overhaul of the Officiating and Play Review Crew
After the season is over, there will be eight months before the next season begins. The Pac-12 needs to terminate those in command that has been a liability (and an embarrassment) this past season, bring in competent and unbiased professionals, re-write the guidelines for reviewing plays, conduct extensive training for new officials, and hold those accountable for their mistakes.
Improve Pac-12 Media Day/Signing Day Coverage
Not to say that Pac-12 Media Day and Signing Day coverage is boring, but it is boring (if anyone can see it). Along with free streaming, making these key coverage days more available to the masses will help grow the brand. Media Day is ok (it could be better), but Singing Day lacks flare. Send the talking heads to each of the 12 schools to get the need-to-know and up-to-the-minute information that will keep fans interested.
8-Game Conference Schedule
The 2019 schedules have not been finalized, but the matchups are. With the North and South Divisions losing and gaining specific conference games from 2018 to 2019, the Pac-12 should make the switch to an 8-game conference schedule now. Lose a game from the opposing division and schedule a fourth non-conference game, possibly in November (that is SEC thinking right there). Make it a cupcake, it doesn’t matter. If the Pac-12 wants relevance, they need to churn out wins. not keep dying traditions.
End the SoCal/NorCal Lock Games
This was a weak condition from the very start. When the conference expanded to 12 teams, part of the agreement was to have UCLA and USC keep their games with Cal and Stanford on a yearly basis. This is not necessary. Variety will help the conference move forward and give every Pac-12 school an equal look at every other program over several seasons.
No More Back-to-Back Road Games, End Friday Games (especially the Pac-12 Championship Game)
Here is another experiment that needs to end. It is extremely difficult for teams to play on the road in consecutive weeks. What is even harder is when their opponent is coming off of a bye week. In addition to that, Friday night games, to put it simply, are dumb. Not only does it take away an extra day of practice for these programs, but it is hard for fans to make it to the games, especially in the bigger metropolitan areas where traffic can be a nuisance. With that in mind, move the Championship Game to Saturday like everyone else.
Full Transparency and Autonomy for the Officiating Crew
There should be no reason why someone outside the Pac-12 officiating crew should have a say in reviewing a play. The officiating crew should be in complete control of their department and not be influenced (or overruled) by outside sources.
Cut the Salaries of Pac-12 Executives
The exposé’s revelation that Larry Scott is making more money than any other Power 5 Conference commissioner raised some eyebrows, especially when the Pac-12 is clearly the weakest of the five conferences. This needs to change. Though the conference executives might not like this, they should think about what the student-athletes they represent think about them living such lavish lifestyles.
Split the Conference into Divisions for Basketball, Save the Rivalries
The Pac-12 has not just fallen behind in football, but basketball as well. With this one nod to the 12 hoops programs, it could be in the conference’s best interest to split into divisions like football. Not only will it lock-in local rivalries to play twice a year (this year, the Pac-12 biggest rivalry, UCLA and Arizona, will only play once), but it will give the top two teams in each division a better chance of winning the conference tournament and lower the chance of having a team not qualified to make the NCAA Tournament get the automatic bid. I detailed what this could be like in an article I wrote earlier this year, The Advantage of Splitting the Conference into Divisions.
As stated above, there is a lot that the conference needs to do to make it a powerhouse once again and most of that will take time, but if they want to get back into the good graces of their fans sooner than later, these quick fixes could put that into motion sooner than later.