The bomb dropped today folks and it was a doozy. The Pac-12 has been given a spot at the table once thought to only be reserved for the SEC and the Big Ten. They're about to put the ink on a deal that puts them clearly in the company of the other two power conferences and more importantly leaves clear separation between the newly crowned Big Three and the Big XII, ACC, Big East, Notre Dame and all non-BCS teams. This, of course, does not include Texas as they are super boss of all boss type activity.
As a conference the Pac-12 will be getting between $2.76 and $3 billion dollars over the next twelve years for their TV rights. That works out to roughly $225 million-ish per year and around $17 million-ish per team (league share as well).
Yeah, Fox and ESPN are paying that. Good lord that's a lot of money.
Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 did work. He is a man that saw the opening created by the ACC re-upping with ESPN and capitalized on Fox's desire to remain a player in the college football arena. Hats off to all Scott but let's not use hindsight to write John Swofford's deal off, at the time he did a solid job as well.
So the league is flush with cash once the deal starts up this summer and others are sitting around wondering how the Pac-12 was able to pull this much cash and complaining about their own league's deal I found myself literally dazed, staring glossy eyed at the Pac-12 with some envy and wondering how they will piss me off. To be fair, I don't hate them because they're in the Pac-12, no I just have a pre-disposition towards utter disgust with teams that are okay with mediocrity.
As we discussed last week during our tier ranking system every school is going to have a ceiling and some are higher than others and I totally understand that point. However, with this infusion of cash we should see the Pac-12 programs' ceilings climb a bit and so too should the expectations for the individual programs themselves.
Read more for what we "should" see out of the Pac-12...
In short that means Washington State better start spending more than $400,000 on men's recruiting. It means the entire league's recruiting expenditures should be at or near the $1 million mark that we've seen the SEC attain in the last few seasons. Spend more on visits, more on getting kids to campus, more on coaches flying to scout kids, hell even more on the little things like the form letters, food during visits and the hotel stays that kids get.
This infusion of cash also means upgrading your facilities. Weight rooms, locker rooms, student athlete areas, lounges, academic centers and coaches offices should get better. In most places these areas are palatial, the Pac-12 needs to follow suit. It will help in recruiting; not just players but in recruiting coaches as well.
Which brings us to the biggest upgrade the conference should be making; coaching. Not just head coaches but entire staffs. Colorado is a school we've seen struggle financially; being forced to hang on to Dan Hawkins two years past his sell-by date because they couldn't afford the buyout. Washington State has been sitting on Paul Wulff, unable to upgrade their coaching situation because the school can't afford to improve their position.
Now they've got no excuse. No reason to wallow in mediocrity. No reason not to have stud offensive and defensive coaches or that elite recruiter. You can afford to out bid other schools, now do it.
That means Wulff, Neuheisel and Erickson immediately go on notice. Wulff's been out and out terrible. Slick Rick has been absolutely unable to re-energize the fan base or win at UCLA. Erickson has had some success but he's been wildly inconsistent and he is coming up on a make or break year with the Sun Devils.
Hell, I'll also throw Stoops and Tedford on to this list as well. Both have achieved pretty well at their current location of Arizona and Cal respectively but it looks like they're hitting their ceilings. Stoops has tailed off mightily at seasons end in each of the last few years. Tedford appears to be in a holding pattern, he's now been passed by Oregon in the Pac-12 pecking order and that elusive outright Pac-12 title seems even more distant today than a few years ago.
For now guys like Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Mike Riley, Kyle Whittingham, Chip Kelly as well as the new faces at Colorado and Stanford are safe but with the new money we can expect leashes to be shorter and seats to be hotter.
Welcome to the pressure cooker Pac-12, where there will no longer be excuses accepted for 7-6 seasons.
Which leads me to close on UCLA. Sure other schools like Colorado, Washington, Arizona State and Utah have expectations to improve but for me UCLA is the big elephant in the room. To put it bluntly there is no way a school with almost 25,000 undergraduates, a well established alumni base and a 91,500 seat stadium should be a minor blip on the college football radar the way the Bruins have allowed themselves to become.
They're located in fertile California recruiting ground where, while USC gets their pick, there are still plenty of talented athletes to go around. There are players there to be had, with this cash windfall the two excuses that have plagued UCLA; money and coaching, should disappear. Hire a good coach. Not a safe hire, not a retread, hire a guy that's going to do more than put an ad in the paper once a year to "rile up" the Trojans across town.
Hire a guy that's going to bust balls, fire folks up with some energy and in short do exactly what Auburn has done on The Plains; create their own hysteria through recruiting.
There is no excuse for UCLA to not be in a BCS bowl in the next decade. The money will be there for upgrades both in facilities and in administration. The money will be there to put the time and energy into recruitment, that means getting players that are going to push UCLA forward. The money for upgrading your staff will be there. Going 7-6 in a somewhat down Pac-10 in 2009 is disappointing, posting a 4-8 record in 2010 is unacceptable.
With the new cash coming into the Pac-12 the biggest story is going to be what teams do with the money. There is no reason we shouldn't see improvements across the board and UCLA should lead that pack after allowing themselves to lay in a quagmire of abject mediocrity for over a decade.