Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott got together with media members before the Arizona State-Washington State game, and most of the questions had to do with the late-night games that have predominated this year. Earlier this week, Elson Floyd, the WSU president, told me he’s chairing a CEO group of Pac-12 presidents, and Floyd said the late starts are “increasingly becoming a hardship for virtually every institution in the Pac-12.”
Scott conceded that “we’d like the pendulum to swing back a little bit” from the dramatic increase of night games in the league from 2012 to 2013. He noted that much of it is because Fox and its new channel, FoxSports1, is pushing night games. Despite some differences between the league and Fox, he said, “Long-term, (FoxSports1) will be great for our conference. They’re going to be a robust competitor with ESPN, they do a great job on production and we’re one of the featured rights-holders. They’re going to do a great job promoting Pac-12 football.”
The Thursday-night game in Pullman has been the object of lots of derision from WSU fans, because of the great distances many of them travel. Scott says there’s something of a rotation in place, so that every three years, a school should have to host a Thursday-night game twice — but not a third year.
As for the Cougars, he pointed out that they’ve “disproportionately benefitted” from the outsized TV contracts with Fox and ESPN that took effect in 2012.
And on a general level, he pointed out that his mandate from the league’s CEOs when he took office in 2009 was to goose the Pac-12 on a variety of levels.
“There’s been an adjustment (to the proliferation of night games), no question about it,” Scott said. “The higher priority when I came to the conference was: How do we get more TV, how do we get more exposure, how do we get our revenues up?”
That cash has propelled a burst in facilities on league campuses that Scott called “nothing short of remarkable.” Partly as a result, he said, “People are talking about the Pac-12 and SEC in the same breath. I know when I arrived here four years ago, I wouldn’t have heard that out of anyone’s mouth.”