I was driving this morning and saw not one but two DirecTV trucks and not one but two signs for junk removal, and I couldn’t help but think about the Pac-12 and Larry Scott and George Kliavkoff.

All day Tuesday, in the wake of the news that Kliavkoff had reportedly presented Pac-12 powers that be with an insufficient media rights deal focused on a streaming partnership with Apple, I was thinking of apple adages. I couldn’t help myself.

Like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it sure won’t keep the Big 12 at bay.”

Like “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that’s good, because Stanford will be one of just a few teams remaining when all is said and done.”

And, of course, a rotten apple spoils the bunch.

But all this morning, after seeing the DirecTV trucks and the junk removal signs, I could only think of one: George Kliavkoff does not deserve another bite at the apple. He’s blown it, and now the conference might blow up.

After news of an emergency session of the Pac-12 brain trust on Tuesday followed Colorado’s defection back to the Big 12 last week, rumors started to leak about the details of a potential media rights deal with the media giant’s streaming service — Apple TV — that might total just $20-$25 million per school, far below what the Big 12 has reportedly inked for its media rights deal set to begin in 2025. There are reportedly escalators that rise based on subscription targets, but those include lofty targets that the league’s dwindling fan base would be hard-pressed to meet.

That’s right.

  • No primary linear television partner.
  • A revenue model based on subscriptions and lacking in solid numbers, which would wreak havoc on budgeting.
  • Very little clarity about the potential for additional linear options for particular television windows.

In 13 months, that’s the best Kliavkoff could come up with?

And we’re surprised conference members appear ready to bolt on a moment’s notice?

What a calamity for Kliavkoff. But not for the member schools, or at least most of them.

Arizona, Arizona State and Utah are being heavily courted by the Big 12, and Tuesday’s meeting must have done little to quiet the storm. Where does that leave Oregon and Washington, two of the most successful football program’s west of the Mississippi? Where does that leave Cal and Stanford, which has the most NCAA championships of any Division I university? Where does that leave Oregon State and Washington State, who are twisting in the wind right now?

And where does all that leave the Pac-12?

Nowhere good, of course.


If the Pac-12’s downward spiral was kicked off by Scott and those who foolishly believed the conference offered a much better brand proposition than it ever actually had, Kliavkoff at least could have stemmed the tide with some creative thinking, or at least a sense of urgency.

After USC and UCLA announced their intention to leave for the Big Ten last year, the conference should have gone into immediate expansion mode. The league’s very life depended on it. An immediate invitation should have been extended to San Diego State; how good would the conference looked if it already the Aztecs in the fold when they embarked on their March Madness runner-up finish? Talk about saving face.

Kliavkoff should have read the tea leaves and been honest with himself and Pac-12 leadership: Losing the Bruins and the Trojans had drastically harmed the league and reportedly stripped the conference rights value by as much as 40%. Trying to operate from a position of no power then was like staring in the face of a toothless lion.

Instead of trying to put together a package that catered to specific windows — a strength for the Pac-12 because of #Pac12AfterDark and expanded Thursday and Friday offerings — the league dithered.

We all laughed at the CW and TruTV and all the other ridiculous options thrown out there, but looking back, anything would be better than what the Pac-12 presented on Tuesday.

And now it will be lucky to survive.


What I’m now trying to figure out is … why do we care?

Were Baylor fans broken up by the news of the the Southwest Conference dissolution in 1996? The league had been around for 82 years! What about the forbearer to what is now the Pac-12, the Pacific Coast Conference, which disbanded in 1959 after 45 years?

The schools are the schools, and most of them will be better off. But not all. Just like Rice, SMU, TCU and Houston were left stranded by first Arkansas, and then Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech — which linked up with the then-Big 8 to form the original Big 12 — 4 Pac-12 schools are in precarious positions.

I don’t feel bad for the Pac-12 right now. It made its bed.

I feel bad for the fans of Oregon State, Washington State, Cal and Stanford, the 4 schools getting left out of major conversations.

As college football continues to consolidate, who knows if they’ll ever get another bite at the apple?