Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff is the most talked-about man in college football media nowadays. The leader of the so-called ‘Conference of Champions’ is looking to secure his league’s next media rights deal while not only trying to convince TV partners of the value of his league’s content but also trying to convince current Pac-12 member schools to remain patient and not do what USC and UCLA did last summer.

The league has been negotiating for its next deal for months.

Washington State president Kirk Schulz said on Tuesday that the league hopes to have a deal in place by mid-March. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand also reported on Tuesday that Apple has emerged as a potential landing spot for Pac-12 football games.

A plan similar to the one Apple TV+ has in place with the MLS — all-inclusive access to games for $99 — could be in the cards for the Pac-12.

That possibility was met with groans on social media from Pac-12 fans.

Marchand opined on his most recent podcast with SBJ’s John Ourand that a college football entity shouldn’t want to be on Apple’s streaming service at this point. But the Pac-12’s prospects are limited.

“If the Pac-12 is going to get as much as the Big 12, it’s going to have to piece things together, which might not even be possible,” Marchand said on Wednesday’s episode. “If they’re going to do a deal with ESPN, Amazon — I think FOX is basically out — they’d have to piece that together. I’m not even sure that’s possible. There’s nothing close at the moment, from what I understand.

“The Pac-12 really has to come way down if it wants to do an ESPN/Amazon deal. The wild card out there is Apple, and I don’t know if that’s real or not. If it can be a real thing, do you want to be on Apple? … When you talk about where this is going, you have to be a little concerned for the Pac-12 because if you don’t get the money of the Big 12, will schools stay? Will the Arizonas stay? Will the Colorados stay? Will Utah stay? The problem for them is if one leaves, it kind of becomes everyone fighting for spots because they don’t want to be left behind.”

Bob Iger’s return at Disney has put ESPN in more of a cost-conscious mode. FOX is believed to be mostly out. CBS is believed to be out. And Amazon, according to Marchand, doesn’t believe it needs to pay a premium.

Marchand reported last September that the Pac-12 was “hundreds of millions of dollars apart” from ESPN when it came to negotiations. Ourand said on Wednesday’s pod that, even in spite of that gap, that may have been the Pac-12’s best deal.

“Here’s the problem that the Pac-12 faces: There was a good deal to be had six months ago. Back when you were talking about how far apart the two sides were,” Ourand said. “In the ensuing six months, all of the traditional television stations… CBS, which had been kicking the tires is out, FOX did the Big 12 deal … NBC has its Big Ten (deal) and primetime, there’s not a lot there, and ESPN is becoming a lot more cost-conscious.

“It’s just a really tough market if you’re a college conference that’s not the Big Ten or the SEC right now.”

The full podcast can be found below. The duo also spent some time talking about Apple’s streaming strategy. (That section begins around the 17:30 mark.)