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Commentary: George Kliavkoff received burned by USC and UCLA. Now he is chasing a Pac-12 wonder

Late previous July at Pac-12 media day, I fulfilled George Kliavkoff in the lobby of the W Hollywood, hunting for a explanation to be optimistic about the league’s foreseeable future immediately after Texas and Oklahoma bolted the Major 12 for the Southeastern Convention.

The new commissioner supplied it.

Kliavkoff, a huge-time govt at MGM Resorts, was an not known in higher education athletics circles, certain. But the hope was that his unique outsider’s point of view would assistance the Pac-12 quit enjoying from guiding and function a lot more proactively than reactively.

“I really like it. I love the complexity,” Kliavkoff instructed me of the realignment situation. “It’s three-dimensional chess, and it is exciting to participate in.”

At that instant, Kliavkoff was fielding calls from distressed customers of the Major 12 who ended up hopeful to connect by themselves to the West Coast’s Electric power 5 conference. If he could have gazed into a crystal ball and glimpsed the occasions of June 30, 2022 — USC and UCLA stunningly saying they ended up leaving the Pac-12 for the Significant 10 setting up in 2024 — Kliavkoff in all probability would not have turned down the likes of Oklahoma Point out, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas Christian.

Nowadays, the Pac-12 is susceptible to the poaching of better-positioned leagues. There’s an argument to be produced the Massive 12, which responded to losing Texas and Oklahoma by including Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, now offers extra steadiness than the Pac-12.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that the Big 12 is speaking this week with Arizona, Arizona Point out, Colorado and Utah. The pitch to individuals colleges — a couple of which have publicly refuted Dodd’s report — would be that the Significant 12 has a unified membership that by now has recognized that the Major 10 and SEC will not be pursuing them in enlargement attempts. In the Pac-12, proud applications like Oregon, Washington and Stanford are undeniably open for business and hoping to sign up for USC and UCLA in earning a lower of the Major Ten’s $1-billion-in addition media legal rights deal.

Why would the rest of the Pac-12 remain fully commited when they just cannot reasonably have confidence in the other faces staring back again at them in the course of Zoom meetings?

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Given the disparity in convention income distribution concerning his league and the Large Ten and SEC, Kliavkoff had to know there was a probability at the incredibly the very least that USC — his lone blue-blood soccer plan — could depart for a a lot more rewarding house and that there would be nothing at all he could do to stop the Trojans.

Properly, it happened, and UCLA left way too. Now we will discover out no matter whether Kliavkoff can actually play chess.

“He’s excellent at navigating ambiguity, when you do not know what the remedy is but you know there’s a whole lot of disruption,” Beth Comstock, who introduced Kliavkoff in as main digital officer at NBC Common close to 2006, told me final summer time. “That’s why we employed him at NBC. Out the other conclusion came anything that’s withheld the rest of time.”

That a little something she referred to is Hulu, the thriving streaming system. As I wrote very last summer time, “Kliavkoff’s past is packed with instances of earning moves that appeared clear to him and weren’t pursued as quickly by competitors.”

From this place on, trying to keep the Pac-12 from dissolving and obtaining the league in some type into a new media rights agreement would qualify as Kliavkoff’s crowning enterprise accomplishment.

A indication for the Pac-12 baseball tournament sits above an entrance to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Stadium on Might 25.

(Ross D. Franklin / Related Press)

He was dealt a getting rid of hand from his predecessor, Larry Scott, and, by not pursuing growth with the Significant 12 universities last summer season, he ended up shedding far more. Kliavkoff’s blunder was placing his faith in USC to remain faithful all through an period of higher education sporting activities in which there is no these types of issue as loyalty.

Surely he’s acquired that lesson, which can only assist him likely forward. If Kliavkoff exhibits up to this year’s Pac-12 media working day July 29 and the league still has 10 users publicly signed up for 2024 and beyond, I’ll phone that an early victory.

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So considerably, the Pac-12 is doing what all leagues do in this state of affairs. It declared that its universities authorized the conference office environment to look for expansion alternatives and start negotiating the conference’s following media legal rights package deal. The information getting sent is that all 10 colleges are committed to one particular yet another, which is what the remaining eight Huge 12 educational facilities did final summer months. It finished up ringing real only mainly because the league had no other solutions.

Existing Tv set associates ESPN and Fox will have an special window to negotiate with the Pac-12, but let us bear in mind that these networks have been the driving force at the rear of SEC and Significant Ten enlargement the last two summers. Their priority is not saving the Pac-12, which Fox just confirmed by seizing the L.A. current market for its Major Ten negotiations.

University football is heading towards a breakaway of the best educational institutions, which are heading to be positioned in the Big Ten and the SEC. There is no extra Electrical power 5 to shield. Which is over. If the “Power Two” ended up going to quit at 16 customers, 1 could argue that the Pac-12 and ACC ought to merge so that Florida Condition, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington could be less than 1 roof, but it’s not likely the Massive 10 (Fox) and SEC (ESPN) are done finding from that pool.

The Massive 10 can find the money for to wait out a selection from Notre Dame. Right up until there is an respond to out of South Bend, Oregon in individual is just likely to have to understand to be cozy getting uncomfortable. And let’s not forget about Stanford could be much more appealing as an 18th workforce. The Ducks could be pressured to commit to the Pac-12 or be a part of a team of peers that head for the Massive 12, but they could possibly as properly signal their identify in pencil.

It is extensive past time for Pac-12 management to show some cunning. A checkmate specified the present-day search of the board would go down in historical past as Kliavkoff’s Miracle.



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