Years of languid management left the Pac-10 conference increasingly isolated from the rest of the college football world. A sub-par television deal caused a lack of media exposure and resulted in meager payouts to the conference members ($8-10M annually per school compared to $17M for the SEC and $22M for the Big-10). Pathetic bowl tie-ins—only one on New Year’s Day—further cemented an east coast bias that was a factor in the Pac-10’s numerous BCS snubs over the last 10 years.
Oh, have things changed in a hurry. Led by its new commissioner Larry Scott, the Pac-10 has shaken up college football with its impending invitation to six Big-12 schools. This unprecedented move would create college sports’ first super conference: a 16 school league spanning three time zones with 7 of the nation’s top 20 television markets (historically conferences have been characterized by regional proximity and cultural ties). Scott’s job is to position the conference’s product in order to market it most effectively. This effort is primarily geared towards the television networks as the Pac-10’s current deal expires at the end of next season. Furthermore, the new Pac-16 (or whatever name it will be called) will be seeking a partner to help form its own cable network, which will exponentially increase the member schools’ exposure to the rest of the country.
Scott’s revolutionary strategy to market the Pac-10 conference has rocked the landscape of college football. It is a great example of the iconoclastic, irreverent, even barbarian approach that TopRight is examining in its upcoming book In Search of Marketing Excellence. At first glance, the Pac-10’s move seems insane, unconventional, and maybe even delusional. As time goes on, however, it will surely be regarded as visionary and ingenious.