UCLA Chancellor Chuck Young Tells Larry Scott To Turn Down Music And Pull Up Jeans

Expansion.  It has been a hot topic all summer long.  Whether it was the Pac10, Pac12, or even the monstrous Pac16, a lot of digital trees have been murdered discussing this topic.  Well, Cal alum and respected Bay Area columnist Glenn Dickey recently took a look at expansion.  Relying solely on the thoughts of former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young, Dickey came out strong against expansion:

Scott’s original idea was to entice Texas to bolt from the Big 12 and lead other Texas and Oklahoma schools into a separate wing of what would be the "Pac-16." But, Texas had no incentive to leave the Big 12. It was only using the Pac-10 as a bargaining tool with the Big 12.

Now, the Pac-10 is left with the worst of two worlds. Adding Utah and Colorado will do nothing to enhance its TV viability. Figuring added travel costs, "It may be a net loss," Young said.

The chancellors and presidents still have to give final approval. Let’s hope they stop this freight train in its tracks.

Dickey and Young are very much against expansion.  In reading this article, I found myself more and more confused and, ultimately, more and more agitated.  The facts underlying the arguments put forth by Dickey (and really Young, who is the sole source for this piece) did not seem to relate to facts I was aware of in the real world.  Further, I saw people at various places, including here at CGB citing this piece as something more than ridiculous fantasy! 

I decided to take some time to do some real research on this matter and see if the allegations made by Young via Dickey's piece were unfounded.  After several hours of work, I determined that, in fact, very little of the Dickey piece and Young's allegations are even remotely close to accurate.  Many of the statements and numbers promulgated in the article seem to have no basis in reality and it is unclear how the author and his source arrive at these statements.

Follow me after the jump to learn more about the piece by Dickey, Chuck Young's factual allegations, and my research.

So, let's take a closer look at this article.  I am not entirely sure if fair use requirements allow me to quote each line I wish to refer to individually, because that could lead to me quoting the entirety of the article.  So, I will paraphrase the sections I wish to respond to and you have the link in the above introduction to reread.

 

1.  The Knight Commission.  The first thing to look at it is Dickey's reference to Young as being on the Knight Commission.  He uses this as a means to appeal to authority.  It is an attempt to make Young's points seem more legitimate not because of anything in the points themselves, but because Young is on a panel.  But what is the Knight Commission?  Wikipedia tells me the following:

  Currently, the commission serves as a de facto watchdog group which seeks to reform issues in college sports, mainly relating to excesses in recruiting, gender equity, and academic problems of student athletes. As an independent commission, it has no official connection to governing bodies such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the primary sanctioning body for college sports in the United States, or any government agencies.

 

 

While they seem to have an important and interesting role to play, they have no official relationship.  Young has no more power in this situation than I do.  Except Young could get the ear of important people due to his connections, I am sure.  I should also note this from the Wikipedia article:

A survey released at the meeting, titled, "Presidential Survey on the Cost and Financing of Intercollegiate Athletics"[4]revealed the subsidies provided by most FBS institutions to their athletics budgets are rising more quickly than educational budgets. This, together with other opinions revealed in the survey, underscored the Commission's urgency to address the escalating costs of college sports through collective action, which requires support from presidents, NCAA leadership, university boards of trustees and conferences across the country.

This is important for later, but note that the Knight Commission is doing research and providing recommendations on the issue of subsidies provided by many schools to their athletics budgets.  Hmmm, remember that.

 

2.  Academics.  Next, Young and Dickey talk about the academic angle.  He casts aspersions on the academics of Colorado and Utah and feels that they pull down the academics of the conference.  There are two responses to this:

First, here is a list of school rankings based on the US News & Reports.  I can't quite figure out how to rank all 12 schools on one page, so here are the other 4

Here is the list of all the schools:

5.  Stanford

22.  Cal

23.  USC

25.  UCLA

41.  Washington

86.  Colorado

111.  Oregon

111.  Washington State

120.  Arizona

129.  Utah

139.  Oregon State

143.  Arizona State

 

Here is the Academic Rankings of the World Universities, which some people like more than US News & World Reports.

2.  Cal

3.  Stanford

13.  UCLA

16.  Washington

32.  Colorado

46.  USC

78.  Arizona

81.  ASU

82.  Utah

 

Other schools including Oregon, Oregon state, and Washington State are not listed in the Top 100.  So, to me, the argument about academics is a clear non-starter.  Two separate rankings show both Colorado and Utah well within the normal range for Pac10 schools.  Neither Colorado nor Utah are elite schools like Cal and UCLA, but they are both well above Oregon State and Washington State, amongst other schools.  Young says that Colorado is equal to Oregon and Utah is not even "in the picture."  This is simply not accurate


By both of these metrics, Colorado is far superior to Oregon and Utah is well into picture.  Young is either looking at other numbers that I am not aware of or simply does not know what he is talking about.

 

The second response to Young's concerns regarding academics is that he was the chancellor for UCLA in the late 70s when the Pac8 turned into the Pac10.  At that point, Young did not block the inclusion of two of the less academically prestigious schools into the Pac10, Arizona and Arizona State.  Not only that, he was the original spark for expansion!

 

The '78 expansion was driven by UCLA chancellor Charles Young and Arizona president John Schaefer and not by TV revenue.

In May 1976, Young announced he would send UCLA vice president John Sandbrook to Tucson and Tempe to explore the possibility of expansion. This time, the Pac-10 hired a Hollywood marketing agency.

 

So, in 1978, UCLA chancellor Charles Young pushed to include two of the less prestigious schools academically into the Pac8.  Now, 32 years later, he's against the inclusion of two academically equal or superior schools.....because of academics.  Young is talking the talk now, but 30 years ago, he was not walking the walk.  He even faced people who didn't want to vote for expansion in the Pac8:

In December 1976, Washington president John Hogness said he would not ratify the UA-ASU expansion. The deal required a unanimous vote. "I've consistently said I'm opposed to the two Arizona schools joining the league," Hogness said. "I still feel that way."

Hogness also indicated that Stanford president Richard Lyman "didn't believe the Arizona schools are academically compatible with Stanford."

 

Young was successful in convincing all parties to vote for the expansion, so at that time he was completely and totally ignoring the academics argument. 

 

3.  Geographic Sense.  Young and Dickey next assert that the expansion makes little sense geographically.  In specific, he argues that there is a pod system with schools in each state.  But the pod system is kept here, because we just keep Utah/Colorado in their own pod.  So, that argument holds little water to me.  It is not as if we are adding Colorado and San Jose State or Utah and Northern Arizona University. 

The next part of his argument I do agree with, however.  He discusses how it could affect the California rivalries.  I am with him 100% here.  It would be truly unfortunate to lose the Cal-USC and Cal-UCLA games.  In my view, I'd rather have the Cal-UCLA games as I really enjoy the UC relationship.  So, point Young here!

 

4.  Spending Of Money.  Next, Young posits the Pac12 schools will spend this increased money from expansion on paying coaches more instead of on other more important needs.  He also argues that they will spend the increased money from expansion on hiring more coaches instead of other more important needs.  Let's take these in turn.

Firstly, regarding paying the coaches more, I would argue that against Young is not in a position to know this.  He is not affiliated with any school at this time and is not privy to the plans of the universities.

Second, I would argue that it is not Larry Scott's job to spend the universities' money for them.  It is Larry Scott's job to make more money for the universities.  That is his sole focus.  Once the universities get the money, then it is out of Larry Scott's hands.  Expansion is the means by which Scott has decided to increase the money for the universities.  How the universities spend the money in that sense is unrelated.


Third, I would argue that the schools will not just spend the money on additional coaches' salaries et al.  I think that this is another way of Young essentially saying "They pay those coaches too much!"  It is an argument I see from time to time.  When I see it, I point out a few key facts that should be noted here.  I will use Coach Jeff Tedford's contract as an example of how schools pay their coaches and whether increased revenues from expansion would go to pay these coaches more.

Tedford's contract (which you can read in pdf format here) is a complicated one.  Section 3 on page 1 states that Jeff Tedford's base salary is $225,000.00 per year.  Now that doesn't seem so big and is well under market, right?  Section 8 on page has more information.  It states that Tedford will also receive a talent fee of about $1.5 million dollars.  What is a talent fee????  The Chron has further information:

To alleviate most of those questions, the initial contract terms are simple. Tedford's base salary would jump 34.4 percent, from $167,500 to no less than $225,000, and his "talent fee"' would see a similar rise from $1,332,500 to $1.575 million. The talent fee is widely believed to be funded by Nike, which provided Cal with its dashing array of uniform combinations this season.

It appears that Nike pays the vast, vast, vast majority of Coach Tedford's salary.  So, when Cal gets more money from the expansion talks, they will not need to look at paying coaches more, because there are private sources involved that take care of that.


Regarding Young and Dickey's second argument that the Pac12 schools will use the increased revenues from expansion to hire more coaches, I am not even sure this is possible.  Valued reader CalBear81 noted to me during discussions of this post that there are limits on the amount of coaches that a sport can hire.  That is why we have a tight ends/special teams coach.  In relation to football, they can have essentially 10 coaches:

 

Football staffs are allowed a head coach and nine full-time assistants on the field. Beyond graduate assistants, other staff members cannot work on the field in practice.

 

You might have read that the coach at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez, got in trouble recently.  This was because he was circumventing this rule by having non-assistants (graduate or otherwise) performing coaching duties.  So, even if Cal got an additional $1,000,000,000.00, they could not hire more coaches.  Again, Young's allegations do not seem to match up well with reality. 

 

In fact, it is more likely that Cal will use the money to save several sports from being cut.  Regular readers of this site will be aware that a battle is brewing on Cal's campus.  With severe budget cuts to Cal from the state, many players on the academic side are increasingly outraged by subsidies given to the athletics department.  In fact, even Sports Illustrated mentioned it in a recent article on expansion:

 

Money matters. Earlier this month, a presidential committee at Cal released a scathing report that found that between 2004 and 2009, the university had given between $7 million and $14 million each year to subsidize the athletic department's now-$70 million budget. Those are taxpayer dollars funding sports at a time when faculty salaries are frozen and academic budgets are being slashed.

 

In that same article Scott himself pointed to Cal's situation as a reason why expansion is important:


 

Scott understands why some faculty members want to cut athletics subsidies completely. It's his job to find a way to generate enough revenue at the conference level so member schools won't have to cut sports or extras such as academic support for athletes if their universities decide they can't afford to subsidize athletics. "Cal is a microcosm of what's happening across our conference and, frankly, across the country," Scott said. "So I feel a tremendous responsibility and pressure, in a sense. ... There is more pressure on schools and conferences to be entrepreneurial, to pay for themselves."



Young is incorrect when he says that the schools will just "waste" the money on coaches salaries in football/basketball.  Those sports tend to be more subsidized by private sources.  It is the lesser known non-revenue sports that need help.  It is Scott's job to get Cal the money to save these sports.  Scott is just doing his job.


Further and you might remember this from before, but the Knight Commission is looking into subsidies for athletics departments.  And I'll bet dollars to donuts that their recommendation is not "an increased amount of subsidies, please!"  They probably want the athletics departments to try to be more self-sufficient and not take money from academics.  Well, guess what?  SCOTT IS TRYING TO DO JUST THAT!  So, his criticisms make no sense given Young's role in the Knight Commission. 




5.  Promotion.  Young and Dickey then blame Scott for attempting to promote the Pac10.  I am not even making this up.  Go and read it for yourself.  They complain that Scott wasted money to charter a flight east to promote the Pac10 in New York and in Connecticut at ESPN.  They say that because of time zone problems, nobody is ever going to care about Pac10 sports, so why even try?  Why even try?  BECAUSE IT'S LARRY SCOTT'S JOB!  Young says the East Coast won't see the games and they won't care.  Well, maybe they will be more likely to care if they've seen some of the players/coaches on ESPN? 

I'm not sure I'll spend any more time on this criticism, because I would be stunned if I found that it was proffered in good faith.  Only somebody comically inept at promoting Pac10 football would offer this criticism.  I bet former Pac10 Commissioner and Tom Hansen is behind all this!  If you think I am being too harsh, read this except from the SI story above about a decision made by Tom Hansen that, for no real apparent reason, kept the Pac10 regional instead of national:

In one a-ha moment, Scott was stunned when he learned from ESPN/ABC executives that the conference had turned down the reverse mirror option for split telecast football games on ABC. Reverse mirroring allows the portion of the country that doesn't get a particular game on ABC to watch that game on one of ESPN's family of networks. For example, if 33 percent of the country is getting Oregon-USC and 66 percent of the country is getting Michigan-Iowa on ABC, the east-coasters and Midwesterners who want to watch the Ducks and Trojans could simply tune to ESPN2. So instead of exposing the entire country to its product, the previous Pac-10 regime had forced Pac-10 football to remain largely a regional entity. Scott immediately corrected that mistake, telling ESPN that for the remainder of the existing contract, it could reverse mirror Pac-10 games at no extra charge.


Considering what Young is dealing with, every and any move towards promoting the Pac10/12 is a major step in the right direction. 

6.  Original Idea.  Young next argues essentially that the Pac10 got played by Texas and Utah/Colorado was Plan B.  This is a complicated argument that is not necessarily the scope of this piece.  The Whither Texas? question is a hotly discussed question and one you can look further into here.

Here, I want to discuss what was the original plan.  Again, Young is flat out wrong.  Utah/Colorado was not Plan B.  Here is an article from December, 2009 by ESPN writer Ted "Uncle Ted" Miller stating that Utah/Colorado were the most likely option:



Bringing in Utah and Colorado might be a winner (Salt Lake City and Denver markets), and at least one Pac-10 athletic director said that's the most likely scenario. Of course, prying Colorado away from the Big 12 might not be easy.



Here is another article from February of this year, well before the insanity of June.  It states that Utah will join the Pac10 and Colorado might.  It also states this:

Texas is a stretch and they have rejected the Pac-10 in the past

So, people were looking at Colorado and Utah well before the whole Pac16 concept occurred.  And discussion of including Texas seem implausible.  Again, Young's statements are not consistent with facts that exist. 

Whether the whole Pac16 madness was Texas using the Pac10 as leverage or Texas trying to get out of a bad situation and getting stymied by the legislature or any number of other conspiracy theories, who knows?  But for the purposes of this post, that does not really matter.  Young's criticism again falls flat. 


7. TV Viability  The final criticism levied by Young and Dickey is that Scott will not succeed in raising more money.  He states that bringing in Colorado and Utah will not increase TV viability.  This is not accurate.  This is complicated and I hope I do a good job of explaining the process of TV negotiations (which I am not exactly an expert on).  There are two different negotiations taking place here:


1)  ESPN/Fox Sports TV rights - Where ESPN and other TV channels pays the Pac12 to carry Pac12 games.


2)  Pac12 Channel - Where Comcast and other cable companies agree to "carriage contracts" where they carry a Pac12 Channel.


Whether it is the ESPN/FSN negotiations or the Pac12 Channel negotiations, the concept for negotiation is similar.  Larry Scott wants to come to the negotiating table with as many potential TV viewers as possible.  Here is why:


Carriage negotiations with several major cable companies were stalled for several months because the cable providers wanted to put the channel on a sports tier and charge only customers who wanted it, and Big Ten Network wanted to put it on extended basic so that cable customers would not have to pay extra for it
That is from the Wiki entry for the Big 10 Network.  The Pac12 Channel would be modeled off of the Big Ten Network, which was sort of the pioneer for conference-specific channels.  What it is saying is that these Conference Channels are not open only to people who wish to subscribe to the channel.  It is not as if I, the viewer/consumer, can just subscribe specifically to the Big Ten Channel, the way I can subscribe specifically to channels such as HBO or Showtime.




Instead the consumer would have to subscribe to a certain cable packages.  This is where the huge fight between the BigTen Network and the cable companies took place.  The cable companies perceived the Big10 Network as a niche marketing channel.  The cable companies wanted to keep the Big10 Network out of most of the more popular cable packages.  The cable companies feared that if they added the BigTen Network to their extended basic package or other basic cable packages, it would be akin to a tax on their consumers.  I say "tax," because anybody who wanted to have the extended basic package would have to pay for the Big10 Channel, even if they did not want to watch the channel at all. See, the cable companies pay the channels for the privilege of carrying them.  Then, they turn around and pass on this fee to the consumer in increased fees for the package as a whole.


ESPN charges a huge price to the cable companies, because ESPN is so popular that it alone can drive purchases of extended cable packages.  A channel like the Big10 is not on the same level.  However, the Big10 wants exposure for its sports.  The Big10 knew that if it was placed on very specialized cable packages, only hardcore fans would seek the channel out.  Thus, it would not get the exposure it wanted.  This theory would be the same for a Pac12 channel. 


As noted above, after a lengthy fight, the cable companies agreed to put the BigTen Channel in a lower tier cable package, which was a great deal for the Big10.  Any time somebody purchased Comcast's extended basic package, the Big10 would get a certain subscription sum, even if that consumer had no interest in watching the Big10 Network.   

This article from HuskerExtra notes how much money the Big10 Network receives:



The network receives 88 cents per subscriber per month inside its eight-state footprint and 5 cents outside, according to Baine

For a variety of reasons, 88 cents might be much more than the Pac12 Channel could hope to attain per subscriber.  However, I wanted to give an example similar to the Pac12 Channel.


So, Larry Scott does not have to bring as many fans of the Pac12 as possible to the negotiating table.  No, instead, he really needs to bring as many people who reside in areas to be covered by the channel.  The more people you have in your area, the more people Larry Scott can say will be interested in the channel and thus interested in purchasing extended basic or whatever cable package.  Thus, Larry Scott can charge a higher subscription price to the cable companies or at the very least convince them to put the Pac12 Channel in a basic cable package, creating further awareness of the Pac12.  



Negotiations with ESPN/Fox Sports to carry Pac12 games are similar.  The more people Larry Scott can say will be interested in watching the game, the more interested ESPN will be.  The more people watch the games, the higher the ratings.  The higher the ratings, the more ESPN can charge advertisers.  That is, of course, ESPN's bottom line.



So, it is pure population that we need to investigate.  Going forward, Western states have the highest population growth in America.  Here is the official census.gov site with population projections from 2000-2030.  You can click on Table 7 (Excel Spreadsheet) there to see that the government predicts that between 2000-2030 Utah will grow approximately 56% to a population of approximately 1.2 million people.  If you compare their population numbers to Oregon, you will see that Utah is a little less, but roughly similar in size to Oregon. 

Colorado is going to grow by approximately 35% and again their numbers are roughly similar to Oregon and even slightly better.  Arizona, by the way, is going to grow over 100% and many of the Western states show the strong amounts of growth, especially compared to north eastern states.  So, we are adding two more states with populations similar to Oregon to the negotiating table.  These are two of the fastest growing states in the nation and these are both states where college football is very popular.  Hate them or love them, Utah follows the Utes.  Utah is THE school in the state of Utah, similar to how Colorado-Boulder is the flagship school in Colorado. 

What does this all mean?  When it comes to negotiating carriage agreements and Television rights, Larry Scott now has more leverage.  He has the most populous state in the nation.  He has several major media areas.  He has added two of the fastest growing states in the nation, roughly equal to adding two more Oregons to their negotiating hand. 


So, it is my view that between the negotiation of a new contract and the creation of a Pac12 channel, the addition of these two population centers will put Larry Scott in a better position to make money for the Pac12. 

 

8. Travel Costs.  Finally, Young decries the potential increased travel.  He says that because of the increased travel, it *may* be a net loss financially.  Yes, it *may* be a net loss.  Michael Mohamed also *may* be the starting QB for Cal in 2010.  *May* is a word that means nothing.  The Pac12 also *may* be an astounding success.  May is a weasel word used to throw in certain ideas that are unclear without having to take a stand.  Well, I will take a stand.  There won't be increased travel.  Let's take UCLA, Young's school.  It is approximately 950 miles from LA to Seattle.  It is approximately 575 miles from LA to Salt Lake City.  It is 825 miles from LA to Boulder. 

 

I could keep going on this.  The Arizonas to the Oregons and the Washingtons is certainly a lot of mileage.  Also, neither Washington State nor Oregon State are near major population centers/airports, while Utah and Colorado are, so that again cuts down on travel. 

 

Again, the facts as presented by Young are not consistent with reality.


9.  Conclusion

This article is based on the confusing and completely inaccurate statements of the former UCLA chancellor Charles Young.  I think my post speaks for itself.  Reality just does not match up with the 'facts' as presented by the former UCLA Chancellor.  The facts are simple.  Expansion is the best thing to happen to the Pac10.  It is the only way to save multiple sports at multiple campuses.  Without expansion, the Pac10 would fall further behind in the college football arms race. 

 

Tom Hansen did nothing at all to help promote the Pac10 and took actions that kept it regional.  Larry Scott has taken an aggressive stance and should be commended.  Dickey should not be relying solely on one completely inaccurate source in writing hit jobs against expansion.

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