Pac-12 commissioner says league at 'optimal size'
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Friday that the conference is at an ``optimal size'' and is unlikely to expand anytime in the ``foreseeable future.''
While other leagues pursue further expansion, Scott said before the conference championship between No. 8 Stanford and No. 17 UCLA that Pac-12 members are more than pleased with the current structure. He also said he anticipates most rival BCS leagues moving to 16-team ``super conferences'' at some point, but that alone would not force the Pac-12 to expand.
``I won't sit here today and say under any circumstances or never, but this is something I feel very good that we've been at the forefront of,'' Scott said. ``We've pretty much seen this coming. And last fall, we sat down with our presidents and said, `It's pretty clear to me that our peer conferences are going to 14 and eventually probably 16, although I don't know when that will happen.' And in a world where there are 16-team conferences, we had a thoughtful discussion on where we want to be.
``We had options to go beyond 12,'' Scott continued. ``We will have options in the future. But we made very clear in a strong statement, I think, that 12 is the optimal number for us and allows us to balance very much the geography that we have in six states, rivalries, our teams want to play each other very often, and for a lot of reasons this is where we want to be for the foreseeable future.''
Scott has done his best to put the Pac-12 ahead of the curve.
Since taking over on July 1, 2009, Scott has overseen the conference's expansion to include Utah and Colorado and create the inaugural league title game last season, which Oregon won over UCLA. He also negotiated a landmark 12-year television contract - which began this fall - with Fox and ESPN worth about $3 billion and helped created the Pac-12 Networks and Pac-12 Digital Network.
While a deal between the Pac-12 Networks and DirecTV is still in limbo, Scott said the conference has contracts with more than 50 distributors around the country, including four of the other top five carriers.
``I'm certainly disappointed that every distributor hasn't taken the network yet, but not surprised,'' Scott said. ``Anybody that follows launches of new TV networks, certainly we studied other collegiate ones like the Big Ten Network, they don't tend to become fully distributed right away.''
Other league matters of note:
--Scott said it's unlikely the league would move the championship game to a neutral site for at least the next few years. The conference believes a ``host site'' creates more of a typical football atmosphere and, more importantly, increases ticket sales.
--The league will talk with ESPN about whether the network wants to move the title game from a Friday night to a Saturday next year. Fox has broadcast the first two years on a Friday night. ESPN takes over next year and will alternate broadcasting the game with Fox in the coming years.
--Scott said there will not be any NFL-style injury reports in the conference, as had been discussed earlier this season. He said there are ``strong opposing views'' within the league. However, he plans on talking to other conference commissioners to explore the possibility of uniform injury reports across the country. He said coaches also expressed they could be at a competitive disadvantage on weeks they are playing out of conference - even if they didn't have to make information available - because previous injury reports might already be made public.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP