Ohio State AD reveals the one key factor that led to Pac-12 demise

Gene Smith, Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Gene Smith, Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith explained why the Big Ten was eventually able to add Oregon and Washington, resulting in the hostile takeover and eventual death of the Pac-12.

Mo money, mo problems…

It was all a dream. I used to watch Pac-12 After Dark! Now we are left with a Pacific Four, consisting of two Bay Area academic elitists and two Step Brothers from the Northwest. This all came about because the Big Ten decided to go big-game hunting again out West. The league landed USC and UCLA last year and just added Oregon and Washington, who will also join in 2024.

What went into the Pac-12’s death? Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said “FOX brought new money to the table” during the negotiation processes. Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger reported that without FOX’s additional cash, the West Coast acquisitions would not have happened because Oregon and Washington were not willing to take anything less than full distribution revenue.

Given that the Big Ten is the richest of the Power Five conferences, nothing was going to stop FOX from making sure it didn’t lose any potential market share to the other leagues in college athletics.

This was the right call from a business standpoint for FOX to further invest into the Big Ten here.

Ohio State AD shares what led to the Big Ten essentially ending the Pac-12

Look. You cannot leave two traditional West Coast powers like Oregon and Washington hanging if you are 100 percent set on bringing them into the Big Ten fold. They had to be full members from a revenue distribution perspective, especially if USC and UCLA already were when they decided to come aboard a year ago. To have four new schools in with differing payouts would have been bad.

The biggest reason why the Big Ten added Oregon and Washington in the first place is not distribution, but rather inventory. The Big Ten Network is easily accessible in any media market in the country. You may have to pay additional for it outside of the Big Ten geographical footprint, but you can still get it nonetheless. Adding Oregon and Washington is about having more night games.

Whether it be linear or streaming, more content is king in the latest wave of media rights deals. Yes, the linear model will still be intact for a little while longer, but having the ability to not just put USC and UCLA in the 10:00 p.m. ET viewing window on Saturday nights is a huge boost for the Big Ten’s continued growth. The league also knows that the Ducks and Huskies will draw a TV number.

It may have been quite the investment by FOX in the Big Ten, but it is one that will totally work out.

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