Pac-12 Goes with Glitz and Glam Commissioner Hire

Greg Sankey is the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. He was a longtime employee of the SEC who was promoted to the most influential conference in college athletics.

Jim Phillips is the new commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was the Athletic Director at Northwestern for 12 years. I knew Jim when he was on Bill Frieder’s basketball staff back in the late ’90s before transitioning to athletic administration. Today, the Pac-12 hired George Kliavkoff as their new leader.

Kliavkoff’s resume starts with his current position at MGM Resorts International. BetMGM, Cirque du Soleil, and WNBA Board of Governor are also part of his makeup. Draw your conclusions on the hire. Current Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson was my first choice, followed by Oliver Luck and Gene Smith.

I’m not saying that this was a bad hire because I simply don’t know. I am pointing out that the Pac-12 leadership looked for something much different in their employment than the vaunted SEC or ACC. 

Here’s what I do know. Suppose Kliavkoff can fix the lousy television contract, making it a burden on fans to watch or attend games. If he can rebuild the Pac-12 Network and distribute it, the rest of the issues will fall into line. I’m sure that he will find revenue opportunities.

Sure, with the legalization of sports gaming coming to almost every state, he’ll be able to check that box. But what is he going to do that will convince dozens of the top high school football players in the West to stay at home rather than go to Alabama (Bryce Young), Clemson (D.J.Uiagalelei), and on and on. 

Can he go to CBS and snatch the coveted 12:30 pm PST kickoff window vacated by the SEC, who’s heading to ABC/ESPN. Could he parlay that into games being on CBS’ sister network Turner Sports, who do a great job with their NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage?

Could he open a picket of games and shoulder programming with the new Bally Sports Network? Will he create more early-season national games at PAC-12 venues? LSU plays UCLA, Oregon meets Ohio State, Stanford plays Notre Dame.

While I like Arizona and Arizona State playing BYU this year, the game shouldn’t be in Vegas. It should be in Glendale. Look at the model of the SEC with their usage of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Look at Jerry World in Dallas.

The time has come here in our great state to have both ASU and Arizona play national brand teams in Glendale rather than their on-campus stadiums. 

Being a fundraiser/marketer is necessary. I wouldn’t say I liked seeing Stanford cut 11 sports last year, but the biggest issue by far for the new boss man of the Pac-12 is to fix the content and distribution. It’s the biggest detriment to the conference…