The Hotline mailbag is published every Friday.
Please note: Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity.
With the Big 12 setting the valuation floor on a media rights deal, is it better for the Pac-12 to wait and do the deal later next year? Let some time pass and look for a bigger increase? — @hereforsportUoU
This topic came up in conversation recently with one of the Hotline’s most trusted sources in the sports-media industry, and it’s a fascinating concept with supply-and-demand at the core.
The Pac-12 is the only Power Five conference with inventory available for any media company (legacy or new, linear or digital) that wants a piece of college football — or wants to increase its existing stockpile — at the highest tier of the sport.
Also, the value of live sports will only increase over time.
Supply is limited; demand is rising.
That dynamic suggests the value of Pac-12 football in the sports-media ecosystem will be greater in six months than it is today — and even greater a year from now.
In theory, a delay of that nature makes sense, especially with increasing interest from the non-traditional players such as Amazon and Apple. (The former is reportedly considering a sports streaming app, which suggests a bullish outlook for sports on Prime Video.)
And the strategy might make practical sense as well if the future version of the Pac-12 included the L.A. media market.
But with USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten, the terrain is simply too unstable — the risk of waiting is simply too great — for the conference to slow-play its media negotiations.
In fact, one could make a solid case that the sooner commissioner George Kliavkoff locks up a deal, the better for the conference.
What’s the outlook for Pac-12 teams in the preseason top-25 rankings for next year? It looks like a meat grinder of a season. — @trailblazerphan
The Hotline hasn’t examined 2023 rosters across the Power Five, and remember: Players have until the middle of January to declare for the NFL Draft (and enter the transfer portal).
But based on pronouncements to this point, the Pac-12 could have as many as six teams in the AP preseason top-25: USC, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Oregon State and UCLA (possibly in that order).
Add the likely lineup of quarterbacks, which includes the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (USC’s Caleb Williams), and the arrival of Deion Sanders in Boulder, and 2023 should be the most anticipated Pac-12 season in eons.
For a variety of reasons.
I understand players getting recruited out of Pac-12 territory by powerhouse programs, but how did Arizona, Arizona State and everyone else let Brock Purdy end up at Iowa State? — @WorkishFrom Home
Purdy played his senior season at Perry High School, in Gilbert, Ariz., in the fall of 2017, then signed with Iowa State in Feb. ’18.
That recruiting cycle coincided with Arizona’s transition from Rich Rodriguez to Kevin Sumlin and ASU’s switch from Todd Graham to Herm Edwards. Staff turnover often disrupts recruiting.
That said, Purdy was a two-time all-state quarterback who picked up a scholarship offer from Alabama. He qualifies as a huge miss for the Sun Devils and Wildcats and numerous other programs in the West.
The former jumped on him late — too late, according to an Arizona Republic story from the time: “(He) signed with Iowa State after politely turning down ASU after it made a late push to gauge his interest.”
Both the Wildcats and Sun Devils did a poor job recruiting their state for many, many years. The current coaches, Jedd Fisch in Tucson and Kenny Dillingham in Tempe, are intent on reversing that trend.
After several years of mediocrity, does this year’s Pac-12 non-conference performance move the needle in a media-rights contract year? — @RoaringForkDvl
It’s difficult to attach a dollar figure to success in a specific season, either for one team or a group of teams.
But generally speaking, the Pac-12’s football brand — that is, the end result of victories, TV ratings, top-25 rankings, honors and awards — is stronger today than it was four months ago, which can only help.
And based on the lineup of players and coaches for 2023, the upward trajectory should continue. Which also should help.
I wish it were as simple as assigning X millions to Y wins for team Z. But the valuation process is much more nuanced.
Thoughts on Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren emerging as a top candidate to be the next CEO of the Chicago Bears and the potential implications for college football? — @BruinSharman
In all candor, my first thought was that Warren, or members of his inner circle, leaked the story as a negotiating ploy.
Warren is wrapping up his third year in the Big Ten, and while we don’t know the specifics of his contract, this could very well be the window to negotiate an extension.
It’s not necessarily a bluff, because Warren might be intrigued by running an NFL franchise, especially one as storied as Chicago.
But if the Big Ten presidents haven’t moved as swiftly on contract talks as Warren hoped — or if they are lukewarm on offering an extension — the opportunity for him to return to the NFL could force their hand.
Warren’s desire to continue Big Ten expansion has been evident since the summer. Whether his motivation is for personal gain (i.e., his legacy) or a deep belief that it’s in the Big Ten’s best interest, we cannot say.
But at this point, support seems limited from the key players in the process. The Big Ten will expand again when Michigan, Ohio State and Fox want to expand again.
The commissioner isn’t the prime driver of that endeavor.
The only difference if Warren were to move on: Without him, the public focus on Big Ten expansion would subside.
Because of past public comments, Warren will be asked about realignment as long as he remains commissioner — thereby keeping the topic hot even if there’s no material movement behind the scenes.
When will the Pac-12 release the football schedule for 2023? — @SCHALL1989
My expectation for the schedule release is January, probably in the first half of the month.
We outlined some of the issues recently on the Hotline.
Any word on the rumored ACC/Pac-12 scheduling arrangement? Is it still going to be part of the new media deal? — @3CitiesGuy
Nothing new on that front, as far as we know.
The Pac-12 wants to arrange a series of home-and-home or neutral site dates with the ACC starting in 2024, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next media contract accounts for that possibility.
But it will take time to piece together because of existing non-conference matchups for schools in both leagues.
And we should add this: A series with the ACC would prompt the Pac-12 to decrease the number of conference games from nine to eight.
It won’t take that (major) step without a quality replacement for the ninth league game.
Will Oregon and Washington move to the Big Ten eventually, if not sooner? — @Utes_Galen
Several months ago, the Hotline presented our vision for the future of college football.
It addressed the ever-increasing economic pressures driving realignment and outlined several potential rupture points, including 2029, when the Big Ten will begin negotiating its next media contract.
With regard to Oregon and Washington leaving the Pac-12, “eventually” is a solid favorite over “sooner” — it doesn’t appear the Big Ten is on the verge of growing again.
But never forget: Until the Pac-12’s media rights and grant-of-rights contracts are signed, the potential for dissolution exists.
The Pac-12 likes to pair schools up, so would Fresno St. and Rice have any chance of consideration as nearby rivals for San Diego State and SMU, respectively? Is there still a possibility that Gonzaga is invited for basketball? — @MarcSheehan006
Let’s start with the acknowledgments that 1) anything is possible but 2) most outcomes are unlikely.
For instance, the Hotline believes it’s unlikely that the Pac-12 will expand beyond 12 teams.
We also believe it’s unlikely Fresno State and Rice will make the cut.
And that Boise State and UNLV will receive strong consideration.
Instead, our stance hasn’t wavered: SDSU and SMU are the clear frontrunners, with Gonzaga standing as the only non-football option — but expansion isn’t guaranteed.
I’d place the likelihood of at least one addition at 75 percent.
Are you so bad at your college football voting because you don’t watch games like Texas and Washington? — @blykmyk44
When did Washington play Texas?
Why do you continue to vote the way you do on your AP ballot? Did you not get enough attention as a child? Do you not watch the games? — @mmockovak
I watch as many games as possible and pay as much attention as possible.
But here’s a little secret: None of the voters watch every game every week. It’s impossible to watch all the games and cover college football at the same time.
Nobody knows that better than the AP itself, which is why the top-25 poll features voters from … wait for it … wait for it … every region.
When will the next ‘Canzano and Wilner‘ podcast be dropped? — @cnagledinho
Next week, and thanks for asking.
*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to email@example.com or call 408-920-5716
*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline
*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.