Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen ruled the conference for over a quarter of a century. Hansen was known for valuing the Olympic sports but not understanding — or putting enough effort into — building the Pac’s football brand.
Larry Scott was supposed to be different, but it’s striking how similar to Hansen he became.
This is affirmed in The Athletic’s oral history of Pac-12 Network:
(Former UCLA coach and Pac-12 Network analyst Rick) Neuheisel: I said we need to have some good (football) games if we’re going to make people find the game. It was actually the same strategy the SEC Network employed when they started their network. Remember that South Carolina-Texas A&M game? That was on their channel. The ACC did the same thing when they started that opening weekend with all those conference games, making sure that people had to tune in.
(Former Pac-12 Network programming director Mark) Petix: I will never forget this. On one of (DirecTV’s) FAQ pages, they said, “We do not have any carriage deal with the Pac-12 Networks at this time. However, we can assure you the bulk of quality Pac-12 games can be seen on Fox and ESPN,” and then listed out the scores in weeks 1-3 of the games that were on Pac-12 Networks. And it was one of the strongest flexes I’ve seen. It was bullet points of (blowout scores). You didn’t see a close result. [The average margin for all games aired by the network through its first five seasons was 23.7 points.]
Michael K. Young, Washington president (2011-15): The design was to make available (football) games of marginal interest. It sounds kind of insulting, but games that were not necessarily going to be picked up by ESPN. … And then to pick up an awful lot of the subsidiary sports.
It is worth noting that Larry Scott’s wayward vision, clearly not in step with the long-term needs of the conference, was not corrected by conference presidents. Scott drove the conference into its current position, but conference administrators didn’t put a halt to these bad decisions. That has to be pointed out.