Arizona and Arizona State coaches often don’t agree on much.
But a former Sun Devils coach and a former Wildcats coach have found common ground in their worry about the state of the conference they used to coach in.
Dennis Erickson, who coached Arizona State from 2007-2011 and Rich Rodriguez, who coached Arizona from 2012-2017, were among several former Pac-12 football coaches quoted in a recent CBS Sports story questioning the future of the conference amid the league’s inability to land a new media rights deal and amid swirling college conference realignment speculation.
“What is to stop Oregon and Washington from going to the Big Ten, from Arizona and Arizona State going to the Big 12?” Rodriguez, now the coach at Jacksonville State, told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd in the story. “I would think they’re teetering on the brink right now.”
Rodriguez addressed the Pac-12’s ongoing media rights deal saga in the story amid reports that the conference could potentially partner with a streaming service for games.
“I know most everybody can get ESPN+ or the streaming things,” Rodriguez said. “You’re not going to have it on in the bars. … Your visibility will never be the same, ever. Then there’s just the perception, ‘Oh, you guys played? I didn’t see it.’ And then you won’t be talked about.”
More:Pac-12 on ION Television? Conference slammed after potential TV media partner report
Erickson speculated about the lack of a TV deal impacting recruiting in the conference.
“It’s nice when you can turn it on a regular channel and not worry about all that other stuff,” Erickson told CBS Sports. “I think it will hurt them in recruiting, no question.”
Interestingly, Rodriguez wondered about the passion of fans in Arizona in the story.
“We always thought, at Arizona, [in general] they like football, but I don’t know if they really love it,” Rodriguez said. “So, once [the players] leave our football building, they’re not hearing people talk about football a lot. We had to make it really, really important moreso than maybe we really should have. We wanted them to feel how important it was to our players.
“When you come out here to the Southeast, you don’t have to worry about that.”
More:Pac-12 expansion, realignment: Arizona State AD addresses speculation amid media deal saga
Right now, Pac-12 fans are worried about the conference’s uncertain future amid college conference expansion and realignment speculation.
They aren’t the only ones, as CBS Sports pointed out in their story about former Pac-12 coaches being concerned about the conference’s future.
This quote to CBS Sports from former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti was very telling:
“I have that impending sense of doom,” Bellotti told Dodd. “All my life, I’ve always been a West Coast guy. … I can just see [the Pac-12] falling apart.”
More:Pac-12 expansion prediction: San Diego State, SMU, Mountain West makeover for conference
Others also painted a bleak picture for the conference amid its media rights saga:
KSL: Pac-12 could be ripe for the picking even with new media deal
Patrick Kinahan wrote: “Even then, with media rights partners on board, the new Pac-12 still could be ripe for the picking. Down the line, the Big Ten, again, could come calling once the conference finds a way for networks to pony up more money to add schools out west in addition to USC and UCLA. Any Big Ten or Big 12 expansion that raids the Pac-12 would result in serious trouble for any schools not included. The collateral damage could lead to the demise of the Pac-12, notwithstanding the conference’s recent statement saying the remaining 10 members were committed to stay together.”
Outkick: Pac-12’s media rights situation spiraling downward
David Hookstead wrote: “It was reported George Kliavkoff was given until mid-April to get this situation figured out. Well, that’s roughly six weeks away, and the Pac-12 seems to be in panic mode. It’s almost as if the ship is going down, and the conference is scrambling from potential partner to potential partner to see if there’s a lifeboat anywhere. Right now, it appears the boats have been launched and the Pac-12 isn’t on one.”
More:Pac-12 expansion, realignment speculation: Media rights situation bleak for conference?
Michael McCarthy wrote: “The silk gloves have come off in media rights negotiations between Amazon and the Pac-12 Conference. And here comes the steel fist that’s helped make Amazon the country’s dominant e-commerce company. Amazon is ‘playing hardball’ in media rights negotiations with the hapless college conference, sources told Front Office Sports. The tech giant is holding out for the best game matchups and best financial terms, sources said. … That leaves Amazon, Fox Sports, NBC, and ESPN among a dwindling list of suitors for the Conference of Champions. The problem for the Pac-12 is most of the big media entities have inked football deals in recent years. Or they’re hoarding cash as the U.S. advertising market weakens and an economic recession looms.”
Deseret News: Pac-12 risks further mockery if it doesn’t secure new media rights deal soon
Dick Harmon wrote: “All teasing aside, the longer the Pac-12 media rights negotiation drags along — it’s been going on since early fall — the more the traditionally proud brand, the Conference of Champions, will take hits.”
More:Big 12 expansion, realignment speculation: Conference ‘prepared’ to add Pac-12 teams
Reach Jeremy Cluff at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.
Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.