Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott earned more than $3 million last year, making him the highest-paid "sitting college commissioner," according to the Wall Street Journal.
Scott earned every cent of that paycheck.
His innovative and forward-thinking ideas launched the Pac-12 Networks. This is the "first time a U.S. collegiate conference or any other programmer has launched a collection of networks across a variety of platforms, rather than a sole network," according to the Pac-12's official website. More:
On the field, the Pac-12 rises above the rest, upholding its tradition as the “Conference of Champions” ®, claiming an incredible 121 NCAA team titles since 1999-2000, including nine in 2011-12.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Pac-12 had the most NCAA titles or tied for the most of any conference in the country, winning at least six every year since 2000-01. No other conference has won double-digit NCAA crowns in a single year, the Pac-12 doing so six times, including a record 14 in 1996-97.
Despite these accomplishments, the Pac-12 still manages to be viewed by many as a second-tier league. The Wall Street Journal's Rachel Bachman's article highlights this perception:
In his four years as commissioner, Larry Scott has transformed the sleepy Pacific-10 Conference into the big-business Pac-12, expanding the conference and quadrupling its annual television-rights revenue.
No other conference comes close to the amount of team national championships the Pac-12 has won. The same was true under the league's former Pac-10 name. Yet it was called sleepy.
There is no doubt the SEC has dominated football the last seven years. That league is wide awake and fired up. But there is also no doubt that college football is cyclical and another conference will dethrone it. Until that happens, we can all sit back and marvel at the awe of SEC football.
A conference commissioner oversees all of its collegiate sports, and perhaps that's why the Pac-12 doesn't muster much respect east of the Mississippi River. College football is king in the South, and the Pac-12 hasn't crowned a football champion since USC's 2004 AP and BCS-vacated titles. The Pac-12's reputation is being judged solely on college football, it would appear.
Its recent football championships and attendance figures all make up the Pac-12's perception, and to the average fan in the South, the Pac-12 doesn't impress. The Pac-12 isn't the SEC, and they should never be compared.
Most SEC schools are located in small cities where residents have lived their whole lives. The fandom is entrenched, the camaraderie deep. Birmingham is the most populated city in Alabama with a little over 200,000 residents.
USC and UCLA are located in the Greater Los Angeles area, which has a population of approximately 18 million—it's one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. The sports interests in L.A. are varied and represent every region in the U.S. due to its melting pot demographics.
Broad comparisons are inevitable but not always warranted. There is one comparison that should be noted, and it has Larry Scott's fingerprints all over it.
The Pac-12 is raking in the dough from its media rights deals. From the Sports Business Daily:
The Pac-12’s deal at an average of $250 million per year is for a 12-team league. The Big 12 deal averages $200 million across 10 schools.
The Sporting News notes that "ESPN’s current arrangement with the SEC—negotiated in 2008—pays an average of $150 million a year over 15 years." More:
When the SEC did this deal with CBS and ESPN four years ago, it was considered a groundbreaking agreement. The deals reset the entire collegiate media rights market, at least until the Pac-12 negotiated its massive deal with ESPN and Fox last year.
Well done, commissioner Scott. You deserve your paycheck.