Sunday Morning Missile – Spreading the Wealth Edition

Goooood MORNING COUG NATION!  Your old pal Victory Bell here, checking in on what’s up in and around the world of Coug.

So I thought that picture with the “Reaganomics” on it was funny (yes, right-wingers, I’m sure it will make you angry but here’s some advice – LIGHTEN UP or BEAT IT!).  But not so much that the US economy is slumping, with what, now 1-in-2 Americans either below the poverty line or squarely in the low income bracket?  And with the whole occupy this, and occupy that, well…..the whole topic is just a bit heavy for Victory Bell’s tastes.  After all, I’m just a bell that is waiting to be rung after every Coug football win, or after graduation ceremonies or something.  Remember??

Anyway, no, instead Victory Bell got to thinking about the new Pac-12 deal and the idea of spreading the wealth.  And I, for one, am happy that we are going to experience the trickle-down!  You’ve all heard it, right?  The rising tide floats all boats theories, aka the trickle down, you name the cliche of choice, but it’s all the same idea.  Take a huge pot of cash – like, $3 BILLION dollars – and divvy it up amongst the member institutions, and let Larry Scott and company MAKE IT RAIN!

Obviously the new Pac-12 deal was a gigantic win for good ol’ WSU.   I mean we have stepped into a new world with the projected $15 – $20 million more in TV revenue on a yearly basis, all coming in to Pullman.  Every game is on TV starting next fall, which is cool, and the exposure is something that is now akin to the rest of the NCAA football superpowers.  The $80+ million dollar renovation phase of Martin Stadium is underway, and by the home opener in September it will be complete with the new press box, luxury suites/seating, the whole works, and another phase planned for the scoreboard side end zone in the future. 

It’s a great time to be in the Pac-12.

Most of all however, the influx of cash made it possible for Coug Nation to like FLIP OUT over a new coach, and there is very little doubt that without it, we wouldn’t have seen the new season ticket purchases (over 1,000 and counting) and athletic fund donations (over $500K and climbing) to be in the situation we are in now…..

I thought Art Thiel hit an absolute home run with his assessment of the situation the day after Leach pressed the flesh and met the Seattle media a few weeks ago.  But the biggest thing that stood out is that it wasn’t so much that Leach was dying to coach in Pullman.  Maybe he is/was, and that this is the dream scenario for coach and fans alike.  It’s a great read from a long time Seattle scribe who is now free of the P-I’s shackles.  Thiel takes an honest look at the landscape, and the details of what made this whole Mike Leach thing possible. 

But what was interesting was Leach’s take on the Pac-12 as a conference, and Larry Scott as the commish:

“The conference was a factor, no doubt,” he said to a small group of reporters after he charmed a few hundred Cougars fans in a hotel ballroom with gracious opening remarks and witty repartee with his media questioners. “The conference is stable, and pro-active about making themselves stable. I haven’t met (Commissioner) Larry Scott, but I had him on (his Sirius satellite radio show) and I couldn’t have been more impressed.

Some conferences are embroiled in slaying their own dragons. The Pac-12 made a move to solidify itself and currently has the most lucrative TV deal in the country. I’d love to say I knew that was going to happen. That’s not fair to say. A bunch of the cards were already turned over. It was a little more obvious than expert. Know what I mean?”

Now just think about that for a moment.  Does ANYONE think those same thoughts were expressed about Tom Hansen, the former commish who basically did nothing but allow the USC’s of the world to maintain their grip on the conference TV money by changing, oh, NOTHING??  I mean what did the Pac-10 do under Hansen, aside from finally caving in and having a Pac-10 basketball tournament? 

Now think about the conference Leach had been a part of in his ten years as head coach, and think about the epic mess that was the Big 12 a year ago.  You had Colorado and Nebraska say enough is enough, and they bolted for the Pac-12/Big 10.  Now two more are taking off for the SEC in Mizzou and Texas A & M next year.  The Big 12’s answer for losing those four schools?  West Virginia and TCU. 

Oh. 

So you still have Texas as the ultra “top 1%” in that neck of the woods, and everyone kneels before their awesomeness.  Sure, a school will rise up and win the conference here and there, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are competitive as hell on the gridiron.  And Texas isn’t at the elite level it once was on the football field these last two post-Colt-McCoy seasons.  But there is no question Burnt Orange rules the Big 12, and everyone else is left in the dust when it comes to the economics of the situation.  For in the Big 12, there is no equal sharing of the TV dough.  And while they do share some of it, obviously, it’s nothing compared to the Pac-12.  The rich stay richer, while the rest of them, well, they hire this guy……

I don’t know about you, but I thought the whole situations at Kansas and WSU were striking, to say the least.  Here you had the Jayhawks, who hired an up-and-comer a couple of years ago in Turner Gill, a guy successful at a lower level school in Buffalo.  But just two years into a lucrative contract, they fire him after the Jayhawks suck at incredible levels the last two years (5-19, including 10 straight losses to end 2011 and the 120th-rated scoring “defense” in the country). 

Anyway, Kansas was rumored to have Mike Leach as their #1 guy, and he was clearly the choice of the message board/blog types.  Bring in Leach’s high flying attack, let him get some revenge against his former Big-12 opponents, and with the newer football facilties in Lawrence, who knows what Leach could accomplish!  But clearly, the top choice by many once the Jayhawks started trolling for a new head man.  MAYBE Larry Fedora was #2, but Leach was at the top.

Meanwhile, WSU fires Paul Wulff after four years and a 9-40 record, and you already know all the details of how we got here.  But Bill Moos decides to take a swing at Mike Leach, instead of dipping down into the lower levels of the unknown/unproven quantities at the BCS level. 

So, here you had Kansas and WSU pretty much angling for Leach.  While it has never been acknowledged that Leach ever spoke to Kansas, the rumors of interest were swirling for quite a while.  And if anything, the media sure did want him.  Yet somehow Moos plucks Leach from Key West and into Pullman, basically flying directly over Lawrence KS in the process!? And Charlie Weis gets hired in Lawrence, which, uh, hasn’t really been embraced by the local scribes.

We can pat ourselves on the back all we want.  We can say that there is a specialness about Pullman that others “don’t get”.  We can talk up our mini run of sucess from the Rose Bowls under Mike Price and the three straight top ten AP poll finishes from ’01-’03.  But the bottom line is this – without the Pac-12 and Larry Scott, is there any chance that Mike Leach would be the head coach in Pullman right now??  I think if we honestly consider the reality of it all, we know the truth.

So, with that Victory Bell says THANK YOU LARRY SCOTT and thank you Pac-12 TV!  We couldn’t have done it without you!

That’s it for today kids.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and happy holidays!

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