Hotline mailbag: Odds of a UCLA reversal, Oregon’s contract calculation, Arizona’s hoops consideration, ASU’s fate and more

The Hotline mailbag is published every Friday. Send questions to or hit me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline.

Please note: Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity.

In the unlikely scenario that the University of California Board of Regents forces UCLA to stay in the conference, do you think the top choice for expansion remains San Diego State? Or is the Southern California location no longer needed for the Pac-12? — @JohnBanister3

What is the percentage likelihood of UCLA not going to the Big Ten? — @SoCal_Pony

Let’s address the second question first, because it has been a hot topic since Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said the Bruins would be better off financially in the Pac-12 than moving to the Big Ten. (That math only starts to work if you make a big assumption, as we laid out on Wednesday.)

The Hotline has always believed the chance of a UCLA reversal, enforced by the regents, is slim. That said, it’s not zero, which makes this an issue worth monitoring.

Much more likely, but still not near 50 percent, is the imposition of a subsidy — a means of UCLA reimbursing Cal for revenue lost because the value of the Pac-12 media contract decreases without a campus in Los Angeles.

Our view:

Chance of a UCLA reversal: 5-to-10 percent.
Chance of a subsidy for Cal: 20-to-25 percent.

The most likely scenario is the UC regents discuss and bluster for a few more months, and the matter fizzles.

We should note that immediately after California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the move (in July), one of the Hotline’s most trusted sources speculated that the pushback was a leverage play:

The regents would attempt to hold UCLA’s membership hostage in order to force the Big Ten to take Cal (and Stanford), as well. And we haven’t dismissed that as a possibility, not for a second.

(Imagine how that ploy might be received in Columbus or Ann Arbor?)

The whole situation would have been much cleaner if the Big Ten had taken Stanford and USC — there would have been limited political blowback with two private schools.

But Fox was calling the shots with Big Ten expansion. After all, the league’s media rights are owned by the Big Ten Network, and Fox owns 61 percent of the Big Ten Network.

Our entrenched belief is that Fox wanted to corner the Los Angeles market — to prevent ESPN from grabbing a slice — and therefore arranged for UCLA, not Stanford, to become USC’s partner.

Think about it: UCLA football doesn’t move the needle, and Fox extracted the value of the L.A. market with USC. Why else would it take UCLA, other than to make sure ESPN couldn’t retain a foothold? (UCLA basketball, while additive for programming needs, would have been a secondary consideration.)

Clearly, the media component — what best suited Fox’s needs — was the impetus for the decision.

In the (highly unlikely) event that UCLA remains in the Pac-12, the dynamics change dramatically.

We addressed this several weeks ago, but it’s worth another …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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