Paul Finebaum criticizes Pac-12’s media rights negotiation, San Diego State situation

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison06/20/23


ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum was critical of the Pac-12 conference over its media rights negotiation and how it’s handling San Diego State during an appearance on McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning.

The Pac-12 has been actively searching for a new media deal while also looking to replace USC and UCLA as they move to the Big Ten. One school that appears to be on the conference’s radar is San Diego State which gave written notice it will leave the Mountain West but also asked for an extension of one month, presumably due to delays with the Pac-12. However, the Mountain West has made it clear no extension is coming.

“Badly,” Paul Finebaum said of how things will end for the San Diego State and the Pac-12. “I mean, this is a league that continues taking water, and if you’re now almost in July and we’re still waiting for a media rights deal — how long has this been going on? It seems like a year.”

There have been plenty of rumors about the Pac-12 media deal. It’s been reported that streaming is going to be a key component of the deal. It’s also been rumored that the conference’s games could be carried on Ion or the CW. All the while, Pac-12 administrators have long been assuring fans that a deal is coming soon.

“It means that you don’t have anything suitable. I happened to be with the president of the University of Arizona. It was two weeks ago in Washington [D.C.] and he said at the time he felt they were days away from it. Now, he said that in March too, and other people reported that last summer,” Finebaum said.

“So, we know how difficult the television market is right now, I don’t know what they have as far as San Diego State. I’m not sure it makes a whole lot of difference. I know there are certainly some attributes about them joining the Pac-12, but that’s not going to change much in my estimation.”

San Diego State was asking the Mountain West for an extension to help them wait for the Pac-12 media deal and, presumably, an invite to the conference. Without that extension, San Diego State would need to pay $34 million instead of $17 million to leave the conference.

However, as Finebaum pointed out, it’s hard to believe that deal is coming soon when the Pac-12 has been searching for so long that the Big 12 was able to begin looking and find its own deal during the course of that search. Those are poor optics for the league and the Big 12 has made it clear they’re interested in expanding westward.

Paul Finebaum predicts the Pac-12 will collapse

Paul Finebaum clearly has little faith in the Pac-12. He’s so down on the conference that he expects it to collapse by 2026.

“I don’t believe so. I don’t know how it can, Greg [McElroy]. Because it’s — the situation is so fragile right now. The leadership is better than it was. It’s still not very good. And, you know, I think you give the new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, a pass because maybe a year, a year and a half ago, his predecessor literally ran this thing into the ground. But he’s had enough time and I think, so far, you have to give him a failing grade,” Finebaum said.

“And ultimately, as much as big conferences don’t really want to expand at the moment, I think they’ll be forced to take the cream of the crop out there, whether it’s the Big Ten going after the northwest schools, whether it’s Colorado or Arizona or somebody else just deciding to go to the Big 12 — I do not believe the Pac-12 can exist.”