As if he had planned it this way, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren cut himself off mid-sentence. Indiana coach Tom Allen, 50 yards away, talks about expansion on set with the Big Ten Network. You notice the on-screen graphics on your TV and turn up the volume.
“We had meetings and as soon as the announcement was made, we started reaching out to young men in that part of the country because we understood what that meant,” Allen said on television. “It’s a little tough to sell from there all the way to the Midwest, but we’re going to play games there for now.”
Warren quipped that Allen removed the words from his mouth before continuing.
I didn’t know he would say such a thing. This is live,” says Warren. “That’s why they say you need money to keep going. I always put money last, but if you do the right things for the right reasons at the right time and if you build it, other things So Tom Allen of Bloomington, Indiana can go to someone’s house in Southern California and say he can go there to recruit.
Warren may put money last, but many others don’t. And the $1.24 billion annual price tag for the Big Ten’s new media rights deal offers quite the sticker shock. In any case, the Commissioner has been feeling himself recently after pulling off college sports’ latest business coup.
Collegiate athletics has had new blood in its leadership for as long as anyone can remember, but the hiring of someone considered an outsider always faces a great deal of skepticism and a great deal of scrutiny. Warren was the first in a new wave of leaders when he took office in June 2019 after serving as an executive for the Minnesota Vikings.
Since his hire, former MGM executive George Kurifkov has been selected to run Pac-12 in 2021, while former Roc Nation CEO Brett Yormark took the reins of the Big 12 on Aug. 1. But thanks to Warren, USC, and UCLA, it’s clear we now have Power 2, and there’s no question which new commissioner is in a strong position.
If you were reading this a year ago, you might be surprised by the positive shift in Warren’s reputation. Eight months after the commissioner started the Big Ten, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Among the myriad things the virus was unkind to was Warren’s initial recognition as the conference leader. From the beginning, Warren was not given a chance by some of the league’s fanbase, many in the media, and even some administrators.
As the entirety of college football grappled with whether or not it would play in 2020, there were Big Ten communication concerns and public squabbles between member schools. The Big Ten have made the decision to cancel the fall sports season and then reverse it.This was radically different and much louder than the Big 12, SEC, and ACC experiences that weren’t canceled. sports illustrated He even received death threats. There was organizational turmoil in the league’s offices as Warren replaced college football veteran Jim Delaney and incorporated the mom-and-pop portion of the operation. Sportico report. Fit and initiation were based on organization and reputation.
“You can’t do these tasks effectively if you’re living in fear,” Warren says. “What I appreciate is that sometimes you have to go get the flag, and if it doesn’t work out, a lot of things are at stake. That’s what I appreciate. Failure. A lot of people never do it because they don’t want to.”
Fast forward as the 2022 college football season approaches. Warren’s reputation looks wildly different after USC and UCLA fell on his lap. Yes, the two programs have reached out to leagues that are willing to accept them. Knowing that he was going to be very enthusiastic, he secretly helped coordinate the movement and blinded the rest of the sport. water.
This is, of course, a question of money, whether Warren is or not, in the ever-increasing specialization of college sports. USC and UCLA have calculated that the Big Ten media rights deal presents greater opportunities now and in the long term than the uncertain Pac-12 media rights situation negotiated in the free market in early August. did. The latter, from all we know about the Los Angeles brand, could put them both at a disadvantage in the league’s upcoming negotiations, but probably not at the dire Pac-12 network level. Their departure may have been as much a vote of no confidence in Kryavkov and Pac-12 as it was a vote of confidence in Warren.
Yet Warren was the driving force behind an already massive portion of the Big Ten media rights deals that were made and shattered before the newcomers entered the fray. This includes Fox keeping its top-of-the-line gaming package and increasing its stake in the Big Ten to 61%. The first figure tied to the deal was a staggering $1 billion he said, with one Big Ten source saying the multi-partner deal is “[was] nothing without [Warren]When USC and UCLA join in 2024, the deal will pay about $78 million per member per year, cementing the Big Ten as by far the wealthiest league in college sports. I am building
Fox and Big Ten have become useful companions. All of this is happening as Fox continues to work on his ESPN and college sports TV coverage trajectory from his SEC. Meetings will be scheduled as needed, with Saturday he returning to major viewership deals with Fox’s Big Noon and USC and UCLA for the second-tier football games now owned by CBS and NBC. Sweeten the window. It was another shoe that many in the industry had been waiting to drop all spring and summer, with weeks of secret negotiations between LA schools and the Big Ten. Later, Kliavkoff appears to have been outwitted as the Pac-12 school was caught with pants wrapped around his ankles.
Warren was one of three voices who opposed the expansion of the college football playoffs in February. The other he is one, the ACC, pressed a pause on expansion because its commissioner, Jim Phillips, wanted the restructuring of collegiate athletics to take place before the restructuring of the CFP. rice field. Well, be careful what you want. Add Phillips to the list of other league bosses scrambling in the wake of the earthquake upheaval. and instead ran out of clock to make a fresh start with a new pact. He believes the start will include multiple media partners.: Fox). CFP’s current contract expires after the 2025 season.
“This isn’t 10 years of turmoil, it’s two or three more years,” says Warren. “Because I think I’ll do it once. [the commissioners] We can legally look at each other and say, “OK, we can sign a 10-year contract.” But can you do it now? If I ask you, there is no way you can do that. I couldn’t have stepped in front of a prime minister or a president and promised his 10-year college football playoffs with these numbers in this structure. I don’t know who is where. “
A commissioner’s job is never going to be popular. The only person in professional sports that people seem to have a little affinity for is NBA’s Adam Silver, but Warren will come out of this win for his conference. Do it your way,” Goodell advised. Just as Goodell was never fully admired at Foxboro, thanks to Deflategate, and his booing at the draft is one of the NFL’s annual spring traditions, Warren has been criticized for Lincoln. You may still get sidelong glances as you head towards it.
But Goodell still has a job. Because the NFL prints money through broadcast deals that only make the behemoth bigger. Goodell isn’t the reason the league continues to boom, but he continues to steer the ship.Thanks to USC and UCLA, the Big 10 have a shot across the bow in the rest of college sports, Anyone in a position of power at the conference who has bad blood against Warren will not complain about the checks that are coming soon. clear. Indiana coach Allen certainly doesn’t.
More college coverage:
• Kevin Warren ready to lead the Big Ten into the future
• How the Big Ten and ESPN split will affect everyone else
• SI preseason top 25 ranking