USC athletic director Pat Haden spoke to the media Thursday about the alignment of the Pac-12, announced Thursday by conference commissioner Larry Scott.
Here's what Haden had to say:
On how important it was to have the 5-2-2 alignment in order for USC to play Cal and Stanford each year:
"You tell me. You've watched these games over the years. When you think about the history of the games, we’ve played Cal for nearly 100 years, Stanford for 80-some. They’ve been historic games, great memories, memorable moments in those games. At the end of the day, the presidents did a great job because they were able to preserve the rivalries -- not only from USC’s perspective, as I understand it, but Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State and all those schools. It was a unanimous vote and it preserved their rivalries as well. From USC's perspective, I’ve always felt and said, that we needed to play UCLA, Cal and Stanford."
On what changed from the original reported 7-5 vote by the conference athletic directors:
"I don't know. I obviously wasn't part of those deliberations and I just got out of a meeting and saw the release, so I don't know...The ADs weren't unanimous, and we talked among ourselves. I advised our president what we wanted, from USC's perspective -- that's my job, right? -- and what we wanted to have was to have the California schools all play each other every year and also to make sure that we wanted one trip to the north a year, not two. We didn't want two Weekenders, we wanted one. There's all kinds of complexities to the schedule...I don't know what kind of logorithms they're using but they're using something to get the new schedule out, which -- I'm led to believe -- will be out in the not-too-distant future. It's gonna have to be."
Did negotiations ever get contentious on your end of it?
“No. There were reports I was angry, or disappointed, or unhappy. I was never unhappy. First of all, we’re just one vote. It’s a democracy. People have different points of view. I knew our fans at the end of the day would be disappointed if we weren’t able to play those schools. I’m not sure if they’re interested in the game itself, but they love going to San Francisco, love going to Chinatown and taking cable cars and all that stuff. They’ll remain happy. I’ve grown up here. I know how important it is to play Cal. I talked to our team about that last week. You guys think UCLA and Notre Dame are our rivals, and they are important. We’ve played Cal more than anybody. This is really a rivalry game. And I think most of our fans feel that way.
On having the championship game at a home-team site as compared to a neutral site:
“I love it. It’s going to be a great scene. I just hope we’re not playing Oregon there. The thing about that is, I give Larry Scott a lot of credit. I think he’s thought outside the box in a lot of ways. To have a game where you deserve to host it, you’ve really won the right to host the championship game, and the fact that you’re guaranteed basically a sellout crowd, wild scene … it’s going to be terrific.
On where USC stands with the possibility of playing in a conference championship game with the NCAA sanctions:
"I don't know. We don't even have a set date yet for an appeal. I've said before, I think we have a good appeal but I have no idea whether we can win."
On revenue eventually being shared equally:
“That’s fine with us because we think the pie will get bigger with a Pac-12 and a championship game. The pie will get bigger. Everybody’s going to benefit.”
On how quickly the Pac-12 can get to the $170 million threshold that has been reported to be the number at which USC stops getting a bigger piece of the pie:
"Yeah, I think $170 million parallels the Big Ten contract. I think that's where they get that number from...I’m not sure what the market’s like. I know it’s been a tough television market recently. I believe there’s some new folks who want to broadcast college football games. If that is true, it’s a good time to have a product to sell. How realistic is that, I can’t really tell you. I hope it’s right away.”