Utah won't immediately see a windfall

So, I was reading back through the transcript of Thursday’s Utah news conference with the Pac-10 and I found an interesting little tidbit that I didn’t know. According to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, the Utes do not become full member of the Pac-10 (or Pac-12) until after three years of membership.

Here’s the quote:

“Our conference has a long-standing policy of equal revenue sharing with some exceptions for football television revenue,” Scott said. “We intend to keep that concept in place. There may be some changes as things evolve. The principles will stay in place. The arrangement worked out is that Utah will become a full member of the conference over a period of three years in regards to revenue sharing.”

The next question pertained to Colorado’s revenue share and Scott said the Buffs will be full members in 2012 and there will be discussions about full member benefits if the Buffs join in 2011.

So basically, Utah will only get a portion of the revenue sharing for the first three years because it's coming from a nonautomatic qualifying conference and it has to prove itself.

You can look at this 100 different ways. Some will say that the Utes need to earn their automatic qualifying status and some will say that their track record proves that they already have. I think this is a safeguard for the Pac-10 to make sure they made the right choice. It’s almost like have provisional status before joining the FBS from the FCS.

To be clear, there’s no reason for the Utah faithful to panic. The Utes still get a full share of revenue from the Mountain West after the 2010-11 school year. And after that, even a portion of the Pac-10’s revenue will be an improvement. Pac-10 schools currently receive between $8 million and $10 million in TV revenue, and Scott is about to renegotiate the television deal.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Pac-10 stands to gain $45-50 million in annual rights fees from the “Pac-12 Network,” at least $90-100 million annually from ESPN or Fox and perhaps another $10 million for a conference championship game. Even a modest slice of that pie would be more than the $5.38 million in TV, bowl and basketball tournament revenue Utah reported after the 2008-09 school year.

So, yes, the Utes will have to earn their keep initially, the ultimate payoff is worth a few provisional years.