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USC athletic director Mike Bohn has a history of punching first in realignment fights



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It was maybe probably the most unsure stretch within the historical past of school athletics. Chaos reigned amid rumors of realignment. A blue-blood program was threatening to desert its convention over TV cash. One other convention commissioner was brazenly courting that blue blood with the intent of constructing a brilliant convention. At any second it appeared one domino might fall, irreparably altering the panorama.

The unrest left Mike Bohn in a precarious place. As Colorado’s athletic director in June 2010, on the top of convention realignment drama, Bohn was cautious of the place the Massive 12 was headed. Texas, decided to launch its personal community, was flirting with the potential for leaving for the Pac-12. The Pac-12 was flirting again. Rumors flew about Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech bolting alongside the Longhorns, a transfer that might assuredly mark the tip of the convention.

“Had the Massive 12 fallen aside, Colorado would’ve been screwed,” says Chuck Neinas, Bohn’s mentor and a former interim commissioner with the Massive 12. “They might’ve been within the Mountain West.”

Bohn didn’t wish to danger Colorado being left behind. So he made the primary transfer, spearheading efforts for Colorado to affix what would quickly turn into the Pac-12. One in every of his contingencies? That the convention guarantee Colorado was in the identical division as USC and UCLA, which Bohn knew had a critical attain in his state.

On the time, then-Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott thanked Colorado for its “braveness” in taking step one in what appeared then can be a prolonged realignment saga. However Texas in the end determined to face pat, with the convention including solely Colorado and Utah.

Twelve years later, with the convention nonetheless reeling from Scott’s incapacity to land Texas, Bohn would once more take a daring first step, this time serving to lead USC together with UCLA out of the Pac-12, the place they’d been flagship members for greater than a century, and into the Massive Ten, the place a windfall of latest media rights income awaits.

Besides this time, as USC’s athletic director, the transfer might have main implications throughout all of school sports activities. These existential considerations begin with the potential demise of the Pac-12 as a Energy 5 convention because the Massive Ten and SEC emerge as a formidable “Energy Two.”

USC athletic director Mike Bohn at the Coliseum on Nov. 13, 2020.

USC athletic director Mike Bohn on the Coliseum on Nov. 13, 2020.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Instances)

Not that the Pac-12 was in a really perfect place earlier than the exit by USC and UCLA.

“They had been involved concerning the Pac-12, the tv market,” Neinas mentioned. “It will possibly’t examine to what they’re going to get because of going to the Massive Ten. It’s one factor if it was a number of {dollars} extra, however two, 3 times extra, you’ll be able to’t move that up.”

The prospect of including the nation’s second-biggest market to the Massive Ten was positive to command consideration of tv networks.

“I consider that Fox was most likely the matchmaker on this,” Neinas mentioned of the tv community. “This clearly serves to enhance their funding, so to talk, as a result of USC and UCLA and the Los Angeles market carry numerous worth to the Massive Ten bundle. I do know that it’s troublesome for each establishments to depart their long-established historical past within the Pac-12, however sadly, let’s face it, tv is dictating what’s taking place in school athletics.”

Bohn assured that the transfer was “about far more than assets,” however he noticed the handwriting on the wall when Texas and Oklahoma introduced final summer time that they had been leaving the Massive 12 — for actual, this time — for the Southeastern Convention.

“I don’t consider there’s a school administrator within the nation that didn’t acknowledge that clearly there have been two conferences that had been separating themselves from everybody else,” Bohn advised The Instances. “That individual transfer additional emphasised that.”

USC leaders labored to safe a seat on the desk, the place they might assist dictate the place realignment heads from right here.

In previous stops, Bohn didn’t all the time have that luxurious.

When Bohn was the athletic director at Idaho and the Massive West stopped taking part in soccer in 2000, he hoped to usher his college into the Western Athletic Convention. However the Vandals had been handed up and left to affix the far-flung Solar Belt. Just a few years later, Bohn left.

At Cincinnati, Bohn was additionally as soon as rebuffed in realignment talks. The Bearcats had been seen as a high candidate to affix the Massive 12 in 2016, till the convention voted to not increase.

Rejected by the convention he as soon as left, Bohn and his chief of employees, Brandon Sosna, reset their plans for about six years down the road, after they believed main realignment was inevitable amid an inflow of latest media rights offers.

Cincinnati would in the end beat that timeline, accepting an invitation to the Massive 12 final September.

By then, Bohn was off to USC, the place, for the fourth time, he would assist usher a college from one convention to a different.