The Pac-12, though, has its eyes set on traversing a much vaster body of water on the other side of the world.
Speaking to the imitable Bryan Fischer of the Pac-12 Network, conference commissioner Larry Scott laid out his plans for the future “globalization” the league. Select sports have already traveled or will travel to China in the future, with Scott noting that, given the conference’s positioning on the West Coast, “it’s only natural for us to look West with so many of our schools already doing it.”
Based on the sports tremendous popularity in the country, basketball will serve as a linchpin for the Pac-12 as it looks to penetrate that vast, collegiately untapped market. While football is a different animal entirely than hoops — primarily larger traveling parties equaling much greater travel costs — taking a game overseas into China is something the conference has studied and will continue to study.
In fact, it seems more a matter of when and not if.
“I think we will have football [in China] at some stage,” Scott told Fischer. “I think it’s more of a longer-term thing. I’ve done due diligence on it during my trips… It’s very expensive to bring teams over there and I just don’t know if it’s practically very viable right now. The NFL has been over there for years trying to develop fans and end up doing a lot of grassroots activity. It’s just hard when it’s not an endemic sport and that’s the beauty of basketball and the Olympic sports.”
Whether or not a college football game in China happens in five years or a couple of decades, it appears the conference in general and the commissioner specifically will leave no stone unturned in its quest to expand the league’s brand to a potential audience of billions.
Oh, and as an aside: Scott noted in his interview with Fischer that the acronym for the Chinese equivalent of the NCAA is the “FUSC.” Now pardon me while I go take care of the irony dripping off of my computer screen…