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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 9, 2008 12:56 PM

Pac-10 commish Hansen to retire in 2009

Posted by Bob Condotta

News is breaking this afternoon that Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen will retire on July 1, 2009. Here's another report, with quotes from Hansen, from The New York Times. UPDATE --- And here is the official release from the Pac-10.

This is no real surprise as Hansen recently turned 70 and rumors of his imminent retirement have been rampant.

Hansen has been commissioner of the Pac-10 since 1983 and has been a sometimes-controversial figure. Bud Withers of our staff profiled Hansen and the differing thoughts on his tenure in this story last August.

Hansen's detractors often said he was too old-school, too willing to keep to the status quo and unwilling to get creative when it came to things like bowl games and TV contracts. Basketball coaches, in particular, have often grumbled about not having greater exposure on ESPN.

I always gave Hansen some benefit of the doubt on some of these issues since I think the reasons he gives for why the Pac-10 has some inherent challenges in these areas make sense --- most notably, the time and geographical differences that will always make conferences back east more attractive to ESPN. I'm in the minority who doesn't think the FSN deal is so bad, especially for basketball --- you really think ESPN will televise four Pac-10 basketball games back-to-back-to-back-to-back on a Saturday afternoon? It hasn't seemed to hurt the conference become known as one of the strongest in the nation the last few years.

And to Hansen's credit, the conference has tried to be more flexible in recent years when it has come to TV games -- playing more football games on non-Saturdays --- and now has an expanded football presence on ESPN.

Regarding bowl games, I've never really seen anyone give evidence to refute what Hansen has always said was the main issue there --- that since many conference teams don't travel that well (is that you, UCLA?) bowls in the south and east would rather have tie-ins with conferences in those areas. Why would a bowl in Florida really want the No. 5 Pac-10 team as opposed to the No. 5 SEC team?

I also think it's sometimes not realized the power the conference's presidents have on some of these issues. It's not as simple on some of this stuff as Hansen snapping his fingers and getting something changed if the presidents don't want to go along.

Nationally, some view Hansen as an impediment to a college football playoff and will surely be glad he's gone (though again, I think Hansen is often speaking for what the conference's presidents want, and that isn't going to change no matter who is commissioner).

I also always found it a little amusing when people would protest that Hansen is anti-UW since he is a Washington graduate.

That said, I do think there are some things the conference could do to promote itself a little better. And who knows? Maybe a fresh approach will result in some changes in the TV and bowl contracts that the critics will find more pleasing.

And that's the question now --- who will take over for Hansen? I have no idea, though one thing I do know is that there won't be any shortage of good candidates as this will be one of the coveted jobs in college athletics.

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