USC athletic director Mike Bohn clarifies stance on Trojans' future in the Pac-12 conference

USC athletic director Mike Bohn attempted to clarify Thursday his assertion that "everything is on the table" in terms of the Trojans' future conference affiliation.

"It was not malicious," Bohn told CBS Sports referring to comments made on a USC 247Sports podcast

When asked by USCFootball.com's Ryan Abraham this week if he would consider football going independent or joining another conference, Bohn said, "I think right now, Larry would agree with this, everything is on the table."

Larry Scott is the Pac-12 commissioner.

"The answer is no," Bohn said when contacted by CBS Sports on Thursday. "Why would we do that? We've got 21 sports here. You know the drill. There would be no way for us to do that.

"Now, that being said, if the unexpected happened and NBC said, 'Hey we want to partner you guys with Notre Dame' … then that's different.'"

USC is largely regarded as the Pac-12's flagship football program. However, coach Clay Helton (40-22) is under fire heading into his fifth full season.  It's fair to say fans and donors remain frustrated with one conference title for the Trojans since 2008.

Even with that recent history, USC would be desirable to any conference and is one of the few schools that could be competitive nationally as an independent.

The Pac-12 last expanded from 10 to 12 schools in 2012. That after Scott failed to raid the Big 12 of six schools and expand to 16. The more subdued expansion was still the foundation for the launch of a conference network that led to record revenues.

"It was bonanza at the time," Bohn said.

However, over the years, the network has struggled while other Power Five leagues have surpassed the Pac-12 in revenue.

The latest estimates have the league at least $17 million per school annually behind the Big Ten, the revenue leader among conferences. At $33 million per school, the Pac-12 is fifth in the Power Five. 

"There's no talk of [leaving], but guess what? If it was on the table, we would certainly explore that," Bohn said. "But I've got to be careful. The league is really tender.

"The context that I was talking about was whether it was league TV stuff, creative pieces with any other type of deliverable, it has to be on the table. Guess what? If that helps [the league] understand the importance of what our campuses are going through, so be it."

Bohn later added, "I don't want to walk it back, but hopefully that gives it a little more context."

The Pac-12's current tier I rights fees agreement with ESPN and Fox expires in 2024. That would be two years after USC's 100th anniversary of joining what was then known as the Pacific Coast Conference in 1922.

Bohn is his fourth month on the job after arriving from Cincinnati in November 2019 to replace Lynn Swann. He is a 36-year veteran of athletic administration. Bohn was Colorado's AD when the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 in 2012.

"We're optimistic about the future. We're aligned with the league," Bohn said. "I know that Larry and our group of presidents are committed that we look under every rock and every possibility to remain our competitive stature." 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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