The TV deals did screw them but I think their biggest obstacle is that they boxed themselves in geographically, which lead to the shitty TV deals. This is why the Big Ten got big, they expanded past their Midwest roots. It started with PSU and then added Rutgers & Maryland for an east coast presence and now they are headed west. This makes the Big Ten attractive to TV as they cover every US time zone except Mountain.I've wondered about this, too. The last two times there was major expansion, TX and OU to SEC and MD and Rutgers to B1G, the Pac 12 just sat there and said they wouldn't be expanding at this time. Well they waited too long.
For one thing, why didn't the Pac 12 ever get on DirecTV? When they recently got their new Commissioner DirecTV was ready for them, had a channel number set aside and the terms were such DirecTV would agree. How much $$ did that leave on the table.
I just was listening to the radio over the weekend and they were talking about how the Pac 12 schools were haivng meetings on how to share conference revenue. It sounded like Merton Hanks, an associate commissioner or something, was leading the project. USC and UCLA were both saying they needed to be making more revenue from their local media rights. The rest of the schools weren't in agreement. They mentioned that UCLA is currently carrying a $30M athletic department deficit and pointed out that Northwestern is or soon will be getting $80M/yr from broadcast rights. Hearing this it isn't hard to understand why the LA schools started looking at their options.