The Pac-12's image has taken a beating over the past several months and just endured another uppercut Wednesday. Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group penned a story detailing the ever-shrinking reach of the Pac-12 Networks.

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So a pair of vandals are staring at a wall, each holding a can of spray paint. Nobody knows their identities, but their graffiti has earned them quite a reputation over the past few months.

But this time they’re feeling particularly destructive, and want to up the ante.

“How big of a stain should we put on this thing?” asks one of the vandals.

Replies the other: “Big. Like, Pac-12 big.”

The Pac-12’s image has taken a beating over the past several months and just endured another uppercut Wednesday. Jon Wilner of the Bay Area News Group penned a story detailing the ever-shrinking reach of the Pac-12 Networks.

The upshot of the piece was that conference schools have received an average payout of $1.639 million over the past five years, and $2.6 million this year. That’s a fraction of the $3 million-$10 million annual range Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told athletic directors they’d see in a presentation several years back, according to one of Wilner’s sources. Former Washington State and Oregon athletic director Bill Moos, now at Nebraska, was quoted in the story.

“We were all giddy,” Moos told Wilner. “And we wouldn’t have been giddy over $2 million (per year).

This report emerged about two and a half months after a piercing series by John Canzano of the Oregonian, which not only highlighted how far the Pac-12 lagged behind other Power 5 conferences financially, but how much more it spends. The series also painted an unflattering portrait of Scott, whose annual $4.8 million salary is significantly more than that of any other commissioner in the NCAA.

Perhaps the most embarrassing nugget came via a video of the commish addressing his staff to announce his contract extension. Staff members thought he was going to announce that the Pac-12 had reached a deal with DirectTV.

Gaffes such as that are generally what you’d expect from Michael Scott, not Larry. And this comes on top of the replay disaster in September, when Pac-12 general counsel Woodie Dixon — who has no officiating training — called into the conference’s Centralized Instant-Replay Command center to reverse a targeting call during the Washington State-USC game.

Obviously, journalists aren’t privy to all the day-to-day operations and closed-door meetings. We rely on sources, some of which may be disgruntled.

But based on all the interviews and data that have emerged over the past few months, the Pac-12’s optics will make you feel like you have a scratched retina.

For the second consecutive year, the conference was left out of the College Football Playoff, and only one team (Washington) played in a prestigious bowl game last season. All three Pac-12 representatives lost in their first game of the NCAA Tournament last year, and none is in the AP Top 25 poll this season.

According to 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings, just  three of the top 20 football recruiting classes for 2019 hail from the Pac-12 (Oregon No. 7, Washington No. 17, USC No. 20). The glimmer of hope? The Pac-12 comprises three of the top 10 basketball recruiting classes, including Arizona at No. 1.

Some will argue that the college-sports culture on the west coast doesn’t compare with that of other regions, and there is some truth to that. Whether it’s in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, the Bay Area, Seattle or Phoenix, many of the Pac-12 football or basketball teams draw inherently less interest than their professional counterparts. Still, competing for national titles always seemed like a possibility in this conference. That’s becoming less and less the case.

There’s little dispute that Scott has been a human pinata lately. And though he was praised for the $3 billion television deal he negotiated in 2011, the results between the lines haven’t met expectations.

The play on the field has opened itself up to plenty of criticism. Seems the actions off it are open to even more.