FootballScoop's Guide to the SEC Network announcement
With all the hype one would come to expect from the Worldwide Leader in Sports and the owner of the last seven crystal footballs, ESPN and the SEC announced the coming of SEC Network on Thursday afternoon in Atlanta before a gathering of 200 media members.
While executives, administrators, coaches and fans are patting themselves on the back, we'll attempt to wade through the confetti and tell you what you need to know about college sports' newest cash cow.
Who was there? ESPN head honcho John Skipper, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ESPN executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing (who will leave that position to oversee the day-to-day operations of SEC Network) were on hand to present the network with help from 32 of the league's coaches, including all 14 football coaches. ESPNU lead anchor Dari Nowkhah was the emcee.
When will it launch? August 2014.
What will it be named? The formal name is SEC ESPN Network, but it will commonly be called just "SEC Network".
Where will the network be located? Charlotte, North Carolina.
This means the SEC is adding North Carolina and N.C. State, right?!? Not likely. ESPNU is already headquartered in Charlotte, so the SEC Network will naturally piggyback off of that existing infrastructure.
How much money is this thing worth? Slive and ESPN's executives declined to say. Some projections place the network's worth in the billions. With that may be a little optimistic, it's safe to say the SEC will vault from its current fourth-place position into first among annual media dollars distribution to member schools. The Big 12 leads the pack right now at $26 million per school. A figure of $40 million per school by 2016 or so isn't out of the question.
How long is the agreement? The SEC and ESPN will be in business together through at least 2034. It immediately becomes the lengthiest agreement in televesion (the Longhorn Network contract was also for 20 years when it was signed in 2011). ESPN can afford to ink such a long deal because 20 years from now, even if we're having our favorite shows streamed directly into our brains while we're sleeping, audiences will still need to watch sports live.
What makes SEC Network different from other conference networks? SEC and ESPN executives referred to the network as something that's "never been done before" on multiple occasions. That's true for both entities. The SEC has obviously never had a network of its own before, while Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Networks are owned and operated outside of the ESPN landscape.
How are they going to split the money? Slive declined to elaborate how ESPN and the SEC plan to split all the projected cash the network is projected to bring in, stating only that "we're both happy". BTN dollars are split 50-50 between the Big Ten and Fox, while the Pac-12 Network and its six regional outfits are wholly owned by the conference. If this deal is structured anything like ESPN's contract with Texas for the Longhorn Network, the SEC will get a set figure, with lots and lots of zeros and commas, while ESPN assumes the remaining profits or losses.
How can I see SEC Network? AT&T Uverse has already signed on to carry the network.
But I don't have AT&T Uverse. There's still 16 months to go and a lot of carriage agreements aren't finalized until the 11th hour, so expect this to be a lengthy storyline. In preparation for its boxing matches with cable providers, the SEC is inviting fans to create a groundswell of demand through GetSECNetwork.com.
Getting all of the major players in the cable/satellite business aboard has proven to be a difficult hurdle to clear for SEC Network's predecessors - Big Ten Network had a lenghty battle with Time Warner Cable, Pac-12 Networks still haven't reached an agreement with DirecTV and Longhorn Network is still in the dark on every major carrier except Verizon Fios and AT&T Uverse.
Will it be available outside the South? Of course. Skipper stated multiple times that ESPN fully plans on SEC Network being a national channel. If SEC Network anything like its predecessors, it will be offered on the common cable tier (next to ESPN, NFL Network, etc. on the dial) in the SEC's 11 home states and on a sports package (in the 600's or so on your channel guide) outside the South.
What will be on SEC Network? The network will show upwards 450 live events per year.
What does that mean for football? Three games per week for each of the 13 regular-season weeks. There will be a game in each window (12 p.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. ET and prime time). Until now, the 3:30 p.m. ET window had been exclusive to CBS (meaning no other SEC games could be shown in that time slot on other networks) but that will end after this season. CBS will still have the first pick of games each week. The rest of the SEC schedule will be divvied up between ESPN's properties - ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and SEC Network. How exactly those games will be slotted remains to be seen and will likely change week to week, but expect some premiere matchups currently reserved for ESPN's prime time slot (LSU - South Carolina, Alabama - Georgia and the like) to be shipped to SEC Network to serve as leverage in cable negotiations.
Does this mean we'll see more midweek SEC games? "We're a Saturday league," said Slive.
Does this means the pay-per-view games are going away? Yes.
What if there's more than one game on at once? ESPN will pop out overflow channels when SEC Network games are on simultaneously. In fact, there are teams of trained professionals hard at work to ensure subscribers can access SEC Network content through every avenue imaginable.
Will there be high school games? No.
Is ESPN going to force the SEC to play a nine-game league schedule? Slive said nothing has been decided on that front, but expects conversations to continue. If the SEC does go to nine games, it could be more in preparation for the College Football Playoff than SEC Network-driven, however.
What about coaches' press conferences, all-access shows, stuff like that? Specifics like that are still a long way from being finalized (there are still 16 months until the launch, after all) but you can bet programming like that will be in the weekday lineup throughout the year.
Is there a logo? There are two, in fact.
Which 2013 season trailer do you like more: Navy or North Carolina?
We are now inside of three months until teams can compete against each other on the field, so the best they can do is release trailers previewing that competition. And that means the best we can do at this time is make those trailers compete against each other.
In one corner we have the Navy Midshipmen, fresh off an 8-5 season, with a beautifully edited trailer scored with majestic music and interwoven with quotes from President Obama and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo.
In the opposite corner we have the North Carolina Tar Heels, coming off an 8-4 season, with a trailer that will tug at the heartstrings of every Marvel comics fan.
Now it's up to you to decide: who wins?
Washington State defensive coordinator Mike Breske mic'd up
After close calls against Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA, Washington State broke through for its first Pac-12 victory in the Mike Leach era by winning a 31-28 overtime thriller over Washington to close the season.
Now defensive coordinator Mike Breske's task is to build on that finish as the Cougars head into the 2013 season. He heads a Washigton State defense that ranked eighth nationally in tackles for loss (7.67 per game) and 11th in sacks (2.92 per game) while intercepting more passes than any Wazzu defense since 2006, allowing the Cougars to jump nearly 20 spots nationally in pass efficiency defense.
"What's unique about Washington State is each practice we get to face Mike Leach's offense," Breske said. "As a defensive back that just means you're going to get better day in and day out. Our 1-on-1 sessions are very competitive."
Video: Take a sneak peek at Arizona's new uniforms
As Oregon State and Cal have already told us this offseason (not to mention the godfather of the postmodern uniform craze, Oregon), you can't just roll out new uniforms in the Pac-12. They have to be teased, packaged and promoted, leading up to a de facto pep rally (often with a Nike executive in attendance).
We don't yet know if Arizona will follow steps two and three of that blueprint, but they've completed step one with this teaser video.
Here's betting there will be more where this came from.
Impressive video of proposed 'redevelopment' of Kyle Field
Looks pretty darn impressive.
NCAA bans hashtags on football fields
USC director of social media Jordan Moore sent the college football segment of Twitter into a frenzy on Wednesday afternoon when he broke this news (and, yes, it is real):
Social media police: The NCAA has banned hashtags on college football fields.— Jordan Moore (@MooreSports) May 1, 2013
This is yet another example of the NCAA stepping into an area that no one thought needed policing, while a Miami-sized plank remains firmly in both of its eyes.
But, for those who are still unclear on the NCAA's ruling, we thought we'd run through what is permissible and not permissible among field decorations in the eyes of college sports' governing body.
After looking at it this way, it's clear why the NCAA felt moved to create this rule. Those hashtags were really distracting.
AFCA proposing further rule changes
The AFCA released a statement today in which they state the following:
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Board of Trustees conducted its summer meeting April 29-30 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mack Brown, AFCA president and head coach at the University of Texas, stated, “The AFCA Board of Trustees spent considerable time discussing the national championship trophy that will be presented to the national championship team in the new College Football Playoff and issues dealing with proposed changes to recruiting regulations as a result of the NCAA’s reform efforts.”
Specifically, the AFCA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to recommend to the Football Bowl Subdivision commissioners that the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy (Crystal Ball) continue to be the national championship trophy. It was the board’s opinion that the trophy has become the symbol of supremacy in college football and it should be retained as the national championship trophy.
With regard to NCAA legislation, the AFCA Board of Trustees has been asked by the NCAA to serve as an advisory group to a special subcommittee that will review proposed legislation dealing with recruiting. As a result, the board spent considerable time developing recommendations dealing with the recruiting calendar and policies pertaining to off-campus contacts.
In addition, a proposal regarding limitations on coaching staffs and non-coaching staff personnel was developed and will be submitted to the NCAA for consideration.
The AFCA Board that will serve as an advisory committee to the NCAA is composed of representatives from the 11 FBS conferences as well as two representatives from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Harvard professor shows the benefits a strong football program brings to its university
The next time someone tells you college athletics have lost their place within the grand scheme of higher education, remind them of this play:
On Nov. 23, 1984, Doug Flutie launched a Hail Mary that miraculously avoided a host of Miami defenders until it landed in the arms of Gerard Phalen laying on the Orange Bowl turf. The catch gave the Eagles a 47-45 win and brought Flutie the Heisman Trophy, but that play did even more for the school itself than the football program. As the clip was played and played and played on every highlight show and newscast throughout the nation, Boston College landed on the mind of every college applicant in the country, spiking BC's application numbers by 30 percent within two years according to Sean Silverthorne.
Silverthorne has summarized Harvard Business School assistant professor Doug Chung's 45-page paper entitled The Dynamic Advertising Effect of College Athletics, published in the journal Marketing Science. Chung quantified what a successful football season brings a school in terms a university president can appreciate: a 17.7 jump in applications. To gain a similar boost on the academic side of the house, a university would either have to lower tuition by 3.8 percent or recruit faculty who are paid 5.1 percent above their average rate. Considering the political capital that would be required to accomplish either one of those goals, one can see why university presidents are so eager to sign off on a big check for that new indoor practice facility or that hot new head coach. Additionally, Chung was surprised to learn that students with high SAT scores could be swayed by athletic success.
Outside of stictly academic benefits, football programs serve their universities through three-hour informercials every fall Saturday and by bringing young fans to campus that otherwise would never have a reason to be there. And, as former Texas A&M president Robert Gates has noted, a football game is the only event that brings university administrators, professors and the student body together in one place.
That, in a nutshell, is the Flutie Effect. As Chung attests, the Flutie Effect is real, and he has the evidence to prove it.
"I saw this game live on TV with my father when I was growing up in Kansas," he says, "and have been a big fan ever since."