The last time SEC fans heard from Mike Slive on the topic of his league's forthcoming television network, he all-but-confirmed the open secret to USA Today, stopping short of saying the decision was final but declaring that there was room on the nation's satellite TV packages and cable bills for "at least one" more conference-branded network.
So per the Bryan-College Station Eagle, maybe it's no surprise that Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman told the local Chamber of Commerce Monday that the network is definitely on its way -- but that Hyman is so certain of its imminent arrival (and willing to credit it for solving any potential Aggie financial issues) suggests that Slive's officially official announcement could come along any day now.
"We don't have a lot of financial maneuverability here in the athletic department right now," Hyman said. "But hopefully, when the (SEC) television network comes on in a couple of years we'll have more flexibility."
"It's a game-changer, it separates us," he added. "All of our teams will get exposure like they've never had before. The exposure that we're going to get is going to be phenomenal."
That would make the Aggies' leap to the SEC a win-win for both the school and its new conference home; a successful television network would likely make the SEC the most lucrative conference affiliation in the FBS (it distributed a record $241.5 million in 2011-2012, the final fiscal year before adding A&M and Missouri), and it was only the expansion into College Station and Columbia that made the current round of TV re-negotiations possible after the SEC signed long-term deals in 2008.
The SEC network is reportedly set to debut in August 2014, once the league's third-tier local television rights -- which unlike the Big Ten's and Pac-12's, are currently contracted out by the SEC's individual members and must be reacquired from those local rights-holders -- are taken care of. Other potential hiccups like cable/satellite distribution and scheduling must also be dealt with.
But if Slive's subtle confidence wasn't reason to believe those wrinkles are on the cusp of being ironed out (if they aren't already), Hyman's unsubtle confidence (and public expectation in the resulting financial windfall) is just another to reason to dismiss any lingering doubts. The SEC network is coming; the only questions now are when the league will get around to providing the details.