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Tag:ESPN
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:43 pm
 

VIDEO: Dennis Dodd on BCS TV consultants

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Monday, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported on the BCS' decision to bring in high-profile television consultants for the purposes of restructuring college football's postseason.

Television dollars have been driving conference realignment, and now college football decision makers will take a close look at the potential financial gain from a plus-one playoff model. On Tuesday, Dennis Dodd joined Tim Brando on the Tim Brando Show to discuss the high-profile consulting hires and what they mean for the BCS moving forward.



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Posted on: February 16, 2012 5:49 pm
 

2012 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff: 2 games in 2 days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We've known since September 2010 that the 2012 edition of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game would be the annual event's first doubleheader, one matching up Auburn and Clemson in one game and Tennessee and North Carolina State in the other. But Thursday saw the organizers reveal that for the first time, the Kickoff will become a two-day event, one matching up the Volunteers and Wolfpack on Friday, Aug. 31, and the Tigers and other Tigers Saturday, Sept. 1.

“When we created the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with ESPN, our goal was to kick off the season in a special and memorable way,” Chick-Fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan said in a statement. “With these two games, and these four teams and their fan bases, this is going to be a colossal weekend of football in Atlanta – like nothing you have ever seen before.”

While we don't begrudge Stokan or the athletic directors quoted in the statement their excitement over "the first-ever double hosting of marquee, BCS-style games on back-to-back days in the same venue," we also won't begrudge any neutral fans their lack of excitement over games that -- frankly -- don't quite live up to that "BCS-style" billing. Clemson may have won the ACC last season, but none of the other three participants won more than 7 regular season games, with the Vols' 5-7 mark a particular disappointment. (That billboard-worthy Orange Bowl drubbing at the hands of West Virginia even took a bit of the shine off of Clemson's 2011, too.) There's also the little detail that Auburn and Clemson doesn't exactly qualify as an exotic nonconference matchup any longer, not with the two teams having played each of the last two seasons and three of the past five. 

We won't argue with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips when he calls the Auburn-Clemson tilt "one of the national highlights of the opening weekend of college football." But compared to past games like Alabama-Clemson in 2008 or Georgia-Boise State in 2011, we're forced to point out the 2012 Kickoff isn't quite that kind of highlight, either.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 1:14 pm
 

Leach inspires Friday Night Lights film script

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Having a thinly veiled version of himself play a key role in the movie version of The Blind Side has only seemed to boost the career of Hugh Freeze, the new Ole Miss head man and the only FBS coach we can think of to have the details of his life turned into elements of a major motion picture. So maybe the folks at Washington State should be happy to hear the details revealed Tuesday regarding the planned Friday Night Lights movie.

FNL executive producer and director of the original Friday Night Lights film Peter Berg told MTV that the saga surrounding Mike Leach's controversial departure from Texas Tech would become the inspiration for one of the new movie's principal storylines. According to Berg: 

"[Screenwriter Jason Katims] has come up with a really great storyline that parallels what happened to Mike Leach, one of my heroes, a coach at Texas Tech who was unjustly fired and unjustly accused of mistreating a player with a concussion, which was proven to not have been the case. He's now at Washington State getting ready for what I think will be a great redemption story," Berg explained ... "The idea is to really revolve it around the coach."

While Leach's account of his treatment of Adam James and subsequent dismissal from Lubbock has not yet been "proven" in the legal sense, the drama over his battles with James (and ESPN analyst/senatorial candidate father Craig James) and the Texas Tech brass could provide fodder enough for an entire movie trilogy.

Of course, Berg may be fortunate just the get the one Leach-inspired movie made; while saying "We're not done with Friday Night Lights," he also admits that corralling all of his principal actors together for the film wouldn't be easy. (And star Taylor Kitsch sounded less than gung-ho about reprising his role as Tim Riggins, saying he'd "maybe do a cameo or something.")

So we wouldn't advise the Cougar public relations staff in Pullman to start work on their "Mike Leach: movie hero inspiration" promotional campaign just yet. But just ask Freeze: if Berg does get his Leach-centric script into production, it surely won't hurt Leach's already formidable reputation as one of the most fascinating characters in college football.

HT: Grantland 

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 2:34 pm
 

Report: ACC expansion to net bump in TV deal

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



The ACC's decision to expand with Pitt and Syracuse has reportedly paid off with a substantial addition to their television contract's bottom line--though if the addition was substantial enough to justify the drawbacks of that expansion may be debatable.

The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that in the wake of the addition of the Panthers and Orangethe ACC has been able to "reopen" its recently signed contract with ESPN and negotiate a $1 million to $2 million annual increase for each of its now 14 member schools. Under the revised contract, each ACC member "can expect at least $14 million to $15 million a year," an increase from the current $13 million. The overall value of the contract is expected to increase from $155 million per season to north of $200 million.

The increase would bring the ACC nearly on par in annual distribution revenue with the Big 12, which the SBJ estimates currently averages $15 million per school, with the SEC at $17 million and the Big Ten and Pac-12 at $21 million.

But those figures illustrate why the ACC's expansion may not have provided enough buck for its bang. All four of those leagues should see their TV revenues increase in the near future, the Big 12 and SEC through their own expansion-induced negotiations and the Big Ten and Pac-12 through growing profits from their in-house networks. When the dust from the current round of expansion settles, the ACC is likely to still trail four of the five other BCS conferences (though they may have pulled closer to the Big 12, depending on how that league's negotiations go).

There's other downsides to the expansion, too. For one, the revised contract reportedly won't kick in until Syracuse and Pitt become active members of the league, which may not take place until 2014-2015 and certainly won't be in 2012-2013. In exchange for the boost to the contract, ESPN is also expected to exact a not-insignificant price: a three-year extension of what was already a 12-year deal, meaning the ACC won't be able to enter a full contract negotiation until 2026. (If the Big Ten and Pac-12 networks continue at their expected rates of growth, how wide will the gap be between those conferences and the ACC 14 years from now?) 

And though a potential $2 million per season is certainly nothing to sneeze at, shuttling not just the football team but volleyball, baseball, tennis (etc.) teams to West Pennsylvania and upstate New York on an annual basis will add to the travel budget. Then there's the fewer games between traditional ACC rivals in both football and basketball (though the nine-game gridiron schedule will help) and increased difficulty for any individual team to earn a championship ... all for a financial windfall that at Clemson equals not much more than a single assistant coach.

Is it worth it? Given that the ACC couldn't really stand pat as those other four BCS leagues pushed the financial gap even wider, John Swofford and Co. probably didn't have any choice. But the first time we watch Georgia Tech play at Heinz Field instead of Death Valley or the Orange disrupt what would have been a Duke-North Carolina ACC Tournament final, we're going to wonder.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:23 pm
 

Television ratings not kind to BCS title game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Did you watch Alabama beat LSU 21-0 to win the BCS Championship last night? If not, you weren't alone in finding your television entertainment elsewhere.

The overnight ratings for the BCS National Championship Game show that last night's rematch between Alabama and LSU was the lowest-rated title game in the 14-year history of the BCS, bringing in a 13.8 overnight rating, a 14% drop from last year's game between Auburn and Oregon. The previous low had been set in 2002 when Miami played Nebraska for the title and the game brought a 14.3 rating.

There are a few factors that were no doubt in play here. First of all, it seems many college football fans were serious when they said they didn't want to watch a rematch of a game they'd already seen, particularly one that ended 9-6 the first time and didn't exactly provide a lot of excitement. Another factor to consider is that the game was broadcast on ESPN, which is available on cable packages and previous BCS games had always been broadcast on national networks.

The low ratings for the title game followed the trend of the other four BCS bowls as well, as the average rating of all BCS games dropped 10% from the 2010 season and 21% from the 2009 season. Again, this is likely a combination of the games now being broadcast on cable and college football fans who are tiring of the bowl system.

The good news is that with all the momentum that already seems to be in place for the BCS to add a plus-one system in the coming years, the drop in ratings may provide an additional kick in the pants. 

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:42 am
 

Report: BYU in discussions with Big 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Wednesday, BYU officials released a statement condemning conference expansion "conjecture" involving the Cougars as a "distraction" its football program didn't need. We're going to humbly suggest, however, that the Cougars simply get used to it.

Because after this report from the Salt Lake Tribune, it's safe to say that conjecture is only getting started. According to the Tribune, BYU officials and representatives from the Big 12 have already met for discussions regarding "what conditions and assurances [BYU] would need to make the jump" to the soon-to-be Texas A&M-free conference.

Among those "conditions" would be how the Big 12 might coexist with BYU's existing television network, BYUtv, not to mention the rest of BYU's athletics programs; currently, the Cougars are scheduled to join the West Coast Conference in sports other than football beginning with the 2011-2012 athletics season. The Tribune reported that "some of the discussions involve the possibility of BYU joining the Big 12 for football only."

Also reportedly offering "input" to the talks? Representatives from Notre Dame, BYU's "partner" in independence who have an six-year football series scheduled with the Cougars. ESPN's football contract with BYU was also a point of discussion.

All of this makes yesterday's statement seem even more misleading. Before, its omission of any actual denials regarding the Cougars' conference affiliation might have simply been an oversight. But now, it's obvious those omissions were intentional; the rumors linking BYU to the Big 12 have legs, and thickly-built legs at that.

It's still too soon to say BYU-to-the-Big 12 is a done deal, or even likely; with rumors also abundant that a bundle of Pac-12 invitations will have the Big 12 dissolved by Halloween, BYU may not wind up with anywhere to make the jump to. But as far as the Big 12's survival goes, sitting down at the table with a name-brand program like BYU isn't a bad first step at all.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 7:37 pm
 

BYU issues statement on expansion "distraction"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With an open spot (or possibly spots, plural) now available in the Big 12, rumors have begun flying as to what team (or teams) might fill it (or them). One of the teams frequently mentioned is BYU, whose long tradition of football success, devoted following, and current independence could make it an interesting fit.

In response to that "speculation," BYU issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour. Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program. As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our [other sports'] affiliation with the West Coast Conference.
Of course, by releasing the statement, BYU has confirmed that such speculation exists and arguably creates a greater "distraction" than simply not issuing any statement at all. (Would we be writing this post if the Cougar administration had said nothing at all? No.) That the statement notably declines to say "we will not be joining the Big 12 or any other conference" or  "BYU will remain an independent" or something along those lines will likely only fuel the rumor mill's fire, too.

We sympathize with schools (like Virginia Tech, whose spokesman angrily commented on SEC-centric rumors earlier Wednesday) caught up in the maelstrom of expansion talk, just as their 2011 football seasons are ready to get underway. Their frustration is understandable. But in this case, expressing that frustration may end up doing more "distraction" harm than good.

Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com