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Tag:Versus
Posted on: July 4, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Declaring some football independents on July 4

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Happy Independence Day everyone. It's been a remarkable 235 years but America is still going strong despite plenty of ups and downs. On the gridiron, it seems like Notre Dame, Navy and others have been independent of conference overlords for just as long. With BYU joining their ranks last week and in honor of the holiday, it's a perfect time to look at what programs could follow their lead and go out on their own.

While it's doubtful that any of these programs will actually pursue going independence in the near future, perhaps they could/would/should on second thought. Feel free to bring up some other programs that could go out on their own in the comments below.

Boise State

The Broncos have made quite the run the past few years, winning two BCS bowls and posting a remarkable three undefeated seasons. Boise State was originally a junior college who has, rather quickly, risen in the ranks from an independent in Division II to their current place in the Mountain West. Their wide-open style of play and ability to beat more talented teams has certainly earned them a national reputation and with that comes eyeballs. For example, last season's game against Virginia Tech earned a 6.8 overnight rating, making it the highest rated Labor Day night game since 1990.

From the Blue Turf to the trick plays, a lot of what has made Boise State football a national brand is due to the exposure they get on ESPN. For years they had several featured games on the network and, even if they were on late at night on the East Coast, people were at least able to see the games. Boise State is losing a lot of that exposure with the move to the Mountain West (with games on The Mtn. and Versus) in exchange for an increase in television revenue, which is expected to be around $800,000 a year based on the current conference agreements. If Boise State gets unhappy with the arrangement and decides to go independent, they could follow the lead of BYU. The Cougars recently signed a deal with ESPN to televise several football games with estimates putting the value of the deal at between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game. As a program with a love-them-or-hate-them reputation that causes people to tune in, going independent might make sense down the road.

Florida State

If there's one team on this list that is actually familiar with football independence, it's Florida State. The Seminoles were conference-less from 1951-1991 prior to joining the ACC. In a curious twist of fate, the school was invited by the ACC to join their conference but were rejected by the SEC. Regardless, Florida State is aware of what it takes to be an independent and what challenges and benefits come with it. While most believe their relationship with the ACC is a good one, one never knows what will happen if another wave of conference realignment hits. The ACC is, mostly, a basketball-centric league and as winners of two somewhat recent national titles, Florida State is much more of a football school than the conference's other members.

Scheduling always gets tricky but Florida State has a long history of playing both Miami and Florida. Both games are usually big ratings winners so, like Boise State, the program would likely do well financially getting a majority of the television money versus splitting it with fellow conference members. Throw in nearby UCF and USF and the Seminoles could have nearly half a schedule from in-state programs alone. Add in a big name program, such as the one against Oklahoma this year, and Florida State could get back to being a much bigger draw nationally like they were in the 1990's. Of course, as with most Florida teams, they'd also have to win to stay relevant.

Oregon

The way things are going with the NCAA investigation into Oregon's football and basketball programs, it's likely more than a few Ducks fans have thought about leaving the NCAA altogether, much less the Pac-12. While the program itself hasn't seen much success on the gridiron outside of the past decade, there's one thing that lands Oregon on this list: Nike. The Beaverton, Ore., based company has already made the Ducks their featured program by ensuring they have the latest Nike gear and well over 160 uniform combinations (feel free to mix and match your own Duck uniform here).

The school already has an affiliate network of television and radio stations and it wouldn't be all that surprising if they teamed with Nike to get an actual cable channel going. Given what Nike has already done in the marketing sphere, the idea of "their" team crisscrossing the country might raise as many eyebrows in Indianapolis as it does in Eugene. At the same time, it's hard not to see the idea floated in Phil Knight's office at some point, is it?

Texas

Go ahead and insert your own Big 12-Texas joke here. If there was one lesson to be learned from last summer's realignment saga, it was that Texas is the major player in college athletics - and for good reason. The football program brought in the most revenue in the country last year with a staggering $94 million take and a nearly $69 million profit. If there's any program that could afford any initial financial hit from going independent, it's the Longhorns.

The program is also uniquely positioned (perhaps more so than anybody on this list) to head out on their own. The Longhorn Network will launch in late August and, with ESPN's backing, figures to expand the Texas brand into households across the country. Like BYU with BYUtv, having their own network already up and running would be a huge advantage over others that would be pondering a similar move. Schedule-wise, they would have no problem scheduling games based on the teams nearby and their draw nationally. Add in the fact that Texas is a large public school with plenty of alumni and fans across the country, and it's possible that football independence actually makes a lot of sense if administrators don't find the arrangement with the Big 12 to be working out.

USC

If you're making a list of things that a school should have if they're considering going independent, USC would have a lot of check marks next to their name. Lots of alumni all over the country? Check. Nationally recognized brand? Check. Traditional college football power? Check. Given the school's connections to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, it wouldn't be all that surprising if they were able to quickly move onto some unique and intriguing media options if they decided to pursue football independence.

The recent NCAA sanctions have certainly hurt the reputation of the school and the football program which might actually be one reason why the school decides to make the jump from the Pac-12 to join the ranks of rival Notre Dame as an independent. Plenty of alumni are not happy with the Pac-10's lack of support in their infractions case (unlike, say the Big Ten with Ohio State) and that cuts into some of the good will Larry Scott has brought with a new media rights package. The Trojans have plenty of history of going around the country and playing teams, why not a little more of that as an independent? The Pac-10 was known as USC and nine others during the run under Pete Carroll, so maybe the idea of separating from the bunch isn't too far-fetched.



Posted on: May 13, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 12:32 pm
 

How the Pac-12 mega-deal went down

Posted by Chip Patterson

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott figured that the conference's new television negotiations would last well into the summer. With all the major players making their pitch, the process did not appear to be moving rapidly at all. That all changed when ESPN's John Skipper reached out to Fox's Randy Freer about a partnership to win the Pac-12 television rights away from NBC/Comcast. Until late April, Comcast appeared to be the leader in the race - offering the Pac-12 a package that would pay $225 million annually and broadcast on Versus and NBC. The Sports Business Journal detailed how the unlikely partnership came about.
However, Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president of content, was intrigued. Not only would a joint effort increase the bid, it would keep Comcast from picking up rights to a BCS conference. It had just bid $187 million per year to win the NHL rights and wanted to add to that with a Pac-10 acquisition. ESPN and Fox wanted to stop that momentum.

So Skipper called Freer to talk about a joint bid. Freer, Fox Sports' co-president, was interested. Other than CBS's deal with the SEC, Fox and ESPN control the football rights to every BCS conference, and a familiarity was there.

"We have historically worked with ESPN on sublicensing games and events to them and from them," Freer said. "This was done at the conference's request to see if more value could be created for the conference."

They agreed to meet on April 28, when Skipper and John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, flew across the country to meet at the Fox lot in Los Angeles. The ESPN duo met with Freer, Fox Sports COO Larry Jones and Karen Brodkin, senior vice president at Fox Cable Networks.

"Neither side looked at this as a way to try and do a land grab," Wildhack said. "Fairly quickly, both of us found that we had a lot more in common than not."

Over a seven-hour meeting that day, they came up with a bid that would split the rights — 22 football games each — and pay the Pac-10 a whopping $3 billion over 12 years, or $250 million a year. The deal would blow past Comcast's best effort, which eventually rose to $235 million. Last week, Comcast's Brian Roberts told CNBC that his company did not land rights to the Pac-10's TV package because it was "financially disciplined."

The two media giants moved quickly to get the deal done, and Larry Scott freed up some time in his schedule this summer. The interesting take here is the value of the Pac-12, which previously was earning $54 million annually as opposed to the $250 million in the new deal. Clearly the demand for the conference's athletics, particularly football, has grown beyond the West Coast.

As the gap between time zones continues to shrink due to interactivity, the "East Coast Media Bias" will slowly diminish as well. Seeing the moves made by two huge media organizations in order to secure this growing audience is an alert that the Pac-12 plans to continue their rising growth in popularity. College football may not have the lengthy past on the West Coast, but they are making up for it in the present.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 9:30 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 9:34 am
 

Report: Pac-12 agrees to $2.7B deal with Fox/ESPN

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the Pac-12 prepare to welcome Colorado and Utah, expanding their membership to a football-friendly 12 schools, the conference has been working furiously to sign a new and more lucrative television deal for the conference.  According to the Sports Business Journal, the conference has agreed to a new deal with Fox and ESPN that is worth $2.7B over 12 years.  The deal, which reportedly could be made official as soon as Wednesday, will cover football, basketball, and Olympic sports.

In the reported deal, ESPN gets rights to football, basketball, and an Olympic sports package.  They have committed to air an unknown amount of football games in primetime on ABC.  Fox gets basketball and football rights, airing games on Fox Sports channels and FX.  The two networks will rotate coverage of the basketball tournament and football championship game.

The conference's current media deal was also with ESPN and Fox, but the addition of the football championship game and two new schools changed the landscape for the Pac-12.  Comcast/NBC made a play for the deal with their sports network Versus, but pulled out of the competition.  If the reported amount is confirmed, the new deal will more than triple the Pac-12's current deals with ESPN and Fox.
 
 
 
 
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