Tag:ESPN
Posted on: October 22, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:20 am
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MWC/CUSA behind Global Conference proposal

You thought Big Country was big? Wait until you wade into the details from a consortium that would include more than a quarter of all Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Under the plan being circulated by the Mountain West and Conference USA to FBS administrators, those two conferences would hope to join forces with the Big East in a grouping of 28 to 32 schools in football only. The Big East is still pursuing a 12-team football league.

The idea is for the three conferences to stay viable to the BCS for automatic qualification to a BCS bowl or bowls. For now, call it the Global Conference. 

Those conferences would reorganize to compete in four, eight-team divisions or four, seven-team divisions. It’s not clear from the document how many automatic bids would emerge out of the group.

The Boston Globe and CBSSports.com received the document detailing the plan. The Globe first reported its details on Friday.

“In the event the concept of the AQ (automatic qualifier) goes forward,” the document states, “the decision of which conferences receive it, will likely be based on multiple factors, some of which are tangible and others intangible.”

It adds that nothing is assured in the postseason landscape after the 2013 season, the final year of the current BCS/ESPN agreement. The document acknowledges that the five power conferences have “clearly distinguished” themselves – Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC – but that the Big East “has not compared well to most Power Conferences from a competitive standpoint”.

The document goes on to say that there is a “low probability” the Big East would retain its automatic BCS bid after 2013. It states what is already known -- that the conference needed a waiver from commissioners to retain BCS membership in 2008. It also says that the Big East is so low in the current qualification standards that it wouldn’t even qualify for a waiver to remain a BCS league at the moment. It concludes the Big East in its current form does not merit BCS inclusion over “the MW/CUSA.”

That could be self-serving propaganda from the Big Country. Conference USA and the Mountain West announced last week a 22-school alliance from which a champion could emerge that would snag a BCS bowl. Separately, the Mountain West recently proposed a 16-team FBS playoff.

The document obtained by CBSSports.com and the Globe goes on to detail “an alternative path” for the Big East worthy of “serious consideration.” If there is a BCS going forward after 2013, it states, the Big East’s best future lies with a “cooperative initiative” rather than individual efforts to rebuild.

“We are at a crossroads,” states the document.

The Global Conference divisions

 

West

Boise State

Hawaii

UNLV

Nevada

Fresno State

San Diego State

Utah State

 

Mountain

Air Force

 Wyoming

Colorado State

New Mexico

Texas –El Paso

SMU

 Tulsa

Houston


Central

Marshall

Memphis

Southern Miss

Tulane

Alabama-Birmingham

Rice

Temple

Louisiana Tech

 

Big East

Louisville

Connecticut

Rutgers

Cincinnati

South Florida

Central Florida

East Carolina

Navy

 

The 28-team model would be slightly reorganized and not include San Jose State, Temple, Louisiana Tech, Navy

Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 12:53 am
 

Source: Big 12 best to stay at 9

The Big 12 should not expand in order to maximize its earning power, a source intimately involved in the conference's TV negotiations told CBSSports.com on Thursday.

"If it were me I'd try to stay where I am," said the source. "Nine months ago they had the same money for 10 teams. Is anything going to change if they have nine?"

Texas A&M's formal departure to the SEC this week reduced the Big 12 to nine teams. Missouri is still contemplating whether also to pursue membership in the SEC. With nine teams, the source said, not only would the conference get an expected windfall for its primary rights fees following the 2015 season, it would provide nine more non-conference games as inventory.

"That's more attractive to the networks than BYU-Iowa State," said source who did not want to be identified because of his relationship with the league.

BYU is widely speculated to be joining the Big 12 should it expand. A nine-team league would allow the Big 12 to keep playing a round-robin conference schedule (eight games) while scheduling four non-conference games. The league currently plays a nine-game conference schedule with three non-conference games.

Both Fox and ESPN committed to saving the league in 2010 after the Pac-12 almost raided the Big 12 of half of its team. The 10 remaining schools were guaranteed approximately $20 million each when the conference's primary rights deal with ESPN expired after the 2015-16 academic year.

Fox began to fulfill that promise when the league agreed to a $1.13 billion deal for 13 years for its secondary rights earlier this year. The source said neither Fox nor ESPN were going pay less than promised in 2010 for the Big 12 at nine teams, or perhaps even eight teams. It's not clear if Fox or ESPN have a cancellation clause of their contracts if league membership falls below a certain number.

Staying at nine, said the source, would make it easier for conference schools to get to that $20 million per-team plateau. For example, with nine teams the new Fox deal alone is worth $9.6 million per team. In the latest round of conference realignment schools either are a "brand" or have markets. While more teams would bring more inventory (games) to bid on, the question is: Would each new school bring $20 million to the table individually?

The Big 12 has a long way to go before answering that question. It hasn't been determined whether the schools have committed their primary media rights to the conference for six years. That would essentially hold the conference together but no one is quite sure where that issue stands. Oklahoma president David Boren said a week all the remaining schools had agreed. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton merely said the issue was being discussed.

The Missouri board of curators will reportedly meet on Tuesday. The board could merely empower Deaton to seek another conference although there is no indication which way the school is leaning.

Big 12 expansion speculation is all over the map -- from staying at nine to going to 16 teams.

 

 

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm
 

As long Big 12 has OU & UT, it has options

Let's look at this current conference alignment thing a different way. No commissioner wants to be seen as the one to cause Alignment Armageddon. But if it has to be the Big 12, who could blame Dan Beebe? His embattled league has suffered enough. Suddenly it has options, good ones, with or without Texas A&M.

We all pretty much agree that we're headed sooner or later toward the age of the super conference with four 16-team (or whatever number) conferences. The question is how or when. Right now, we stand on the precipice with Texas A&M wanting to go to the SEC, but the SEC still thinking about whether to take the Aggies.

That's because the SEC doesn't have to expand. It's fine how it is with 18 years to run on a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN. If A&M goes then sooner or later, the SEC is going to have to get a 14th member. Commissioner Mike Slive seemingly loves A&M but he -- and his presidents -- don't necessarily want to be that guy, responsible for breaking up another league.

The question is whether Beebe has such reservations. And as long as he has Oklahoma and Texas, he has leverage.

As mentioned, it's looking suddenly like the Big 12 is dealing from a position of strength. It could lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and still be able to lure two teams (or more) to stay viable. Why? As long as the Texas/Oklahoma axis remains solid, so is the league. Fox invested $1.17 billion over 13 years just for the secondary rights. The Big 12 is going to hit another big financial home run in a couple of years when it goes out to bid. (The assumption is that ESPN will re-up for the primary rights.)

To this point, Oklahoma has shown a willingness to stay with Texas. While the schools are rivals on the field, ADs Joe Castiglione and DeLoss Dodds are close. They know that the fortunes of the two superpowers are mutually beneficial.

If Texas and Oklahoma stay bonded, the Big 12 is in somewhat of a position of power. It could raid the Big East and go to 12 or 16. Why not go get Pittsburgh and Louisville? Sure, Big East basketball great but think of a hoops league with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

BIG POINT NO. 1: Even though the Big East is due for a windfall rights fee of its own in a few years I'm told that the pending primary rights deal for the Big 12 would be bigger than the Big East's entire deal. 

Would that possibility pry Notre Dame loose? Not likely. ND AD Jack Swarbrick reiterated for the millionth time on Monday that his school is happy with independence. ND probably would need eight home games to make the deal work in the Big 12 because of its deal with NBC, at least one of those being a neutral site game. The school makes a reported $15 million a year from that deal. The Big 12 wouldn't say no then ND also reaping $20 million from the Big 12 deal. Heck, it's Notre Dame.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said publicly last year that the Big 12 would be an attractive place for Notre Dame's minor sports. The schools do start a four-game football series in 2015.

While we're at it, let's also forget the talk of Arkansas, SMU and Houston to the Big 12. Arkansas would be taking a pay cut. The Big 12 is already in the Dallas, Houston and state of Texas markets. SMU is making its case in part because it has been to back-to-back bowls. Is that all it takes these days?

In this age don't think of conference affiliations, think of which schools assembled together make for the most lucrative media rights deals. Remember, geography matters little. When TCU enters the Big East in 2012 that will be its fifth conference since 1995.

That's why the pool of candidates for the SEC's No. 14 has to include Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. That's not the list, it's a best-guess list if you believe that the SEC isn't going to expand inside its footprint. That means no Georgia Tech, no Louisville, no Clemson, no Florida State.

Whether the Big 12 loses Missouri or not, BYU has emerged as an attractive replacement for Texas A&M. That's not news. BYU has a loyal and large following. The question is whether BYU would give up its long-range plan for independence after only one year. One source last week went as far as to say BYU would be "excited" about the prospect of joining the Big 12.

AD Tom Holmoe told Brett McMurphy this month that his school was happy at the moment

While the Cougars have ESPN as a scheduling partner, it has to become apparent to the school sooner or later that it is all but out of BCS contention in most seasons. By going independent, it has the essentially the same BCS status as Army and Navy. That is to say, the only automatic berth would be if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2.

The six BCS conference champions are guaranteed a bid. A champion from one of the five non-BCS leagues get a bid if it finishes in the top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher in the final BCS standings than a BCS conference champion. Notre Dame (because it's Notre Dame) gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight of the BCS.

Army, Navy and BYU? Guaranteed only in the top two. BIG POINT NO. 2: Essentially that means BYU could finish 10-2 (or even 11-1) and have nothing guaranteed in the BCS.

Earlier this year, I wrote that BYU's independence was more about faith that most people thought. I'm starting to think all it would take is one year of being left out of the BCS (and a call from the Big 12) for the school's fans and officials to change their minds about independence.

Meanwhile, the "composition language" in the SEC contract is probably similar to that of the Big 12's. That means ESPN would most likely try to renegotiate downward its current deal with the Big 12. Say that is 10 percent of the contract given that A&M represents 10 percent of the Big 12. At that point it becomes like rearranging deck chairs. ESPN could tell the SEC, the money it is taking away from the Big 12 goes to the SEC. In essence, A&M's money would follow it to the SEC.

It isn't that easy. The SEC would most likely negotiate for more saying it is gaining huge viewership in the state of Texas. BIG POINT NO. 3: What's forgotten is the SEC isn't starting from a zero position. In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is already in Texas. SMU AD Steve Orsini told me last week that the ratings for Big 12 and SEC games in Dallas are "even." Whether that's true or not, there is already a big following for the SEC in the Lone Star State because there is a big following for the SEC everywhere. That's why the league already gets the big bucks.

A further hang-up on this A&M thing: It's better for everyone if the SEC expands by two all at once. That's one negotiation, rather than two. But if Texas A&M is one, what's the other?

It might not matter to the Big 12.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:57 pm
 

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Don't look at this Texas A&M thing as conference realignment. Look at it through the stakeholders' eyes.

The stakeholders being ESPN, Oklahoma, A&M and Texas. It's likely that ESPN CEO John Skipper is evaluating at this moment how to maximize his profits through Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas if there is another round of conference shuffling.

Where those schools end up is less important than how the three current Big 12 schools can be profitable for ESPN (and Fox).

Whether or not A&M ends up in the SEC, watch for the Pac-12 to sooner or later take another run at Texas. The Big 12's instability dictates it. Commissioner Larry Scott told the Austin American-Statesman last month after the formation of the Pac-12 network one could "imply" that the Longhorn Network would be a "huge impediment" to Texas joining his league.

How quickly things change -- or possibly change. In a strange way, the Pac-12 could now make it more likely that Texas make the jump if it deems the Big 12 not worth the effort.

"At this point I don't think Larry does anything," one source close to the situation said, "He's got to let it come to him. He's the one who is sitting there with all the firepower. There is no one in a better position to monetize expansion than Larry Scott is. Not the SEC, not the Big East, not the ACC, not the Big 12. He's sitting in the catbird seat."

Why? Because he can. Remember, Scott was the guy who had invited six Big 12 teams, including Texas, last year. Consider it a still-open invitation. One that Texas would have to seriously consider.

One source painted it this way: The new Pac-12 Network is made up of six regional networks. Why couldn't the Longhorn Network be folded into the Pac-12 as a seventh regional network?

The source emphasized that ESPN is desperate to make TLN profitable. It has sunk hundreds of millions into the venture and there is no certainty whether it will work. To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.

It didn't help Thursday that the NCAA ruled against the televising of high school games on school/conference networks.

There are a few hurdles. Texas supposedly would have to surrender its third-party rights (re: archival, historic properties). But if Texas shows interest, that's nothing more that details. The new Pac-12 shares revenue more or less equally. Again, that can be worked out because it's, well, Texas.

Pac-12 schools would have consider working around those barriers to get the No. 1 revenue-producing athletic department into its conference.

That takes care of Texas. Oklahoma? If A&M bolts, it is seemingly a swing team between the Pac-12 and SEC.

Here's why ESPN would like A&M in the SEC: The Aggies would make ESPN's (and CBS') 15-year, $3 billion deal with the league more profitable. Some at A&M obviously see it as a more stable home.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the Longhorns most likely aren't going to the SEC or Big Ten. Texas has always looked down its nose at the SEC. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds is on record as saying he is against independence.

The Pac-12 makes the most sense for Texas almost because of TLN. It would increase the value of Pac-12 Network as well as increase the value of TLN.

"Something is wrong with your conference," a source said. "when Washington State is getting more from its conference than the University of Texas."

The source was referring to the fact that some Pac-12 projections have the league making $30 million per school once its network gets up and running. Even when the Big 12 renegotiates its primary rights in a couple of years, it is expected to top out at $20 million per year. That was with A&M.

So where does that leave us? Scott and SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to comment through spokesmen. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did not return phone and text messages.

But I learned last year during the conference merry-go-round to start with the stakeholders. Last year, it was Texas and Notre Dame. Both stayed in place, minimizing conference realignment.

This year the main players are Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. The question seems to be whether the Big 12 will hold together (with nine schools, or more with new expansion) if A&M leaves. That decision is up to Texas and ESPN (and Fox).

That combination kept the Big 12 together last year. Is the negativity such that the league couldn't go on after the loss of A&M? Is an enhanced SEC and Pac-12 worth more to ESPN than a damaged or non-existent Big 12?

The answers, seemingly, are coming soon. Despite reports that A&M-to-the-SEC was a done deal, it's likely that nothing will be officially decided until the Aug. 22 A&M regents meeting.

While Nebraska was a slam dunk to go to the Big Ten last spring, it wasn't official until AD Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman made their official presentation to the regents.

Through an A&M spokesman I was able to determine this much about the process:

--A conference call among the regents is scheduled for Aug. 22. The fiscal year budgets for the entire A&M system will be discussed.

--An agenda has not been published beyond the budget discussions. An official agenda for the meeting will be available 72 hours prior.

--The spokesman would say whether conference membership would be discussed.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Brave new world for Big East commissioner

NEWPORT, R.I. -- If you saw John Marinatto 16 months ago he was sweating out the future of his conference. Literally.

Back in April 2010 the Big East commissioner was shepherded into a Phoenix resort conference room to discuss his conference's future with media during the annual BCS meetings. The pressure applied (and implied) by the Big Ten's Jim Delany perceived raid on the league had taken its toll. Marinatto was nervous, hot and had few answers.

"April 2010 was a challenge," Marinatto said. "I wasn't sure what we were walking into when we walked into that little room. It was a mine field, everything was so unstable. There was this real sense of fear, really."

He didn't know if his conference would hold together. Remember, this was during the height of conference realignment speculation. Fast forward to Tuesday here at the Big East media day where Marinatto was practically (Charlton) Heston-esque in delivering the conference's new message of optimism and solidarity.

Confident, articulate, proud, a man's man.

The upheaval that was supposed to usher in the era of the super conference was limited to five schools changing leagues this season. The Big East remained untouched; in fact it prospered adding TCU for 2012. There may be more teams on the way.

A combination of factors had Marinatto talking openly this week about further expansion, a possible conference championship game and a rights fee windfall due to hit some time in the next couple of years.

"We're living in a world where you pick up a paper or you're reading your tweets, there's something going on," Marinatto said explaining the Big East's new-found relevance. "You want to make sure you have enough inventory and enough schools. It is about existentialism at some point because you do want to have that security."

That would be the first time any of us have heard a conference commissioner play the "existentialism" card. But a quick check of dictionary.com shows what the commissioner is getting at. One of the definitions for existentialism is, "the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices."

That explains the league's position at the moment. Being the last major conference to renegotiate TV rights in the current rotation, the Big East figures to prosper in a marketplace that is absolutely in love with college football.

Reality TV sells. Sports is the ultimate reality TV because it's, well, genuinely real. Now add the fact that college football is the No. 2 sport in the country behind the NFL. The public wants to see football, it doesn't matter if it's Big East football. The league hasn't exactly been a national contender but in a weird twist has been a postseason success. It has a .615 bowl winning percentage in the BCS era. Despite the lack of a powerhouse, it can now claim seven of the top 14 markets when TCU joins in 2012.

That's part of the reason why Newport was populated with TV types from several networks, at least showing interest in snagging the Big East when its current ESPN expires in 2013 (football) and 2014 (basketball). NBC Comcast, which struck out on the Pac-12, is a player. So is Fox. Conventional thinking has it that current rightsholder ESPN will make a big push.

Point is, there are suitors with deep pockets. Who cares if the league based in the Northeast has extended all the way to Texas.

"If there can be a conference called the Big Ten that can have 12 schools, what's wrong with the Big East having a school in Dallas, Texas?" Marinatto said. "It's a brave new world."

The Big East wasn't such a ravishing beauty 16 months ago. Marinatto was worried that the Big Ten was going to pluck -- take your pick -- Syracuse, Rutgers and/or Pittsburgh. Delany was rattling the Big East's cage, if nothing else, in order to lure Notre Dame to his conference. It didn't work. The most attractive expansion candidate for the Big Ten turned out to be Nebraska.

Marinatto now has several options if his league wants to expand and stage a championship game which he said was "certainly a possibility." Army, Navy, Air Force, Central Florida and Villanova have been mentioned as candidates. Certainly TCU broke the seal for everyone on geographic restrictions.

"It [championship game] would give us more inventory," Marinatto said. "A football championship game maybe in New York City would be phenomenal. If we could ever replicate what we've done in basketball side on the football side in December ... what a phenomenal asset that would be."

How excited is Marinatto?

"We're in a position where, if we do things right, we won't be having this discussion 18 months from now," he said.

That's when TV negotiations begin. Let the deepest pockets win.
Posted on: July 31, 2011 6:53 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 7:49 am
 

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Texas A&M is urging the NCAA to use a 17-year-old rules interpretation that it believes would keep the Longhorn Network from airing high school games.

CBSSports.com obtained documents that show A&M wants TLN classified as an "institutional publication", per bylaw 11.2.3.4, which would make it an "athletics representative of the institution." The 1994 interpretation dealt most mostly with what was, at the time, an explosion among specialty print publications. Several newsletters, magazines and weeklies sprung up in the 1990s that covered individual schools' sports. Several of those publications reported recruiting news in varying degrees as part of their coverage.

They were, in essence, what could interpreted as print versions of what the TLN is attempting to become in 2011. A&M is asking that the NCAA apply that Nov. 1994 ruling -- regarding those print publications -- to video-based publications.

If not, the school said, "the NCAA, in allowing institutions to create video-based publication agreements without any restriction on content, is opening Pandora's box."

A&M even uses a quote Texas AD DeLoss Dodds to drive home its point about TLN being an "athletics representative."

“This is yet another step leading up to our launch which will offer viewers unprecedented access to our sports programs …” Dodds said in a January press release.

All of it means that Monday's Big 12 AD meetings in Dallas to discuss "institutional networks" could be the most significant for the conference in more than a year. During the 2010 spring meetings in Kansas City, the seeds were planted for Nebraska and Colorado to leave the conference. During those meetings, Texas reaffirmed its desire to start a network.

"Our goal is to keep this together," A&M AD Bill Byrne said. "I don't see anything contentious about it."

The league recently agreed to a lucrative 13-year, $1.2 billion deal with Fox for its secondary rights. It figures to score another windfall when its ABC/ESPN rights expire after 2015-16. But cracks already are beginning to appear nationally and in the Big 12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reiterated last week what he told CBSSports.com in May.

" ... It's my view there will be further expansion down the road," Scott said during the Pac-12 media days.

Texas A&M appears to have leverage with a potential move to the SEC. That could lead to a tsunami of conference realignment if other conferences are forced to react within the marketplace.

Texas has long been speculated to become an independent if it isn't happy with the Big 12. (Although it has never been addressed what would happen with Texas' highly-competitive minor sports.) The school came within a heartbeat of joining the Pac-10 in 2010. A portion of Texas' contract with ESPN states that if Texas is not a member of a conference, ESPN would have 60 days to make an exclusive deal for those TV rights. It would have 48 hours to match any competing offer. That information was reported by the Austin American-Statesman after a Freedom of Information request.

Given the potentially shaky Big 12 partnership, a school like Missouri suddenly would have multiple options in perhaps the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, even the Pac-12. There is every indication, though, that the current situation will be resolved. That still doesn't mean the Big 12 is a long-term proposition.

The growing controversy over broadcasting high school games seems to have only two resolutions. Either it will happen or it won't. Texas and ESPN officials have said they are fine if the NCAA restricts the airing of high school games. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has put a moratorium on the practice until the issue is resolved.

Also at issue is Texas' intention to broadcast a conference game on TLN. That raises issues as to whether a conference member would be helping promote the network by its participation.

What you don't hear at the moment is Texas and ESPN backing down on their own on the issue of high school games. Technology, at this point, is moving faster than the NCAA's ability to react to it. Texas' intent to show high school content via broadband distribution and a coming Longhorn application has Texas A&M and others concerned.

Adding to the confusion is that Texas, the Big 12, NCAA and ESPN are all in a symbiotic relationship. Texas is a member of the Big 12 which is a member of the NCAA. All three have financial relationships with media giant ESPN.

Texas and ESPN announced the 20-year, $300 million partnership in January.

The Longhorn Network is the first individual school-centric endeavor on a major network (ESPN). It is launching Aug. 26 but not before having somewhat of a national referendum on the future of such businesses -- and possibly the Big 12 itself.

After a much-hyped, regents meeting earlier this month Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said TLN's intentions create "uncertainty," in the Big 12. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said last week it is "common sense" that Texas not air high school games. While proclaiming solidarity among conference members, commissioner Dan Beebe said, "Any time there is any kind of perceived crack, there's going to be a lot of vultures in the air."

The issue has attracted the attention of the NCAA which has called an Aug. 22 in Indianapolis to discuss the issue. Among those invited include Texas, Notre Dame and the Pac-12. All three have networks or aspirations of forming one.

At issue is whether the ESPN/Texas partnership creates an unfair recruiting advantage. In early June, TLN chief Dave Brown specified in a radio interview that the network intended to show up to 18 high school games as well as travel to other states to show the games of players who had committed to Texas. That's where A&M, and others took notice.

Texas A&M is lobbying the NCAA hard to the point that ruling in favor of Texas "may cause more than simply discussion and consternation among the NCAA membership. It may lead to undesirable developments, a fear of creeping recruiting advantage that compels members to try to create situations for themselves similar to the Longhorn Network ...

" ... then the next step," A&M states to the NCAA, "could easily be an initiative to broadcast nonscholastic events during the otherwise slow collegiate sporting event summer period and it does not take much of an imagination to target men’s and women’s basketball summer tournaments/camps as being of interest to sports fans."

The NCAA already has its hands full with controlling the influence of those non-scholastic events. Basketball is rife with abuses. The association's enforcement department is working diligently trying to control non-scholastic third party influences in football.

College athletics is watching the TLN situation closely. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday that the Big Ten Network is not interested in televising high school games at this time. That could change, he added, the NCAA allows it.

In that case, he said, "we'll probably have to take a look at it."

At the time the original legislation was passed in 1993, 24/7 networks dedicated to one school didn't exist. Texas A&M argued to the NCAA that "the intent and spirit of the rule was that these type of outside/independent entities ... have greater flexibility in conversations with high school-aged individuals ..."

Dodds said Texas would be not involved in selecting high school games to be broadcast.

"We'll just have to let the process work itself out," ESPN's Brown said last week. "We would have liked to have done them [high school games], one game a week, two games a week. If we have to go in another direction we will."

Coach Mack Brown said last week that high school coaches and players would be hurt most through lack of exposure if their games weren't broadcast.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:12 am
 

Longhorn Network resolution could last to August

A decision on The Longhorn Network's now-controversial programming plan is likely to last into August, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told CBSSports.com.

Texas A&M, among others, is concerned about TLN's televising high school games and one conference game this season. Beebe released a statement Thursday saying those plans for the network are on hold until a resolution can be reached.

"We need to construct scenarios where everybody benefits," Beebe said.

All parties are essentially waiting for the NCAA rule on the "legality" of TLN to be able televise those high school games. That would seemingly violate NCAA Bylaw 13.10.3 that prohibits a recruit from appearing on "a program" in which a member institution is "instrumental in arranging for the appearance" for the recruit.

The wording, as usual in the NCAA Manual, is complicated and probably has a lot to do with the issue possibly extending into next month. You can read it here.

Texas likely would prefer that the NCAA become the bad guy in this situation. If the NCAA says no, Texas saves face by having to acquiesce to association rules. If the NCAA rules in favor of Texas, then the issue becomes stickier. A&M released a strongly-worded statement Thursday stating its displeasure with the situation.

There is also concern among conference teams playing Texas on TLN. They would essentially be driving ratings and cable subscriptions for a conference rival. Beebe said that one possible solution could be that the Texas opponent in that case could also show the game on its own "carriage system." (broadband, streaming, etc .)

The issue seemingly will not be resolved next week during the Big 12 media days in Dallas. Not all the athletic directors will be available.
Sources within the Big 12 and ESPN are confident the issue will be resolved without any damage to the current conference structure. Thirteen months after Nebraska and Colorado split off, the Big 12 is still dealing with questions about its stability.

In essence, the televising of high school games on TLN is not a deal breaker for ESPN or Texas. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said he would be comfortable if the NCAA rules prep games cannot be televised.

A&M became further alarmed in early June when TLN chief Dave Brown detailed the high-school plan during an Austin, Texas radio interview.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:26 pm
 

Big 12 in uproar over Longhorn Network

At one point Thursday afternoon, I Tweeted "Big 12 making WAC look stable."

One Big 12 loyalist immediately shot back: "u know something we don't?"

Apparently. Start with the new, 13-month old league looking a lot like the 15-year old previous version of the Big 12 that almost disintegrated last year. It looks just as shaky and twice as disparate. Texas is starting a network on its terms. Everyone else in the Big 12 is having problems with those terms. They include televising high school games and as well as one conference game.

Several issues: Texas A&M, among others, isn't happy with Texas essentially having its own televised recruiting service. That, and conference rivals helping drive ratings and subscribers by playing Texas on its own network.

Commissioner Dan Beebe seemingly had calmed the waters by issuing a Thursday statement saying the issue needed "clarification" and that the league would "manage the interplay". Beebe concluded by saying the pause button had been it on TLN. It could show no more than one game (the opener against Rice) and no high school games until things were sorted out.

I thought these types of conflicts would be avoided for at least a few years. But who knew Texas and ESPN would launch a network without getting these issues resolved with the rest of the Big 12? Or maybe it doesn't matter. It's the other members -- particularly Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State -- who are just happy to be in a BCS conference at this point.

As one executive intimated to me this week: These schools DO understand why the conference stayed together, right?

Answer: Texas.

That kind of gives you a picture of where things stand at the moment. Texas has all the power, as usual. And most of the rest have to take it except for Texas A&M, and perhaps Oklahoma. A&M made it clear to me Wednesday that the administration is upset with comments made by TLN network chief Dave Brown, a long-time power broker in college football for ESPN. 

A&M and OU have some leverage, which translates into jumping to the SEC if pushed too far on this issue. Read this scathing statement from Aggies' AD Bill Byrne.

“I have continued to have concerns about the Longhorn Network since the original announcement by ESPN and Texas. Since last summer, the Big 12 member institutions have committed to work together in a spirit of unity and equality. Recent news reports concerning this network; however, have created a considerable amount of uncertainty.

We had an agreement in place that Big 12 members would have the right to one non-conference football game and four to six basketball games for third tier, or institutional rights. The concept of the Longhorn Network broadcasting two live football games -- with one of these being a conference game -- had not been discussed among the Big 12 athletic directors.

Our concerns were heightened further when news reports surfaced that the Longhorn Network would be broadcasting high school football games featuring Texas high school recruits, including recruits living outside the state of Texas. Knowing how restrictive NCAA rules are regarding any collegiate representative contacting prospects, we contacted the NCAA for an interpretation. We are still waiting for the NCAA's response.

I have continued to communicate our concerns to the conference office and my fellow athletic directors. We are pleased that the Commissioner has started to address these concerns, but many questions remain. These are significant issues for all of collegiate athletics as they relate to broadcast rights, revenue distribution and the recruitment of student-athletes.”


There it is. A&M ain't standing for it and -- best guess -- the SEC would take an Aggie-Sooner package in a heartbeat. That would likely set off a chain reaction of new conference realignment that could lead to the era of super conferences.

What's likely to happen? ESPN isn't going to risk the disintegration of the Big 12 (a partner) to show high school games on TLN (a different, new partner). ESPN made a financial commitment to the Big 12 last year to keep Texas in the fold, if for no other reason than the Horns having a launching pad for that network. Essentially, we're talking about Big 12 game inventory (a lot) being worth more than TLN's (a little) to ESPN.

If the NCAA doesn't rule that the high school games are an unfair recruiting advantage, Texas/ESPN will simply back down and not show them. It's worth it to keep everyone happy. Sources here at the SEC media days told me that the high school programming isn't a huge deal. It would be nice to have on the TLN but its absence is not going to wreck it.

Guess that means more re-runs of the Mack Brown Show. I'm sure A&M will be happy with that.
 
 
 
 
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