Posted on: June 29, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 12:09 pm
LINCOLN, Neb. -- They call him T-Magic. His coach seemed to call him out last fall in what might have been the turning point in Nebraska's season.
Huskers' quarterback Taylor Martinez said Tuesday that coach Bo Pelini "misunderstood" events surrounding his injuries during a bitter loss to Texas A&M. Martinez went into detail about the contentious situation the night of Nov. 20 in College Station. During that game, Martinez reinjured his right ankle and had to leave early during a 9-6 loss to the Aggies.
That's when controversy sprouted. Back in the lockerroom after being examined, Martinez said he spoke to his father, Casey Martinez, via cell phone during the game.
By the day after on Sunday, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman had criticized Pelini's sideline behavior. The coach had to shoot down rumors that his quarterback had left the team.
What the public saw that night was Pelini berating officials and getting in the face of his quarterback. Martinez had emerged from the lockerroom after treatment early in the game, only to have Pelini poke a finger in his chest on the sideline.
Here's how Martinez saw it:
"I hurt my [left] turf toe then two plays later, that's when our center stepped on me. I went to the sidelines, then went back and got X-rayed. After I got X-rayed, I went back to the lockerroom. I couldn't move at all. It was so painful, my left toe and my right ankle. I was in so much pain. I didn't think I was going back in.
"I was trying to walk to our lockerroom to feel it out. I plugged in my phone for the charger. It was on and it lit up. I saw it. I saw my dad called me. I called him back and told him I didn't think I was going back in. I couldn't move at all. I explained to him what happened."
Martinez did eventually return in the second half but threw for only 107 yards in the game. Nebraska came into the game 9-1 and ranked ninth. It finished the season losing three of its last four, including the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma and the Holiday Bowl to Washington.
Was Martinez surprised how much was made about the night of Nov. 20?
"I was, but people could have their own assumptions of what happened. Maybe they don't think it's a correct thing, that what I did was call my dad and let him know what happened. I got turf toe and he didn't know about that. He actually thought I tore my ACL or broke my femur or whatever. He was concerned like any other father would be."
So he called you. Was he just taking a shot and hoping you'd answer the phone?
"Yeah. He knew I went to the lockerroom. I thought I was done. I didn't think I'd be able to go back in. I knew it was him who was calling. I explained to him what happened. The trainer was next to me ...
"Coach Pelini misunderstood what one of the trainers told him [about] what was going on. That's when Coach Pelini came over and talked to me about it. He was heated because of everything going on, everything going on in the game."
These are revealing comments from the rising redshirt sophomore known for his aversion to media. Maybe it's because it was the offseason and he was relaxing on his turf in the Nebraska athletic offices. Maybe Martinez is opening up. Maybe this means Nebraska is getting the leader it desperately needs at quarterback. Backup Cody Green left the team in the offseason.
Whatever the case, Big Red Nation is agonizing over which Martinez shows up this season, the Huskers' first in the Big Ten. The Good T-Magic looked like a Heisman candidate during the first half of 2010. After the injuries, the Bad T-Magic lost mobility and effectiveness.
"It [injuries] pretty much changed everything," Martinez said. "I was pretty much playing on one foot. You can't move. I think Tom Osborne said it's like Peyton Manning breaking his arm, comparing me with my ankle."
Martinez said both the turf toe and ankle will be 100 percent going into the season. Pelini is expected back in the office this week after taking some time off.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 9:32 am
Wisconsin just became the Big Ten favorite because of the biggest free-agent acquisition, maybe, in history. In the history of college football, that is. Sorry, Jeremiah Masoli.
--Ohio State, you might have heard, is dealing with a few problems.
--No one is really sure about the Nebraska offense.
--I want to believe in Michigan State but until the Spartans do it -- go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988 -- they are suspect.
With the addition of Wilson, Wisconsin is now, officially, loaded. He gives the Badgers something that they have lacked for years -- a playmaker at quarterback. I know, I know, Scott Tolzien wasn't bad, but he's also gone.
Without him, Bret Bielema faced a familiar problem -- game-planning around the quarterback. Now he goes into games calling plays because of the quarterback.
Let's not stop there. With Wilson, the Badgers could compete for the national championship if everything falls right. Sure, the Badgers lost an Outland Trophy winner in the offensive line (Gabe Carimi) and J.J. Watt in the defensive line, but if there are two things Madison is good at they are beer and linemen.
Am I gushing? I can't help it. One of my lasting visions from the 2010 season was Wisconsin pounding TCU's defense in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl. Now, add an accurate arm and fast feet to that scene. Give the Frogs credit for bouncing back, but this is going to be a different Badgers' offense with Wilson. I also remember last year at this time when Wilson went 250 days without football-related activity before the 2010 season. It didn't seem to hurt the Pack who won nine games for the first time since 2002.
Wisconsin gets a smart, polished quarterback who once threw 379 attempts without an interception. Perhaps most impressive: Wilson's 3,563 passing yards and 28 touchdowns not only led the ACC, it would have led the Big Ten.
If the kid truly wants to concentrate on football now -- which seems to be the case -- then he's at the right place with Wisconsin's pro-styleish offense. If nothing else happens, Wisconsin will have the deadliest play-action passing game in the country.
This is not Masoli II. Wilson will make a massive impact because he will be asked to do less in Wisconsin's offense. He is not a Cam Newton-like runner (who is?) but Wilson has enough mobility to make defenses account for him. Auburn never would have worked for Wilson because he plays too much like Newton.
I had to chuckle at Bielema's official statement. Wilson will "compete" for the starting quarterback position. You don't transfer -- and Wisconsin doesn't accept you -- if a quarterback controversy is about to break out.
The only thing that stops Wilson from becoming the Badgers' quarterback is a late hit from one of his teammates. So far, he's been pretty good at dodging those in live action. I like his chances of staying healthy and leading the Big Ten (ahem, 12) to its second straight Rose Bowl. At least.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 6:38 pm
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The Pac-12's financial momentum isn't about to slow.
Commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday that the league's media arm could earn the conference an additional $1 billion over a seven-to-10 period. The previously announced Pac-12 Media Enterprises is a kind of holding company, according to Scott, that would bundle the league's new network, the digital rights and the conference's sponsorship and licensing (Pac-12 Properties).
The expanded conference is just beginning to realize its total worth as it seeks to start its own network. The $1 billion would be separate from the 12-year, $3 billion rights fees deal the Pac -12 finalized with ESPN and Fox earlier this month.
"I can tell you this, based on offers people have made to us we've got at least a billion-dollar business we're sitting on," Scott told CBSSports.com. "That's just Pac-12 Media Enterprises."
He later added: "That is a broad figure that has been thrown out to us by media investors. That's a potential minimum value over a seven-to-10 year period."
Dividing $1 billion among 12 schools could mean an additional $83 million is gross revenue total per school. Depending the on length of the deal, that means Pac-12 Media Enterprises alone could produce an additional $8.3 million-$11.9 million per year for each school. The schools already are guaranteed an average of $21 million per school in the ESPN-Fox deal.
Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby seemed to confirm another pending windfall for the conference telling CBSSports.com that the network and digital rights "may be worth well into eight figures per year." He added, "Time will tell on that. We may know something in the next 90 days."
Scott called Pac-12 Media Enterprises a "for-profit subsidiary of the conference."
"I'm not running from it," he added, "but I don't want to leave the impression that our primary focus is financial."
Scott, as well as industry insiders, is anxious to see the possibilities of the conference's network. The commissioner consulted with -- and gives a lot of credit to -- his peers at the Big Ten and SEC (Jim Delany and Mike Slive) who previously started similar ventures. All parties know the road to network profitability can be a long, hard slog. It took the Big Ten more than two years to realize a profit with its network. That was relatively fast for a start-up but no one knew in the beginning when that profit would come.
The Pac-12 is seemingly better positioned because Scott negotiated rights to first-tier games in football and basketball for his network. In other words, the Pac-12 Network (or whatever it is called) will have first choice of the best games for its air.
That situation will help with potential partners, distributors and advertisers. Scott said the league is still deciding how to deploy the network. First reports were that the Pac-12 would own it alone. That approach would maximize profits instead of having to share them with a partner. But Scott said several business models are still on the table.
Scott even foresees a situation where the Pac-12 Network could be shown on an existing channel. He used the example of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) replacing what used to be Discovery Health.
The digital possibilities, he continues to say, are limitless. There are 2,700 Pac-12 "events" available for broadcast each year according to Pac-12 TV consultant Chris Bevilacqua. To date, only 131 of those have been sold. Scott wants Pac-12 content on every device imaginable. There already have been discussions with Google as a possible partner.
"It's hard to imagine now but I wouldn't be surprised that five-to-seven years from now we've got more fans on different devices other than TVs," Scott said.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 7:59 pm
Kevin Weiberg will not be the next executive director of the Fiesta Bowl CBSSports.com has learned.
The Pac-12 deputy commissioner and CEO was thought to be the favorite for the job that opened when John Junker was fired in March after a scandal that resulted in the bowl nearly being expelled from the BCS.
CBSSports.com reported on April 28 that the names of Weiberg, WAC commissioner Karl Benson and Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli had emerged in the search. Weiberg, 54, told CBSSports.com Tuesday that he was happy with his job. He is currently involved helping set up the conference's new network. The Fiesta expressed interest in interviewing Weiberg. The process was far from a formal job offer.
Earlier this month, the BCS fined the Fiesta $1 million for a lack of oversight during the scandal. The Fiesta was conditionally allowed to stay in the BCS. One of those conditions was that the bowl must consult with the BCS on the hiring of a new executive director.
Weiberg is a former Big Ten deputy commissioner who helped set up the conference's network. From 1998-2007 he was Big 12 commissioner. He resigned shortly after conference officials didn't follow his suggestion to consider starting a Big 12 network.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 3:34 pm
Mark Emmert just hit it out of the park in terms of shoving it back in the Department of Justice's face.
In the NCAA president's answer to the DOJ Wednesday regarding the BCS, he essentially said, "Don't blame me, I just work here."
Or, if you want it verbatim: "... It is not appropriate for me to provide views on [football's postseason]. With regard to the Association's plans for [a playoff], there are no plans absent direction from our membership to do so."
Everybody satisfied? The NCAA has little to do with major college football's postseason. What control it does have is minimal. A few of my peers had kittens when DOJ sent the letter to Emmert, like this was some sort of end of the BCS.
Me? I was surprised that the DOJ shook its finger at Emmert when it should have contacted the BCS initially in the first place. To me, it kind of shows how clueless DOJ is at this point. They're not even asking the right questions of the right people in a possible anti-trust investigation.
Wednesday's letter basically tipped the leverage back in the BCS' favor. The system's power brokers are on record as saying they'll go back to the bowl system before installing a playoff. In short, Wednesday's developments can be summarized in these possible quotations ...
Emmert: The membership doesn't want a playoff.
The BCS: You can't make us have a playoff.
Big Ten commish Jim Delany basically said as much when he told USA Today, "There's no judge or jury in the world that can make you enter into an four-team, eight-team or 16-team playoff."
That's good enough for me. It's OK for you not to hate the BCS, but don't look for the DOJ to install a playoff. It isn't going to happen.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:19 am
Dave Parry confided in me that he had Parkinson's a few months ago. That seemingly would make me a trusted friend except that's how Dave was with everyone.
He loved to talk, about officiating, about football, about you. It didn't matter. To him Parkinson's was not a deal breaker. Sure, it had caused him to step down as NCAA's national coordinator of officiating. Before that, he had been the respected Big Ten supervisor of officials. But even in his retirement, I had looked forward to speaking to him soon about officiating issues.
That won't happen after Parry died Monday due to complications from Parkinson's. At 76, he was taken from us much too soon. A lot of folks lost a dear friend, but football fans also lost a lot of knowledge. With the Big Ten, Parry was on the cutting edge of implementing instant replay a few years ago. His knowledge of the rules was Google-like. He was a college official for 20 years, an NFL official for 16 years.
According to this story, Parry got his start in officiating to earn pocket money. That turned into a lifelong passion. As a coordinator/supervisor Dave was unfailingly honest to the point of sometimes questioning officials themselves.
The best thing that can be said about Dave was that he was one of those guys who was friends with everybody. I loved talking to him because I realized I loved Dave. Here is the story that resulted from one of the last times we spoke.
Here is his obit.
Rest in peace, my friend. We will miss you.
Posted on: May 8, 2011 5:45 pm
Proving once again there are no offseasons ever in any sport, these bombs dropped during my vacation last week. Each one deserves a response from this space's department of justice ...
The Bomb: Pac-12 agrees to a 12-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.
The Response: The first thing that came to mind: Larry Scott is gold. The commissioner was hired to drag the sleepy Pac-10 out of its past and rocket it toward a lucrative future. In less than two years, he delivered big time. As of right now, Scott can pretty much write his own ticket as a sports CEO. I'm talking about commissioner of baseball, the NFL, head of the U.S. Olympics, maybe even the next president of the NCAA. (More on that later in the week).
Scott delivered because these commissioner jobs have evolved into giant fundraising endeavors. Sure, every once in a while a commish has to suspend or fine someone but that's small stuff. The commissioners' mandate from the presidents they serve is to make as much money as possible for the schools. Mike Slive and Jim Delany, two powerful guys with powerful NCAA backgrounds, had been the best at it -- until now. In less than two years Scott reshaped and repackaged his conference in such a way that it became the most lucrative league television property in history. Remember, this is a guy who sees profit centers in China for UCLA gear.
The question now becomes what the Pac-12 schools do with their windfall. You can be sure that most of it won't be spent adding sports. There's a reason that only 10 or so schools out of 120 in I-A are turning a profit. The cash will go to the bottom line -- existing facilities, recruiting and coaching salaries. Adding non-revenue sports adds nothing to the bottom line.
In other words, the Pac-12 just became a player for the likes of Urban Meyer. I'm not saying Meyer will be hired in the Pac-12, I’m saying that the Pac-12 can now afford coaches of his stature. UCLA, not exactly Fort Knox when it comes to paying coaches, now has the ability, if it chooses, to pay Meyer if it fires Rick Neuheisel. The question is not whether it will, the reality is that it can make that call without getting hung up on.
The Bomb: The Department of Justice writes the NCAA and asks, "What's up?" about a playoff.
The Response: First, I'm not even sure Justice sent the letter to the right person. Mark Emmert and the NCAA he oversees has minimal control over college football in general and almost none over postseason football. Emmert's answer should be short and to the point: The reason we don't have a playoff is because the membership doesn't want it.
Never mind that the NCAA technically isn't responsible, the commissioners seemingly have a way of diffusing any coming legal challenge.
"We never could have believed the regular season would have grown over the last 15 years like it has grown," said Delany, the Big Ten commissioner. "I think that's due, in part, to the BCS. We did what we set out to do, which is [stage] a 1-2 game, preserve the bowl system and grow the regular season ... We feel like we're on good [legal] ground. We never know about what a judge or jury could do, [but] we feel like we've got good representation."
I talked to noted anti-trust attorney Tom Rhodes about this issue last week. He isn't concerned for the BCS, calling the letter a political issue, not a legal issue, adding that assistant attorney general Christine Varney's interest is a "war dance" not a "war." Rhodes also intimates that Justice is a political animal that serves a president who made populist statements about a playoff while trying to get elected.
"It's important to understand what the letter does not say," Rhodes told me. "It doesn't say, 'You're in violation of the anti-trust laws.' ... Second thing is, if she [Varney] thought she had a case she wanted to bring she'd have brought it already. The third observation I would make is that the Department of Justice often has to be responsive to the political realities of the world. A political reality here is [Republican Utah Senator] Orrin Hatch is important to the administration.
Hatch has been a constant critic of the BCS but you wonder who his constituency is at this point. Utah is now in the BCS club. BYU, by its own choosing, went independent electing to join Navy and Army in having the worst BCS access in I-A. Those three schools will be considered if any finish in the top 14 of the BCS, but they are assured of a BCS berth only if they finish 1 or 2 in the final standings.
"People who are going to go to war usually don't spend a bunch of time jumping up and down with a war dance," Rhodes added. "This letter is consistent with the idea that Justice can do a war dance and if the BCS then makes a change, the [Obama] administration can claim, 'Look what we've done.' "
Think of it this way: The BCS has been called in for questioning but no one is ready to make an arrest.
The Bomb: Ohio State will investigate the sale of cars to Buckeye players and their relatives at two local dealerships.
The Response: I think I speak for everyone when I say there are few people in this world more trustworthy than used-car salesmen. Yeah, right. Those 14 magic words have, at some point, rung in all of our ears: "What's it going to take for me to put you in this car today?"
Next thing you know you're meeting the finance manager and making chit chat about how much you make a year. Having jaw surgery is more pleasant. Yep, something smells about the school now investigating 50 sales to determine whether players or relatives received price breaks (translation: extra benefits). My dad was a car salesman. Never once did he mention that cash-poor college kids were an untapped customer base.
So now the case goes to the Ohio State compliance department which is the collegiate equivalent of those used-car salesmen. This is the crack group that forgot to tell the Buckeye Five that selling their gear to a tattoo-parlor owner was against the rules. This is the sharp-minded department that decided to check Jim Tressel's computer after it was way too late. Yep, they're the ones you want searching for the truth with the program potentially eligible for the death penalty.
"I have nothing to believe a violation has occurred," Doug Archie, head of Ohio State compliance, told the Columbus Dispatch.
Sorry, but we've heard it before: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
If this case has legs -- or rather, keys -- greasy car salesmen will be the least of Gene Smith's problems. Ohio State could be looking at lack of institutional control and a postseason ban, two penalties it has so-far dodged. But, damn, the Buckeyes will still have a badass set of wheels.
Posted on: April 15, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 6:35 pm
Through an epic financial collapse, through historic scandals, despite the confounding BCS, college sports have prospered in this age.
Television and the accompanying platforms -- phones, internet and cable -- have followed along.
Wednesday's announcement that the Big 12 was the latest conference to hit the rights fees jackpot raised the question again. Why? Why are media companies in these tough times willing and able to pay out the wazoo for properties that, in this case, include outposts in Ames, Iowa; Waco, Texas and Manhattan, Kan.
What I'll try to do here is explain why we are witnessing an unprecedented growth in right fees -- and subsequently college revenue. The growth outstrips even that of the nation's highest paying coaches. For example, if Nick Saban had enjoyed a raise parallel to the Big 12's windfall, his salary would have jumped from $4 million to near $16 million per year.
So why is this happening? One industry analyst summed it up this way: "There is a value to limiting uncertainty." Sports have become one of the safest and highest-grossing buys for media companies. There are no coked-up, petulant stars to deal with. Well, at least not a lot of them. The only "winning" is done on the field. Sports are somewhat cheap to produce. Sports are true reality television, almost immune to being DVRed. Advertisers love that. There is a built-in following whose interest doesn't wane with time. Even the strongest TV series are cancelled. Try taking Alabama-Auburn off the air.
Since the advent of TV, sports have become the foundation of the medium -- largely immune to viewer trends or changing mores. College sports, in the last 25 years, have taken it to a new level.
"I think we're all making a bet on the future where we believe that college sports and sports in general is one of the leading lights generating large audiences," said Randy Freer, Fox Sports Networks president.
The biggest reason for these increases is competition. Simple supply and demand. There aren't many college sports properties available in coming years. Until 2013, it's basically the Pac-12 and NHL rights that are going to be available on the market. Newbies such as NBCUniversal and Turner are showing a willingness to get into sports in a big way.
That's why the Big 12 hit it big on Wednesday. That's why the Pac-12 could hit it even bigger next year (See below).
The SEC and Big Ten have set the bar, for now. Those conferences' schools each earn approximately $22 million per year, give or take. The SEC finalized a 15-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS a couple of years ago. The Big Ten is in the middle of a 20-year deal, partnering with News Corp. (parent of Fox) to produce the Big Ten Network in a deal that could be worth $2.8 billion. That's without mentioning the Big Ten's primary deal with ABC/ESPN. Seeing what the Big Ten had done with its network, ESPN moved to get the SEC using its multiple platforms as the equivalent to a "network."
CBS has the SEC's over-the-air rights.
The Big Ten and SEC have the most rabid following and/or are in the biggest markets. But in the last year, even the ACC doubled its annual rights fees to $155 million per year in a new deal with ESPN for the next 12 years. Because the ACC has become a diminished league in both main sports (football and basketball) since expansion, there was natural wonder why ESPN would pony up so much cash. It is essentially paying for Florida State and Miami on the come -- both have slumped since expansion -- and a couple of North Carolina-Duke basketball games every season.
Once again: supply and demand. Fox finished a close second and had all that money available for the Big 12.
The league got a 350 percent increase for its secondary rights with Fox (an average of $90 million annually). That's after losing Nebraska and Colorado in last year's conference realignment.
This is where it gets complicated. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was the wild card almost convincing Texas and five other Big 12 schools to join his league last year. When it became clear that Scott was serious, Fox and ESPN stepped in to make financial promises. Fox delivered what you saw happen this week, but at the time that's all it was -- a promise. ESPN did not alter its existing contract, despite the loss of the two schools, as a show of good faith.
In the end, Fox and ESPN had to make those promises. Neither could afford for the Big 12 to go away. That would have eliminated one BCS conference that accounts for 16 percent of the households in the middle of the country. With the Pac-10 going out to bid on its latest rights fees -- which it officially did on April 1 -- there was a chance that both ESPN and Fox would have been shut out of two BCS leagues.
That's a lot inventory (games) and advertising that would have disappeared into the ether. Desperation had literally set in. Cable giant Comcast, which recently bought NBC, was taking over the Rockets and Astros telecasts in Houston. Fox had to have a presence in Texas. Houston is the largest market in the state and a top five or six market in the country.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe got a lot of credit this week for "saving" the Big 12 that almost fallen apart 10 months ago. What's more likely is that Beebe happened to be the man in charge when these market forces collided. He gets credit for guiding the ship through choppy waters, but the ship was going to sail on after Texas re-committed to the Big 12 no matter who was in charge.
In short: Texas knew how the episode was going to end before it started. Yes, the school is that flush with cash, power and influence. It came through a rocky period with more money, a leaner, meaner conference and its own network (Longhorn Network).
"Obviously, Fox decided [they'd] rather have a piece of both these leagues than leave one die," said an industry analyst.
The latest round of conference realignment proved that it's less about what league you're in and more about who's your television partner. Utah happened to be in the right place and the right time when Scott's power play failed. It then received a life-changing invite from the Pac-10. The Big East was suddenly willing to fly halfway across the country to invite TCU. Its teams begin flying halfway across the country to play games against the Horned Frogs in 2012.
Did Fox overpay for the Big 12? It's likely. But it wouldn't be the first time for a rightsholder. Part of eliminating that uncertainty sometimes is paying more for something than it is worth. The length of the deals keeps leagues out of the market for long periods of time. And what most analyses haven't included is that virtually all these deals are backloaded. While Big 12 schools will receive an average of $9 million per year from Fox, a large portion of that money will be owed toward the end of the 13-year deal.
That's the reason you saw CBS have to reach out to Turner to share the rights for the NCAA tournament beginning this year. Industry sources have indicated that the back end of the deal was getting too expensive.
League rights fees are unique in that there are only a finite number of big-time conferences/leagues out there. The Big 12 deal was no doubt helped by the fact that the only other major conferences opening up in upcoming years are the Pac-12 (2012) and Big East (2013). There is already speculation that the Pac-12 may meet or surpass SEC/Big Ten numbers. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the league is seeking $220 million per year for its new deal. That's $18.3 million per year per school for you non-math majors.
Colorado and Utah brought little value to the Pac-10 in the big picture. But expanding allowed the league to stage a conference championship game beginning this season. Fox paid $25 million in a one-year deal to telecast the first Pac-12 title game in 2011. That's $2.5 million per team that the conference never had. Scott also is reportedly determined to launch a conference network along the lines of the Big Ten. That would be more found money for the once-sleepy league. NBCUniversal, Fox and either ESPN or Turner (perhaps both) are said to be interested.
All this further explains what happened to the Big 12 and what is about to happen to the Pac-12. Texas and California are still among the most valued television markets. The two leagues combined have Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. That starts to explain why the leagues almost go together.
College sports are undervalued: Delany began realizing that fact in the last decade. Even though ESPN was featuring his league, he felt there was more potential. The Big Ten has a large, passionate fan base (25 percent of the U.S. population). After a long, expensive fight, the Big Ten Network gained a foothold with cables systems. Salesmen literally had to go to from cable company to cable company to sell something that had never been tried before.
"We were on ESPN for 10 years but they weren't being very aggressive with us," Delany said more than a year ago when it was becoming evident that the BTN was turning the corner.
Now network has become must-see viewing for those rabid Big Ten fans find who find the league's second- and third-level football and basketball games. Its original programming is slick and engaging. Now the Big 12 and Pac-12 want to follow in Delany's network footsteps.
Pay TV is blowing up: Those high cable bills you pay? Thank what are called "sub fees" -- subscription fees for cable networks. ESPN is at the top of the heap getting approximately $5 per subscriber per month. By comparison, The Big Ten Network, outside of its natural footprint, reportedly gets a dime per subscriber.
Any kind of programming that increases those sub fees is attractive to a network. In the new deal, Fox is dumping a lot of Big 12 content on FX. The network has been the home of several successful drama series, but sports are seen as a way to make it more valuable. Let's say FX gets 15 cents per month in sub fees. Let's also say that the addition of Big 12 sports bumps that fee up to 22 cents. That's seven cents X 100 million FX households which equals $7 million per month. Multiply that by 12 months and you've got an extra $84 million per year on FX alone.
Cable operators are willing to charge it because viewers demand it. That's why niche networks like the Golf Channel, Comedy Central and Nat Geo are successful. Cable TV is able to reach specific audiences -- and their money.
Televised sports are a leader in technology: Sports have pushed along the development of both cell phone technology as well as HD and 3D.
A friend was getting a game on his phone recently. He was driving so he couldn't watch it, but he turned up the telecast so he could hear it. Without new technology that wouldn't be possible.
The next wave is Internet TV. Delany saw that wave coming approximately 13 years ago. That's a big reason he wanted to create the Big Ten Network. So-called "convergence" technology will allow us to watch from our computers, our phones, our IPads as well as enhanced televisions. Imagine having a spreadsheet for work open in one corner of your TV and the NCAA tournament in other portion of the screen.
Some of this is already hitting the market -- MLB.TV, ESPN3, March Madness On Demand. It's coming and we're all going to want it. That's how conferences will make and their rights holders will pay even more money.