Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guesses for 10/8 12 day selections

What is somewhat tricky is the Louisville-UNC game.  When the game was put together to allow Georgia to play in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, it was to be played opening weekend and guaranteed ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 coverage.  When UNC couldn't move or get out of the James Madison game, they had to find another date, but I think the promise of ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 coverage remains.

F/X is confirmed to have a Big 12 game as both Pac-12 selections for FOX have been set for FSN.  Versus has its first Pac-12 in-season pick.

Florida at LSU, 3:30pm

Oklahoma vs. Texas, 12pm (confirmed)
Texas A&M at Texas Tech, 3:30pm (RM)
Iowa at Penn St., 3:30pm (RM)
Miami (FL) at Virginia Tech, 8pm
Ohio St. at Nebraska, 8pm

Illinois at Indiana, 12pm
ABC Reverse Mirror, 3:30pm
Vanderbilt at Alabama, 7:45pm

Louisville at North Carolina, 12pm
Auburn at Arkansas, 7pm

Florida St. at Wake Forest, 12pm
Pittsburgh at Rutgers, 3:30pm
Georgia at Tennessee, 7pm
San Jose St. at BYU, 10:15pm

FOX Sports
Mississippi St. at UAB, 12pm FSN (confirmed)
Arizona St. at Utah, 3:30pm FSN
Boston College at Clemson, 3:30pm ACC RSNs
Iowa St. at Baylor, 7pm FSN
Missouri at Kansas St., 7pm FOX College
Kansas at Oklahoma St, 8pm F/X
Washington St. at UCLA, 10:30pm FSN

Colorado at Stanford, 7:30pm

Minnesota at Purdue, 12pm

Connecticut at West Virginia, 12pm Big East (confirmed)
Kentucky at South Carolina, 12pm SEC
Maryland at Georgia Tech, 12:30pm ACC
Arizona at Oregon St., 7pm FSAZ/ROOT NW

Central Michigan at NC State, 6pm

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thoughts on the off-field crap...

I'm not thrilled with the decision for Syracuse and Pittsburgh to bolt for the ACC.  But I get it.  It's not about the cash.  The ACC will be behind the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-1? in that regard.  It's about stability in a conference when you look at the ACC increasing its exit fee to $20 million.  They made a commitment to each other, compared to the Big East's $5 million exit fee which neither school will have much trouble paying out.

It is an indictment on the leadership of John Marinatto.  I admit that I was willing to give John a chance and the move to invite TCU (which I wasn't in favor of, but accepted) and the feeling that they could do better than the ESPN offer the conference rejected in April, an offer that had a decent increase in rights fee but was dwarfed by both the Big 12's contract from FOX (who knows what is going on there) and the Pac-12's split deals with FOX and ESPN.  You had a feeling that Marinatto wasn't going to be blind to the football side of the house.  And with some of the fracturing going on, you had to wonder if the Big East could be considered in a position of strength.  They had possible flexibility with a free agent like Texas, maybe a travel buddy for TCU, allowing them to keep their Longhorn Network and be a bell cow for the football side.  Something beyond enticing the remnants of a broken conference.

Something happened.  Maybe spurning the ESPN deal neutered that flexibility, where ESPN could have said their offer no longer was in play.  Maybe Marinatto, serving 16 masters today but of different agendas athletically, was pressured to continue to push Villanova as a viable option as a football playing member.  There could have been internal conflict about who he wanted to contact about conference membership and the type of membership (full member, football only, everything but football, financial incentives, etc.) but couldn't get any consensus on what to do.  Maybe the appeal of the left behind members of the Big 12 didn't  appeal to everyone where it might have appealed to Marinatto, or vice-versa.

He didn't hitch his wagon to Texas like Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did, and it appears that Beebe could end up managing a conference where the member with the most stature is Missouri.  Sorry Kansas, football will matter and I saw what Georgia Tech did to you guys, and Louisville might have more overall health as an athletic department than anyone who might remain from the Big 12.  The inability to build consensus and relationships between himself and among other members kept an uneasy alliance...uneasy, and now irreparably broken.

John wasn't given the power that Larry Scott was given by the Pac-10 presidents, to go out and do things for the conference, within committed parameters of revenue sharing.  He could wine and dine Texas & Oklahoma, and while it sounded like he only hit a double with the additions of Colorado & Utah, he used his media connections and savvy to get a massive television rights contract for his members and a very out-of-the-box approach to a conference network.  His lessons learned appears that it will allow him to make another run at Texas & Oklahoma and friends, with parameters that appear to be the consensus of the school presidents.

We know how powerful Jim Delany is and how committed the Big Ten members are to each other, a common agenda in education and athletics.  And we now see that John Swofford was able to maintain a united front in the ACC, one that appealed to two Big East schools and possibly two more in the near future.

Fact is, the appointed leader is only as good as the backing of his constituents, managing those egos and expectations.  In the cases of John Marinatto and Dan Beebe, that backing was missing, their faith was misplaced, vision was shortsighted.  But those same school presidents need to look at what they could have done.  The Big East, as Rick Pitino once said, was a corporation and not a conference.  A governing body not unlike the old ECAC, where many of those founding Big East members came from.  The Big 12 was an uneasy partnership from day one, forged in the purpose of making money from television rights.  Kevin Weiberg knew he couldn't build that consensus while leading the Big 12 and bolted for greener pastures, first at the Big Ten Network and now in the Pac-1? office.

The school presidents' failure to get a strong leader doomed them, but these men were their spokesman, the presenter of their agendas and that speaks volumes about the backbone of many of those presidents.  And that includes Nancy Cantor and Mark Nordenberg.  Their decision to bolt makes sense, but they also need to be accountable for the failure of the Big East to move forward.

Guesses for 10/1 TV Selections

If you are new to this blog, I tend to try to guess which games networks will pick for a given weekend before they make their selections on Monday.  Not keeping score, but I do try to follow each conference's contract rules and make some educated guesses.    Feel free to comment, tell me I'm FOS, ask questions, etc. has the current confirmed games & times.  Click on the Flex Windows on the page to see the timeslots available.

These selections are for October 1st

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, 3:30pm
Alabama at Florida, 8pm

ABC (both 3:30pm games reverse mirrored to ESPN)
Wake Forest at Boston College, 3:30pm 
Michigan St. at Ohio St., 3:30pm 
Nebraska at Wisconsin, 8pm 

Minnesota at Michigan, 12pm
Notre Dame at Purdue, 8pm

Auburn at South Carolina, 12pm
Clemson at Virginia Tech, 6pm

Northwestern at Illinois, 12pm
Idaho at Virginia, 3:30pm
Georgia Tech at NC State, 7pm

FOX Sports
Texas Tech at Kansas, 12pm (FSN special presentation)
Kentucky at LSU, 12pm (SEC RSNs)
Washington at Utah, 3:30pm (FSN)
Bethune-Cookman at Miami (FL), 3:30pm (ACC RSNs)
Iowa St. at Texas, 4pm (F/X)
Baylor at Kansas St., 7pm (FSN)
Arizona at USC, 8pm (F/X)
UCLA at Stanford, 10:30pm (FSN)

Penn St. at Indiana, 12pm

ACC Network
Towson at Maryland, 12:30pm

SEC Network
Mississippi St. at Georgia, 12pm

Buffalo at Tennessee, 12pm (CSS)
Washington St. at Colorado, 7pm (Root Sports NW/Fox College Sports)
Oregon St. at Arizona St., 7pm (Root Sports NW/Fox Sports Arizona)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My View on Realignment

I've tried to stay out of the realignment feeding frenzy.  It isn't my cup of tea.   It hurts my head to try to discuss or think about.  But I do think that some important points need to be brought up.  Some of this might sound reactionary/impulsive based on my team's alliance (Syracuse -> Big East) and I'm not going to apologize for that.  I will incorporate some TV aspects into this

  • The MAC has been running on 13 teams for quite a while and holding a championship game.  No the math does not work out for 13 teams and eight conference games per team, but somehow they've been doing it for a while.  The SEC doesn't have to get to an even number immediately.
  • College presidents run the show and they have great academic credentials.  They need to be mindful of their boosters but also take the big picture into account.  Texas Tech moving to a Pac-16 in theory means they'll get to play USC, but they might only play them once or twice a decade.  No different than negotiating a non-conference series.
  • I wrote this piece on the possibility of a Pac-16 and how it could become unwieldy to negotiate for any TV network.  My position hasn't really changed.
  • As Frank The Tank (see 1st point), then Darren Rovell stated, composition of conference clauses are for the benefit of the TV network, not the conference.  The conference is not guaranteed anything when adding a new member, but the possibility exists when it loses a member that it will lose television money.  The SEC's "look-ins" aren't renegotiation points, they are evaluation points.  Are ESPN and CBS doing a good job?  Does the SEC want more afternoon games?  Can CBS have more games in primetime?  Those are the questions that get asked at a look-in.
  • There are still only 24 hours in a day.   Go ahead and cannibalize the Big East's football conference.  Just be aware that the only things you gain by doing that are several Thursday-Friday night time slots.  Does your conference want to play on those dates?
  • The thing that boggles my mind is that A&M doesn't appear to have made any headway regarding attempting to set up a TV network/digital platform of their own.  They have fought ESPN, and by extension Texas, regarding the Longhorn Network's programming, but outside of a brief note that the head of Fox Sports Southwest is an Aggie alum and would help set up that same platform in the SEC, they don't appear to have done anything towards their own network.  At least we know that Oklahoma and Kansas St. have HD facilities for production.  AD Bill Byrne used to talk about ticket sales being a reason for no games on PPV or Fox College Sports, but Byrne noted that they have sold out their season tickets.
  • I don't pretend to know what did/didn't happen when the Big 12 and FOX negotiated their last contract, but A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was given the power by his own university's trustees to negotiate on behalf of the school.  If you don't like a deal, don't complain when you have the power to change it.