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Rivals, ESPN Already Adjusting Their Recruiting Rankings

rankingsThe gurus at Rivals.com and ESPN are adjusting their recruiting rankings on the fly today.  Currently, the two groups top 10 lists are as follows…

 

Rivals.com

1.  Alabama

2.  Ohio State

3.  Florida State

4.  Tennessee

5.  Texas A&M

6.  LSU

7.  Florida

8.  Notre Dame

9.  Auburn

10.  Miami

 

ESPN

1.  Alabama

2.  Texas A&M

3.  LSU

4.  Florida State

5.  Tennessee

6.  Ohio State

7.  Florida

8.  Miami

9.  Auburn

10.  Georgia

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Missouri Prez: “We Can Never Let This Happen Again”

gfx-they-said-it4Last Friday, ESPN reported that former Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2010 by members of the Tiger football team.  Missouri officials apparently only learned of the assault after Menu Courey’s 2011 suicide.  But they did not turn over any information to the police until a day after ESPN’s story ran.

This week, UM officials have called for an independent investigation into who knew what, when they knew it, and why they didn’t share what that information with the proper authorities.  Yesterday, Missouri president Tim Wolfe met with reporters saying:

 

“It’s unfortunately a tragic situation that’s kind of personal to me because I’m a parent of a female freshman student-athlete myself.  What’s important to us at the University of Missouri is the safety of our students.  We take this very seriously.

What I feel as a parent is one of the our students is dead.  And I don’t want to feel that anymore.  Our goal is help Sashas of the world and try to give them the necessary mental health support or whatever support they need, for any of our students, in a way that we can never let this happen again.”

 

Menu Courey was being treated for borderline personality disorder when she committed suicide.

Wolfe said the independent counsel hired to investigate the matter will have “free rein” to dig into any area deemed necessary.  Hiring outsiders to do independent investigations can be dirty business.  Ask Penn State.

Hopefully Missouri’s counsel will not find that anyone in the athletic department or football program knew of the alleged assault on Menu Courey.  Because if someone did know and that person did nothing about it… it could mean major problems for Mizzou athletics.

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SEC Headlines 1/26/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Alleged rape at Missouri reportedly involving members of the football team in 2010 gets spotlight treatment on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”

2. Missouri responds with a statement and a critique: “It is important to point out this type of skewed and flawed reporting because it is dangerous.” ESPN responds to the response.

3. Former Auburn All-American Tracy Rocker will be the new defensive line coach at Georgia.

4. LSU special teams coach Thomas McGaughey is reportedly a candidate for the special teams coordinator job with the New York Jets.

5. Former LSU assistant Greg Studrawa is now the offensive line coach at Maryland.

6. Kentucky tight ends coach Vince Morrow gets raise and contract extension.  Has been an ace recruiter for coach Mark Stoops.

7. Why Vanderbilt fans want to brush off former coach James Franklin.

8. New Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell spent the past six years in the NFL including a stint with the Houston Texans: “He helped Matt Schaub make the Pro Bowl in 2012…”

9.  What does Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall have to do to earn a little respect?

10. Lou Holtz on his South Carolina legacy: ”We put the thing on a foundation, I felt, and we did a good job in that area,”

11.  Profile of Missouri strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey -voted Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by his peers earlier this month.

12. Auburn strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell knows the demands the hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

SEC/NFL

13. Dee Ford’s NFL stock is rapidly rising.  Former Auburn defense end named MVP of Reese’s Senior Bowl. South wins the game 20-10.

14. ESPN names the SEC 2013 Super Seniors - a list that includes Ford and teammate Chris Davis.

SEC/College News

15. Next meeting of the new College Football Playoff selection committee will be in April. Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long on the group’s progress: ”As you might expect, with the quality of people in that room, it’s been great.”

16. Ron Morris on the “little secret that many head coaches choose to ignore when they talk about how college athletes live in virtual poverty…”

SEC Basketball

17. Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson and Mississippi State coach Rick Ray exchange words at the end of the game Saturday.

18. Missouri’s Jabari Brown has scored at least 22 points in four straight games - now leads the SEC in scoring at 19.5 points per game.

19. With games against Arkansas, Kentucky and Florida - Missouri about to embark on toughest stretch of its schedule.

20. Florida may not have super stars but it does have balance.  Coach Billy Donovan: “I think it’s critical. You want four to six guys in double figures.”

21. Snow and freezing temperatures can’t keep Kentucky fans away from Rupp Arena.  Announced attendance Saturday -  23,367.

Extra

22. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston - potential closer on the Florida State baseball team?

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SEC Headlines 1/25/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Report: Former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker is visiting Alabama this weekend.

2. Vanderbilt confirms the hiring of seven assistant coaches to new coach Derek Mason.  Five former Vanderbilt commitments have flipped to Penn State.

3. Penn State paid Vanderbilt $1.5 million to buy out James Franklin’s contract.

4. Who did Georgia consider besides Jeremy Pruitt for its defensive coordinator position? Mark Richt’s other phone call wasn’t to Kirby Smart - but to Vance Joseph.

5. Georgia makes official the hiring of Kevin Scherrer as a “defensive assistant” coach.

6. Thursday night or Saturday for Auburn and Kansas State in September?  Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs: ”It’s really their decision, because it’s their home game.”

7. ESPN poll shows fans expect Florida to be the most improved team in 2014. Tennessee came in second.

8. Derrick Henry’s breakout performance in the Sugar Bowl means Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon will have competition for carries this fall.

9. After three straight Top 10 seasons, what’s the key for 2014 at South Carolina?  Steve Spurrier: “Just keep doing what we’ve been doing,”

10. Why is Jadeveon Clowney’s agent in a battle with a South Carolina sub shop?

SEC Media

11. ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” will feature a report Sunday about an alleged rape at Missouri in 2010 involving a swimmer and members of the football team.  The swim team member, Sasha Menu Courey, committed suicide in 2011. School says it has no basis to investigate.

Extra

12. Senior Bowl this afternoon in Mobile.  The game has featured an average of 10 first-round NFL picks the last nine years.

13. ESPN’s secret weapon - ESPN3.

14. What exactly are high school “cheerlebrities”?

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Auburn, K-State Waiting For ESPN To Schedule Football Game; Situation Brings Up New Issue

espnIn the latest installment of “ESPN Runs The World,” Auburn and Kansas State are still waiting to write their September football game into their schedules in pen.  For now, the actual date of the game is in pencil because ESPN hasn’t decided whether it will be played on Saturday, September 20th or moved to Thursday, September 18th.

Auburn AD Jay Jacobs says his school’s fine with moving the road game to Thursday night.  Kansas State AD John Currie says the four-letter network had better make a decision soon or else his school will lock it in as a Saturday battle:

 

“If they (ESPN) can get done what they need to get done and move everything around, the game will be played on Thursday.  But I have also told them we need to know so our people can make plans.  If we go along too long and they can’t resolve it, we will just set the game on Saturday and move on.”

 

This situation brings to mind a new issue ESPN will face in the fall.  When the Longhorn Network was launched two year ago, Texas’ opponents immediately voiced displeasure with the fact that they would have to receive the Longhorn Network just to see their own school play ball.

The SEC Network launches this August.  The league plans on airing three games per day on the channel.  That will require — especially early in the season — a lot of the fans of non-conference SEC foes to have the SEC Network (or perhaps an ESPN pay-per-view package through their cable/satellite provider).

For ESPN and the SEC, they want the new network to be carried nationally anyway, so this would be a win for them.  But you can expect to hear a few grumbles from the fans of SEC opponents when their games are schedulee for the infant network… before all potential providers have signed on to carry it.

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Musburger To The SEC Network? A Good Move That May Not Come To Pass

August 2006, Windsor, CT -- Play-by-play commentator Brent MusburgerOK, let’s get this out of the way.  Nobody likes Brent Musburger.  That’s not really his fault because we live in an age when nobody really likes anyone.  Check out Twitter during the broadcast of any major sporting event and you’ll find a torrent of insults and jokes all aimed at the person behind the big game mic.

That said, Musburger is a name.  A top name.  He’s witnessed and covered more major sporting events than anyone reading this post can even list.  Toward the end of his career, yes.  But he’s still got some clout to offer.

Earlier this month it was reported that ESPN would move the broadcasting legend from its A-team on ESPN/ABC and slide him into the #1 announcer’s role on the new SEC Network.  Here’s hoping he takes the job as the SEC could get a lot worse.  SI.com’s Richard Deitsch reported over the weekend, however, that Musburger might not accept ESPN’s demotion:

 

“As first reported by James Andrew Miller, Musburger has been offered the job of lead college football announcer for the upcoming SEC Network, which debuts at the end of August.  It is unclear whether Musburger will take that offer, as some source I spoke with noted he is unhappy with how the process is shaking out.  What seems clear is that Musburger is being pulled from the lead announcer spot for ABC’s Saturday Night Football, which is ESPNs top game each week.”

 

Musburger, according to ESPN, isn’t doing any interviews on the subject.

Whether he’s still at the top of his 1980s game isn’t up for debate.  We get that.  But his name and voice alone would add some much needed heft to the new network’s lineup.  Tim Tebow has been hired as an on-set analyst, but as likable as he is it’s hard to imagine him providing any critical comments.  Ever.  In other words, Tebow will probably be  Grudenian in his praise of every team, every coach and every player.  Tebow’s hire feels more like a gimmick than a true attempt to create quality content (and that’s not a knock on Tebow).

Musburger is for many folks the voice of the Rose Bowl and the BCS Championship Game.  Having as your top voice the man who called the last national championship game adds some gravitas to SEC Network broadcasts in Year One.

The trouble for the network — at least at start up — is that it will be a “step-up” spot for ESPNs current B-team analysts.  Joe Tessitore, for example, was the first major player to be added to the network.  Tessitore does fine work and will in time likely make an excellent front-person for the new channel.  But if the names and faces were not shown and 10 different ESPN voices were run back-to-back could you immediately say, “Tessitore!”

Doubtful.

But Musburger has exactly that kind of voice.

If the soon-to-be 75-year-old from Up North would make like many retirees and agree to spend one or two golden years in the Sun Belt, it would be a nice win for the SEC Network.  Like him or not, Musburger adds clout.  And a first-year channel needs as much clout as it can get.

 

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A Second Carrier Is Set To Come On Board As SEC/ESPN Charge Big For SEC Network

sec espn network logoSince the SEC and ESPN officially announced the creation of an SEC Network (that will launch in August), we’ve warned that you, the fan, will likely be caught in the middle of a lengthy crossfire.  ESPN and the SEC were expected to charge cable and satellite providers big bucks to air their new channel.  Those providers would not want to pay for yet another sports network.  And that would leave you to “call your local cable operator” and demand your SEC Network.

While we still expect some of these carriage deals to go right down to the wire (and possibly past it), there is some good news on the provider front… even as the SEC and ESPN set prices very high.

The Sports Business Daily reported yesterday that providers in the 11-state SEC footprint are being asked to pay a rate of $1.30 per month per subscriber.  Folks, that’s a lot.  The Big Ten charges just $1.00 inside its footprint and its been on the air since 2007.  (Outside the SEC region the price will be just 25 cents per month per subscriber.)

While not as expensive as some of the numbers kicked around by other websites — which we’ve always said were over-inflated — the cost will still likely be high enough to lead to plenty of last-minute haggling.

To date, tiny start-up AT&T U-verse is the only carrier to have locked in and announced a deal with ESPN/SEC.  But The Sports Business Daily says that’s about  to change.  Dish Network is expected to finalize a deal that will enable the satellite provider to carry the network from its launch.  Interestingly, the co-founder of Dish and chairman of its board is Charlie Ergen, a University of Tennessee graduate and booster.  Having an “SEC guy” at the top of the Dish Network org chart couldn’t have hurt.  Dish boasts 14 million subscribers.  For each of those subscribers within the SEC footprint, ESPN will be paid $1.30 per month.  The SEC will be paid out of ESPN’s loot.

DirecTV, Comcast, Time-Warner and other providers have yet to ink deals, but it’s a positive sign that a major group like Dish has jumped on board.  That might help with the negotiations between ESPN/SEC and DirecTV, Dish’s main competitor in the satellite biz.

So how should you the consumer be feeling about this news?  If you’re a Dish subscriber, good.  It sounds as though you’ll have the SEC Network from the get-go, though there’s no word on how much Dish might mark up the pricing for the SEC Network.

If you get your television via DirecTV, Comcast, Time-Warner or another group, cautious optimism is the mood of the day.  First, because a major distributor is about to jump on board and put some pressure on your provider.  Second, because it sounds as if talk of the SEC and ESPN asking for basic-tier placement is not part of the current negotiations.

That said, we’d still be surprised if many of you didn’t have to “call your cable operator and ask for the SEC Network.”

 

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Fire Up The Realignment Talk: Maryland Claims The ACC – With The Help Of ESPN – Tried To Swipe 2 Big Ten Schools

thiefRemember that monster lawsuit between The University of Maryland and the Atlantic Coast Conference?  Yeah, well it just got taken to another level.

To briefly summarize, Maryland and Rutgers are scheduled to join the Big Ten this summer.  The ACC filed a $52 million suit against Maryland for jumping ship.  The $52 mil would be the Terps’ exit fee.  Already, the ACC has withheld $16 million in revenue from the school.

Maryland countersued.  As in the state of Maryland countersued the ACC.  And today, a new counterclaim was announced.  Specifically, a $157 million counterclaim against John Swofford’s conference.  According to Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler, “Our lawsuit calls the ACC’s ‘exit fee’ what it really is: an antitrust violation and an illegal activity.”

This is all big news because future exit fees for schools leaving conferences could also be viewed as antitrust violations. If Maryland wins its case, suddenly the grant-of-rights agreements signed by leagues like the ACC and the Big 12 might not mean a thing.  (For the record, the SEC has no exit fees, but almost all of the league’s media rights were handed over to ESPN as part of the new SEC Network deal.)

Today’s suit also contained a surprise.  Maryland alleges that the ACC — with Wake Forest and Pittsburgh leading the way — attempted to recruit two unnamed Big Ten schools into the ACC.  Call it a “Terp-for-tat” move.  It’s also claimed that none other than ESPN provided “counsel and direction” to the ACC in its attempts to fend off losses and instead grow.  With Pittsburgh involved, Penn State is believed to have been one of the two schools the ACC chased, but neither Big Ten school will be officially identified until court proceedings ramp up.

ESPN’s involvement should surprise no one.  The network has deals with just about every conference in the country.  ESPN is partnered with the Big 12 (including an individual deal with Texas), the SEC (in a big way and growing), the Pac-12, and both the ACC and Big Ten.

ESPN owns the first-, second-, and third-tier media rights for the ACC through 2026-27.  They own first-tier rights to the Big Ten through 2016-17.

That’s where things get messy.  When the Big Ten chose to add Maryland and Rutgers — moves clearly made for television purposes — it stands to reason they consulted with both FOX (who co-owns the Big Ten Network) and ESPN.  ESPN was likely aware of — if not pushing for — a raid of the ACC for Maryland.

But if the claims made today are to be believed, ESPN then turned around and told the ACC who to go after in the Big Ten in order to stabilize itself after Maryland’s departure.  So ESPN was more than involved.  It appears the network was playing puppeteer for both leagues.  Surprising?  No.  Folks have been calling ESPN the man behind the curtain for years.  But that doesn’t make these latest claims any less slimy.  We’re talking about two leagues trying to lure schools from one another within a few months time all directed — allegedly — by the same adviser, ESPN.

Our question: How do any conference commissioners or university presidents trust their business partner, ESPN, to provide them with honest, sound advice when the network has its own interests in every contract, deal and move?

Stay tuned on this one…

 

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SEC Headlines 1/6/2014

headlines-monBCS Championship

1. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stands to make an additional $625,000 in bonus money with a win tonight.

2. Win tonight by Auburn would make the greatest single-year turnaround in NCAA history.

3. Ron Higgins:  ”I was wrong thinking the 48-year-old Malzahn…would have difficulty succeeding at the BCS conference level.”

4. Current Auburn and former Florida State assistant Dameyune Craig on FSU quarterback Jameis Winston:  ”I think Jameis is trying to prove that I made a mistake by coming here.”

5. How Auburn’s 2013 roster was built - where would the Tigers be without their Florida players?

6. Nick Saban on the Auburn attack: ”It’s very difficult the way Auburn plays offense to give them negative plays.” One key – running outside the tackles.

7. Todd Blackledge on Auburn: “I think they present a better offensive line, a more physical offensive line and defensive front than Florida State has seen all season.”

8. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis on facing the Florida State offense: “Our defense sometimes gets overlooked, but we’re ready for the task.”

9. What’s it like at Auburn to get chewed out by a head coach who doesn’t cuss?  ”It’s way worse.”

10. David Climer:  ”Florida State recruits like an SEC team, coaches like an SEC team and plays like an SEC team.”

11. Stewart Mandel: “If Florida State plays the way it has all year, it may do to Auburn what Alabama did to Notre Dame last January.”

12. What do the guys who manage the sports books in Vegas think of this game?  Almost all of them pick Florida State.

13. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach takes the other side - 10 reasons why Auburn will win the game.

14. Some Auburn buildings get spray painted with “FSU”. 

15. Goodbye BCS - here’s how things will work starting next year.

SEC Football

17. Florida welcomes seven early enrollees to campus this week. Are the Gators the most valuable football program in the SEC?

18. Here’s a look at Georgia’s pre-spring defensive depth charts.

19. Steve Spurrier: “I am going to declare South Carolina the national champion of the bowl season.”

Media

20. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will be among those providing real-time analysis of the game as  part of ESPN’s “BCS Megacast” tonight.

21. Brent Musberger’s contract with ESPN is up in August.  ESPN loves Nick Saban’s broadcast potential.

22. Challenging the view that attendance issues at games are caused by the comfort of home: “I don’t think the TV vs. live experience disparity is the culprit.”

SEC Basketball

23. The father of Georgia coach Mark Fox passed away over the weekend.

SEC/NFL Draft

24. LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry expected to make formal announcements today about entering the 2014 NFL draft.

25.Florida defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell announces he’ll enter the draft.

26. As many as 10 Alabama players have explored the possibility of leaving early for the NFL.

Extra

27. Pat Forde makes the case why Charlie Strong is not a good fit at Texas. (and here’s an interesting tweet about Texas and Nick Saban)

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FSU/Auburn BCS Title Tilt To Be “Megacast”

television-wallYou’ve heard of broadcasting.  Now get ready for “megacasting.”

ESPN has announced plans to air the BCS Championship Game between Auburn and Florida State via six different pipelines.  Yep, six.  Your viewing options will be as follows:

 

ESPN — The traditional broadcast featuring Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit.

ESPN 2 — “BCS Title Talk” will run throughout the game, featuring commentary and discussion among ESPN analysts, coaches and celebrities.

ESPNews — “BCS Film Room” will be provide play-by-play analysis from different camera angles.

ESPN Classic — “Sounds of the BCS” will feature only the game and in-stadium sounds (field mics, PA announcer, etc), no announcers.

ESPN3 — The website will provide team-specific coverage with the radio broadcasts from both schools available.

ESPN Goal Line — This game time-only channel will provide live action video, replays, the ESPN radio broadcast and up-to-the-minute stats.

 

ESPN head of programming Norby Williamson told USA Today: “We always champion the multi-platform approach of ESPN.  We thought this was the perfect opportunity to frankly have some fun, experiment and try to come up with different offerings to see what we can deliver on the biggest stage that we’re going to have.”

Expect Mike Slive and the folks at the SEC office to be watching closely.  As the SEC/ESPN partnership expands next season with the launch of the SEC Network, it’s a good bet the conference and the network will at some point trot out a multi-platform experience for a mondo SEC-versus-SEC contest.

The biggest drawback to this type thing in this writer’s opinion?  The constant fear that you’re missing something better on another channel.  Have those clickers ready, fans.

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