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Television Changes Coming For The SEC?

Three years ago, the SEC signed a pair of dynamite contracts with ESPN and CBS that caused the eyes of sports fans to bug out of their noggins.  Three years later — as is often the case with mega-contracts — other leagues have reached and passed the bar set by the Southeastern Conference.

So will the SEC act?

In Destin, Mike Slive said that he was pleased with the built-in escalators in the league’s contracts.  But he also said the SEC would chat with ESPN about the college sports/television landscape “at some appropriate time.”

“It’s a chance for the two of us to sit down together and look at what’s going on in the world of intercollegiate athletics and television at the time, in the event that changes in technology and other options are available.  It’s a chance to discuss whether or not any adjustments should be made in how we do things.”

While the commissioner says that he is “very comfortable” with the league’s TV deals, he also added the following: “We’ve been known to be creative and do things that other people haven’t done.”

Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News — who has become the de facto “business reporter” on the SEC beat — does an excellent job of breaking down the league’s television options in a lengthy piece posted today.

Among the highlights:

1.  The SEC’s pact with ESPN prevents the league from starting its own network like the Big Ten, the Pac-12 or the University of Texas.  But might the league someday consider its own channel?  “We’ll sit down at some point and do a look-in and see where we are.  I’m going to leave it right there,” Slive said.

2.  The SEC’s goals in its last television negotiations were — according to Slive — to provide financial security for the league’s schools and to gain more national exposure for its programs… “not to be the national leader in TV revenue,” as Solomon puts it.

Last year, ESPN aired 1,600 hours of programming devoted to the SEC and its schools.

“We didn’t sacrifice anything,” Slive said.  “If you want to do some math, you might want to compare the last 12 years of our agreement to the first 12 years of the Pac-12.  I think you’d be very surprised at just how things line up.”

3.  Future developments in online technology will continue to play into the SEC’s and ESPN’s thinking.  The conference has recently launched more live streaming programming on its own digital network while ESPN’s expansion of its brand has brought added exposure to the league.

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Grad Student Exemption One Change The SEC Botched

The SEC is getting plenty of press — and heat — over the 25-man soft cap that it imposed on its football signing classes last week.  Some groups say the league went too far and has placed itself at a disadvantage.  Other groups complain that the SEC didn’t go far enough.

But most everyone agrees that the SEC’s presidents goofed when it came to one particular piece of its new policy — the grad student exemption.

Mike Slive and the league’s presidents said that the the loophole allowing graduates at one school to transfer into the SEC with one year of eligibility as a grad student was being exploited for athletic, not academic purposes.  And to be honest, that’s correct in most cases.

However, there are still two flaws in the SEC’s decision.  First, the rule was designed to reward students who do exactly what the league’s presidents should want them to do — get their diplomas.  Why disincentivize in that area?

Second, the SEC’s ruling to ban those who want to join the league for only a year — and only for athletic purposes — said nothing regarding the league’s one-and-done basketball stars.  Obviously, it’s harder to legislate against what someone is going to do in the future, but if you’re going to pick one type of one-and-doner to support, wouldn’t the best option be the guy who has already gotten his college degree as opposed to the kid who’s simply killing time until he can enter the NBA draft?

Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News puts it this way:

“One-and-done players without degrees on the front end?  No problem.  One-and-done players with diplomas on the back end?  No way.”

In reality, the league’s presidents were guilty of overreacting to the negative publicity given to the league over last year’s Jeremiah Masoli-to-Mississippi story.  Much of what the SEC’s presidents did in Destin was about PR and much of it was good, but Masoli is hardly the poster boy for the grad student exemption.  It’s rare that a school would go after a grad student who has been booted off his last team for illegal activities.  Masoli was the exception, not the rule.

In most cases the players seeking the grad student exemption are good people and — obviously — pretty decent students.

The SEC did some good things last week in Destin.  But its presidents were way off base on this one.

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SEC Headlines – 1/31/11 Part One

1.  Kudos to Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News for trying to count up all the juco signees in America over the past few years.  His conclusion: Most SEC schools sign an average of two per year.

2.  Alabama assistant Burton Burns has been ranked as one of the nation’s top recruiters.

3.  This site is relentless in its attempts to take down Auburn’s football program.

4.  Arkansas’ win at Vanderbilt on Saturday gave the Hogs a 25 spot bounce in the latest RPI rankings.

5.  UA’s Rotnei Clarke was named the SEC’s Player of the Week.

6.  There’s no official word yet on the discipline Razorback receiver Lance Ray will face after being arrested for having a joint in his dorm room this weekend.

7.  John Calipari says Larry Brown told him that Andy Kennedy “can really coach.”  Tell that to angry Rebel fans who aren’t happy about a 1-5 league mark.

8.  Ole Miss is calling on fans to wear red for a “red out” against Kentucky tomorrow night.

9.  Mississippi State got a much-needed win over Florida on Saturday but the Dogs still need to get better defensively.

10.  In case you didn’t know, the SEC West stinks in basketball this year.

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SEC Headlines 12/26/2010

1. Jon Solomon on bowl ticket policies: “Cater to the wealthy. It’s a time-honored bowl tradition.”

2. Florida hotels and resorts love the Bowl Season.

3. It’s back to the practice field today for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

4. Extra motivation for the Florida Gators – Urban Meyer’s final game. The guy on the other sideline is no average Joe.

5. Meyer’s three biggest wins at Florida.

6. Nick Saban is not the only ex-Michigan State coach at Alabama.

7. Alabama transfer and former Tennessee player Aaron Douglas faces a December 29th hearing after being charged with DUI.

8. LSU’s struggles on the basketball court not a cause for alarm.

9. LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu is 18 years old, 5’9″ and 180 pounds.  He also has more tackles than Patrick Peterson.

10. The most surprising coaching moves of the year.

11. Derek Dooley’s first year in Knoxville.

12. A few Tennessee basketball players could see reduced time on the court – but not freshman forward Tobias Harris.

13. Brandon Knight - renaissance man.

14. The Rivals 2010 All-Junior College transfer team.  As you might imagine, there’s a few SEC names on the list.

15.  Shorthanded Mississippi State loses to Hawaii – 68 – 57.

16.  Wall Street’s latest target – sports gambling and casinos.

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More Fairley Talk

Just a couple more Nick Fairley notes today.  Hey, at least it’s a change-up from all the Cam Newton coverage.

* Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News writes that Fairley deserves scrutiny for the hit he put on Aaron Murray with the top of his helmet.  (Agreed.)  Solomon also says, “we knew” Fairley wouldn’t be suspended because of what’s riding on the Iron Bowl.  (Disagree.)

* Fairley’s name is mud in the state of Georgia right now, but David Ching of The Athens Banner-Herald believes the Dawgs need to find a Fairley of their own.

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