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NBC’s Coverage Of Kubiak Collapse Should Cause SEC Broadcasters To Ask, “What If?”

gfx - honest opinionLast night, Houston head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field as his team’s game with Indianapolis hit halftime.  Those close to Kubiak have said he is “feeling good” as he recovers in a Houston hospital.  Tests are being run today to make sure the 52-year-old did not have a stroke.

Here’s hoping for the best when it comes to the coach’s health.  Unfortunately, NBC didn’t show us its best as the story first unfolded.

After going to it’s halftime commercial break, NBC returned to Houston rather than to New York as usual.  Bob Costas informed viewers of Kubiak’s collapse while live pictures showed medical personnel crowding around him.  So far so good.  But rather than stay with Costas and crew in Houston, NBC decided to go ahead and punt the ball back to Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison for highlights and ha-has.

Bad decision.

An NFL coach was laying on the turf in pain.  Michelle Tafoya — the best sideline reporter in the business — was on the field trying to gather information.  Al Michaels — a veteran and pro who handled the earthquake before Game Three of the 1989 World Series and became a newsman during ABC’s post-quake coverage — was in the booth.  And Costas — whether you agree with his opinion pieces or not — boasts 40 years of sports/news experience.

Kubiak’s situation was more important than a highlights package.  Tafoya, Michaels and Costas are certianly sharp enough to have vamped about what they were seeing and how the crowd was reacting.  The decision to put football first was the wrong one and that fact was beaten home further as Michaels and Collinsworth had to call the second half of a game while Kubiak was receiving treatment at a nearby hospital.  Yes, the game must go on, but every remark about last night’s second half seemed ridiculously unimportant.

Kubiak’s collapse and NBC’s reaction to it should have every other sports network in the country asking today, “What would we do?”  That includes CBS and ESPN, the SEC’s broadcast partners.

If — heaven forbid — an SEC coach or player were to collapse during a contest, how would Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson handle it?  What could Tracy Wolfson bring to the table?  Do they have the gravitas to cover a potential life-and-death situation?

What of ESPN’s myriad of broadcast teams?

Personally, I like the work of Lundquist, Danielson and Wolfson.  I believe they do as good a job as any when it comes to coverage of a college football game.  Lundquist — with 50 years of experience — would be able to handle a serious situation, in my opinion.  But would CBS stick with on-site coverage of a news event or would network honchos toss back to Tim Brando and crew for highlights?

When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of serious news coverage and — if the on-site team is capable — remain with them.  For all we knew, Kubiak’s life was on the line last night as Patrick, Dungy and Harrison smiled and ranked the league’s best teams.  No knock on those three, but sorry, not interested.

NBC found itself in a helluva fix last night.  I don’t envy them.  But when a sports story becomes a news story, the goal should be to provide news-style coverage.  Costas, Michaels and Tafoya did that… but only after viewers sat through a meaningless halftime show.

Today, CBS and ESPN officials should be putting themselves in NBC’s shoes, trying to determine what their own plans of action would be if thrown into similar circumstances.

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New Notre Dame TV Deal Does Nothing To Slow Realignment

nbc-leprechaunFor the ACC, the best way to achieve stability would be for the league to add Notre Dame as a full member.  Currently the Irish are scheduled to join John Swofford’s conference in 2013-14, but only those sports not using a pigskin will officially join.  The Notre Dame football team will play five ACC opponents each year, but it will maintain it’s independence.

It will also maintain its television contract with NBC.

Yesterday it was announced the school and the network had extended their current contract by another 10 years, running through the 2025 gridiron campaign.  In the past the school and the network had agreed to five-year extensions of the deal that was initially signed back in 1991.

NBC — now merged with Comcast — can offer “additional avenues to expand the breadth of Notre Dame-related sports programming on NBC platforms,” according to Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick.  In other words, expect NBC to continue to air Notre Dame home football games while the new NBC Sports Network (which reaches 80 million homes) will launch specialty programming focused on Notre Dame athletics.  NBC Sports Network will also have access to the school’s other sports and a home football game on occasion.

ESPN owns the rights to Notre Dame road football games played at ACC schools via its contract with that conference.

In a statement, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said, “We are particularly excited that this extension offers enhanced rights that allow us to bring Notre Dame Football to fans on more platforms than ever before.”

So why write of this on an SEC-centric website?  Because Notre Dame’s extension with NBC impacts the ACC and the ACC is the conference that’s currently most vulnerable to another league’s raid.

“I think it strengthens us in a lot of different ways,” Swarbrick said yesterday.  “It’s not intended to be a signal about (independence).  Our commitment to it isn’t more today than it was two years ago.  It’s a starting point for our planning what we wanted to achieve.”

Maybe so, but the deal most certainly does button-up Notre Dame as a football independent for the foreseeable future.  With NBC/Comcast cash rolling in, the school can continue along as an adjunct football member of the ACC.  Or another conference.

From an ACC standpoint, Notre Dame won’t be rushing in as a last-minute hero to save the day.  If the Irish had joined the league full-time — and no one really expected that they would — it would have meant four additional ND/ACC football games each season.  That would would have meant more inventory to sell to ESPN and more cash for the league’s schools.  It would also would have meant that “football schools” like Florida State and Clemson would’ve seen Notre Dame more often.  As it stands, 14 ACC schools will be pushing for matchups with Notre Dame but only five per year will get them.

It’s believed that several ACC schools have had discussions with the Big Ten regarding a potential jump to Jim Delany’s league.  Maryland is currently fighting to escape the ACC’s $50 million exit fee by way of the court system.  If that fee is eventually negotiated down — like just about every other exit fee that’s ever been challenged — it’s possible schools like Virginia, Georgia Tech, and/or North Carolina could get invites from the Big Ten.

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Thought Of The Day – 10/31/12

Happy Halloween.  Plenty of SEC info coming your way today.

First, an appropriate musical kickoff to your day.

 

“Welcome to my nightmare, I think you’re gonna like it.  I think you’re gonna feel you belong.”

 

alice cooper welcome to my nightmare

 

Ah, the 70s.  And speaking of that decade, here’s a trailer for NBC’s big Halloween-weekend “event” and movie back in ’78.  Not sure which is worse… the video above or the promo below.

 

NBC bumper for Kiss Meets the Phantom 1978

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Reilly’s Rant About Notre Dame A Sign Of Things To Come For The SEC

There are days in life when writers just don’t have anything to write.  The term “writer’s block?”  Yeah, it happens.  Trust me.

But instead of taking a day off — or just writing less, which is our answer to writer’s block around here — some writers cobble something together just for the sake of cobbling something together.  Rick Reilly’s piece on Notre Dame football for ESPN today seems to be just that kind of cobbled together something.  It looks like the well-written work of a messageboard troll.  And because half America hates Notre Dame, Reilly is just throwing red meat to a huge crowd.  He’s chumming shark-filled waters.  Today’s post will probably be his most-read perused column of the year and many, many will — appropriately enough — shout “amen” and “hallelujah” after reading it.

The gist of the piece is this: Reilly is tired of Notre Dame being treated like a special football program even though it hasn’t been recording special wins over the past couple of decades:

 

“From now on:

* Notre Dame no longer gets its own television deal with NBC.

* Notre Dame no longer gets to be the only school in the country with an inexplicable seat at the BCS decisions-making table.

* Notre Dame no longer gets its yearly undeserved hellahype in preseason rankings and preseason All-America teams.

In short, until Notre Dame football starts winning again, it’s Rice to me.”

 

Reilly just seems to grow angrier from there, ending with: “You flunked, Notre Dame.  Go back a grade.”

Before you applaud too loudly — and trust me, I’m no Fighting Irish fan myself — just remember that the nanosecond after some team finally dethrones the SEC as national football champ, articles like Reilly’s will be churned out all across America.  Only they’ll be telling Mike Slive and company to go to the back of the line.

In our country today, just as many people are sick of the SEC as are sick of Notre Dame.  Maybe more.

 

Reilly is trolling on a national scale.  Obviously that’s a system that works well.  This site and many others have linked to and Tweeted about Reilly’s demand that Notre Dame be dethroned.  And other writers do the same thing from time to time — pick a school or fanbase, crap all over it, wait for outraged messageboard posters to spread the word, and then sit back and let the pageviews and unique visitors roll in by the bazillion.

But in this case, Reilly might have been better off just simply stating, “I hate Notre Dame,” and leaving it at that.  Because that seems to be the point.  All the rest is poppycock with a side of balderdash.

No more deal with NBC?  Uh, why?  NBC partners with Notre Dame because Irish football — winning, losing, hated by millions or not — still draws big ratings.  You want capitalism?  Then hush about Notre Dame and NBC.  Sure the Irish mystique may be greater than the team’s most recent BCS rating, but that mystique is still very much alive and well.  NBC knows it.  NBC makes money off of it.

No seat for Notre Dame at the BCS table?  What about all the other crazy tie-ins involving the BCS?  Ask Boise State and Kansas State fans if they enjoyed having the Sugar Bowl pass them by for Virginia Tech last year.  And now that we’re finally getting rid of “AQ” and “non-AQ” status in our biggest bowl games, we’re going to kick off an era of “contract” and “access” bowls.  Just to make sure that some teams from some leagues are in while some teams from some other leagues are out.  It won’t have a thing to do with on-field production, mind you, just league affiliation.  Taking that into consideration, is the means in which Notre Dame is given a spot at the table any more random than the way other schools are selected or cast aside?

No more hellahype?  Well, that’s on Reilly and the rest of us in the media.  If I’m not mistaken, Reilly’s own ESPN has the Irish ranked #25 in the nation right now and a big video preview of Notre Dame sits right atop his column.  Anyone remember the old line: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game?”  Well, don’t hate the hyped, hate the hypist.

There’s this idea that Notre Dame is no longer special because the Irish no longer win bowl games and national crowns.  But as long as every conference in America would welcome Notre Dame with open arms — and they all would — the program is still special.  As long as one of the Big Three networks wants to hand the school a personalized television deal worth millions — the program is still special.  As long as the Orange Bowl wants to chat with Notre Dame about creating some form of partnership — the program is still special.

Yes, it’s just its history that makes it special, but I don’t hear anybody calling for Gettysburg National Military Park to be plowed under just because no one’s fought on it in a century and a half.  Independence Hall hasn’t been torn down due to a lack of important meetings.

 

This is an SEC-centric site.  And I write this piece about Notre Dame only to make you aware of what’s gonna come the SEC’s way when Southern Cal or Oklahoma or some other team boots a last-second field goal in a BCS title game someday.

“You flunked, SEC.  Now you’re just like everybody else.  Time to knock you down a notch.”

Blah, blah, and blah.  But it’s coming.  It’s coming ’cause haters gotta hate.

In truth, though, when the SEC does finally take one on the chin in a big game, it won’t make SEC football any less special for the millions of fans who follow the league’s teams each and every season.  It likely won’t have much of an impact on the conference’s television ratings week-in and week-out either.

Which happens to be the case with Notre Dame, too.

So you might want to think about that fact before you join the chorus of people praising Reilly’s smackdown of Notre Dame today.  The SEC will get the very same treatment at some point.  And if you don’t think it will be fair when that day comes, then you shouldn’t think it’s fair to kick the Fighting Irish around today.

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A Potential SEC Network Starts Getting More Pub… Just As We Wrote 18 Months Ago

Here at MrSEC.com, we like to lay out scenarios for you.  With 20 years of television experience and contacts, we feel we’ve got a pretty good grasp on how television execs will view expansion and that should — along with our sources from across the SEC — also give us a good grasp on how/why expansion works as it does.

That’s why we told you in July of 2010 to “mark it down” that Texas A&M was destined to join the SEC.  That’s why we wrote last May that Missouri would be an attractive expansion target for business reasons… long before anyone else discussed Mizzou.  It’s why when headlines were made this week regarding the possible removal of the two-team cap from the BCS bowls we shrugged our shoulders and pointed — again — to what we wrote last May.

Are we always right?  No.  But our logic — according to the television, rights agency, school and conference sources we have — is usually pretty accurate.  (Probably because we’re, ya know, talking to people at the network, rights agency, school and conference levels.)

Take the talk of an SEC Network.  That topic fell off the radar when the SEC inked its deals with ESPN and CBS, but we’ve continued to say that depending on the league’s contracts, the formation of a network remained a possbility.

Today, the website OutkickTheCoverage.com is beating that drum rather loudly and we’ve received a few emails asking us for our take on the matter.  Well, we happen to agree with them… since we wrote of that very possibility on May 19th, 2010:

“… a full-scale renegotiation of the deals with CBS and ESPN might not be necessary at all…

Let’s say the SEC keeps its current deals with CBS and ESPN in place.  The league could then take all of its new inventory (as well as the tape delay rights to all of its other games) and create its own SEC Network.  Two years ago, the Big Ten Network looked more like a headache than a gold mine.  The SEC chose not to launch its own channel.  But things have changed and the Big Ten Network now brings in more than was initially projected.  It also figures to keep growing.  Now, if an SEC Network aired two live football games per week, coaches shows, and game replays in the fall… and then did the same during basketball season, do you think SEC fans would call their local cable operators demanding access?  I do.

The bottom line is this: Expansion does NOT rest on the SEC having to renegotiate more money from CBS and/or ESPN.”

Again, that was from May of last year.  We’ve hit on that point numerous times in the last few weeks as well.

So today, OutkickTheCoveage is tackling that topic.

To create a network, the SEC would have to ask each SEC school to turn over its Tier 3 rights to the league.  Schools like Florida and Alabama have bigger Tier 3 rights deals than schools like Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but it’s likely all the schools would agree to such a request if they saw that everyone’s dollars would go up in a league-packaged deal.

If the SEC stops expanding at 14 schools — and we’ve been saying for several weeks that that is what our sources have told us is the league’s goal — that would equal 14 former Tier 3 games that could be put on a new SEC Network.  That much is obvious.  But depending on the wording of the league’s contract with ESPN, there could be even more inventory available.

(Read closely, we’re about to dig into some math.)

Currently there are 48 in-conference SEC games a year (12 teams x 8 league games = 96 games / 2 two teams per game = 48).  In addition, each school then plays 4 more non-conference games which equals another 48 games.

So CBS and ESPN have the rights to 96 total football games per year.  ESPN gets the bulk of those games, some of which they sell off to other networks (CSS, FSN).

Now, was the SEC’s contract with ESPN all-inclusive (meaning it simply said “all league games”) or was it specific (meaning it stated “96 games”)?  If it was all-inclusive then the league would have at most — with a 14-team league — 14 games to package together and use on a SEC Network.

If the contract specifically said “96 games,” however, then the league would get all of the additional games created by expansion (2 new teams x 4 non-conference games = 8 total games + 12 existing schools’ Tier 3 games = 20 games + 8 additional in-conference games involving new schools = 28 new games of inventory… if our math’s correct).  That would be enough for a double-header per week on a new SEC Network.

Everything depends on the wording of that contract.  And that’s not even counting the additional basketball inventory that could be created.

Speaking of wording, we believe the SEC gave up the right to its own network when it inked its deal with ESPN in Summer 2008.  According to a statement from ESPN, “The SEC agreement can not be reopened and there are no outs.”

If that’s the case, it’s time to deduct some points from Mike Slive’s score.  No outs?  Rule #1 in business: Never a sign a contract with no outs.

Having said that, we’d bet that’s simply ESPN’s opening stance.  Slive has suggested that there are look-ins built into the existing SEC-ESPN deal.  What we’re probably looking at is a negotiation.

Slive:  We want more money for our expanded league.

ESPN:  Tough.  You’ve got no out clause.

Slive:  Why don’t we all remain friends and look for other options?

Bing, bang, boom the door is opened for an SEC Network run in partnership with ESPN.  The SEC gets more money.  ESPN gets more inventory to sell… and thus more money as well.

Moving on, yesterday OutkickTheCoverage also suggested that no one forget that Comcast/NBC is now a potential bidder for SEC rights as well.  Well, here’s what we wrote back on September 20th:

“And don’t forget, NBC is now looking to become a bigger player in the college sports scene, just as Fox has done.  Fox has its own network of regional channels.  NBC has the same through its merger with Comcast which was approved earlier this year.  If current SEC partner ESPN balks at forking over more dough to the SEC and fails to make a good-faith offer, Slive could conceivably — depending on his contract with CBS — take the SEC inventory to NBC to see what that network might offer for it.”

Regarding a potential SEC Network, we wrote:


“If the SEC did launch a network, it would find that cable distribution revenue is much more stable than ad-sales-based revenue via the networks.  The more households the SEC could reach, the more money it would make.  To heck with on-field performance or game-by-game ratings.  Subscribers would pay a monthly fee to their cable operators — again, think of a potential partnership with NBC/Comcast — and a piece of that would go straight into the SEC’s coffers.

Were talking about ifs here, but if the SEC has a mind to join other leagues in the conference-owned channel game, the more eyeballs the better.  That’s why Texas &M is so valuable.  There are approximately eight million cable households in the Lone Star State.  Awesome.  Unfortunately, that’s why a school like West Virginia — located in a state with a total population of less than two million people — probably wouldn’t be as attractive to the SEC.”

At this point, it’s all in the legalese.  Slive and the SEC’s presidents wouldn’t be expanding now if a) everyone else weren’t expanding and b) there weren’t more money to be grabbed.  He knows the cash is out there and you can bet he’s got an idea of how to get at it.

Slive will likely go to CBS and ESPN — and ESPN’s got the bigger deal ($150 million per year compared to CBS’ $55 million per year) — and ask for an increase in pay.

The networks will balk and say a deal is a deal.  According to a senior sports VP at one of the big three networks who we spoke to, ESPN would likely have to make some sort of good-faith offer if there is any room for negotiation at all.  (ESPN says there isn’t, but Slive has said those “look-ins” do exist.)

It’s certainly possible that the SEC and ESPN could reach an agreement to ball up the league’s new inventory and launch it with a new network.  (Seeing how much trouble ESPN has had getting the Longhorn Network into homes, it would probably be better for the SEC if they could partner with NBC/Comcast instead.)

But here’s one more possibility that you’ll read here first…

Depending on the language of the SEC’s deal with ESPN, the league might be able to simply slice off the new inventory created by adding one or two schools and sell it as yet another tier of broadcast rights.

CBS would get its Tier 1 rights as planned.  ESPN would get the Tier 2 rights it signed up for initially, too.  And — let’s say for kicks — NBC/Comcast would get the 14 to 28 new games created by expansion.  If Texas A&M or Missouri (or West Virginia, etc) were involved, that game’s rights would go to the new partner.

Likely?  No.  But possible.

First, we’d have to get our hands on the ESPN-SEC contract to see just how possible.  Second, ESPN would probably play ball with the SEC on a new network long before it let someone else grab a portion of the SEC’s pie.

But two things appear evident as we close this post:

1.  If the SEC is looking for new cash, starting its own network would look to be a good way to do it (as we’ve been writing for a year-and-a-half now).

2.  When it comes to SEC and expansion… you’ll read it here first.

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Rasputin Unveils His UTEP Prediction. What’s Yours?

Arkansas
Content provided by Razorback Expats.

 

predictions_crystal_ball_2

In anticipation of tomorrow’s battle against Texas-El Paso, we asked Rasputin, our staff soothsayer and a seemingly ageless Russian immigrant, to offer his prediction for the game. Rasputin – who is said to have pitched the “My Mother the Car” TV series to NBC – has been a rabid Razorback football fan since the program’s debut in 1894.

His forecast is after the jump:

“With the autumn moon lighting my way,
I doth seek escape from the nerve-wracking day.

In the mountainous countryside, I wipe away a tear,
and revel in the visions that soon doth appear.

Many points and many touchdowns – of these I do see,
Victorious by a wide margin, my beloved Hogs will be.

As I look up at the beautiful night sky,
I think, “How quickly this season has gone by!”

The end is suddenly, shockingly at hand,
And the Hogs, maybe they’re not the best in the land.

But a strong and spirited finish – that is within their reach,
Make it so, make it so – of the Hogs, this I do beseech.

The pig-emblazoned warriors of Arkansas – 41,
the most honorable and spirited warriors of Texas-El Paso – 17.”

Well, we’ve heard from Raz. Now let’s hear from you – vote in the poll and pipe up in the comments thread!

 

Poll
Who will win Saturday’s game?


  30 votes | Results

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