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A&M Puts Out Official “It Wasn’t Us” Statement Regarding Gainesville Billboard

Jason Cook — the VP of marketing and communications at Texas A&M — just sent his school’s official statement regarding the Gainesville billboard to MrSEC.com.  Here’s what it says:

 

“This billboard was not placed by Texas A&M University, and it is certainly not reflective of how we have handled our transition into the SEC. We are investigating aggressively, as we believe that our institutional trademarks have been infringed upon. Texas A&M has tremendous respect for the University of Florida, and we look forward to hosting the Gators in our first SEC football game this weekend.”

 

I don’t think anyone for a second believes the university was behind the placement of a trash-talking billboard in Gainesville, but it’s still a wise move by the folks at A&M to make that point explicitly clear.  If there’s anyone upset by this affair, you can bet it’s the people in the A&M administration and on the Aggie coaching staff.

As I stated in my initial post on this affair, all it takes is one oaf to ruin a party.  So was this oaf an Aggie, a Gator trying to motivate his own squad, or someone connected to another program altogether?  Clearly, the folks in College Station are trying to figure that one out ASAP.

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CBS Ad Sales Up About 10% Over Last Year For SEC Football

CBS is getting a jump on sales for college football season, already hitting the streets with its SEC package.  For buyers, the price is going up.  According to Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, the network is “getting substantial price increases for its Southeastern Conference schedule.”

Adding two more name teams in two big states with several major media hubs inside those states will do that for ya.

Here’s more from the magazine:

 

“Buyers say there will be a lot of college football games to advertise in this season, especially with Fox adding primetime games to its schedule.  But CBS’ SEC package has a limited number of high-rated games with top-ranked teams and the threat of a potential sellout is pushing agencies to do business now and pay CBS’ price.

CBS also has the Super Bowl and might be leveraging that with sponsors that normally don’t advertise in SEC games, one buyer said.

‘It’s May 4 and we’ve done a fair amount of business,’ said John Bogusz, executive VP for sports sales and marketing at CBS. He said the market is moving a bit early this year and that CBS was scoring price increases in the high single- to low double-digit range.

‘We still have inventory but we’re pretty well along,’ Bogusz said. 

 

More money for the television networks?  You can bet that’s helping Mike Slive when it comes to his negotiations and “look-ins” with both CBS and ESPN.

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Texas A&M Looks To Increase National Exposure Via SEC Move

There’s a common misconception — one that we’ve tried to dispel for two years now — that conference expansion and realignment is based 100% on football.  While TV contracts certainly provide the biggest reason for schools and leagues to merge, everything from academics to visibility is also considered by decision-makers.

ESPN.com’s Kristi Dosh spoke with Texas A&M’s Jason Cook — the school’s VP of marketing and communications — about the rationale behind the Aggies’ move to the SEC.  His take?


“The top decision factor for A&M going to the SEC was about increasing national visibility and exposure… While some look at the Big 12′s (FOX television) contract and see it as good from a financial standpoint, from an exposure standpoint, it doesn’t get coast-to-coast coverage.”


Cook pointed out that ESPN/ABC chose to air A&M’s recent game with Iowa State across only a portion of Big 12 footprint.  By comparison, the vast majority of SEC games air on CBS or one one of ESPN’s national networks.

He also noted that nine of the Top 25 selling sports brands in the country are currently in the SEC.

Dosh also spoke with Missouri officials who are focused on the academic side of the school’s new SEC partnership.  Mizzou intends to extend “their out-of-state reach, particularly in Florida, where they ahve a large number of alumni.”

Does football matter?  You bet.  Is it the only thing that matters?  Absolutely not.

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ESPN Exec: SEC “Feverishly” Working Thru 13- & 14-Team Schedule Plans

Earlier this week, Georgia AD Greg McGarity said that the SEC was examining 13-team schedules only for 2012.  A 14-team plan hadn’t been discussed at all, according to McGarity.

Well, Burke Magnus — ESPN’s senior VP of college sports programming — has told Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News a different story.  According to Solomon, Magnus said the SEC is “feverishly” trying to work through 13- and 14-team schedules for 2012.


“I think both of those schools — Texas A&M and I don’t think Missouri is official yet, but it’s suspected — will be good.  I think they’re going to strengthen the brand without diluting the core, which has been incredibly valuable to us.”

Regarding ESPN’s current contract with the SEC and how it might change, Magnus said, “I’ve never been part of a discussion where the two sides can’t work it out… You get together and talk about the value in the world as we see it, and the value in the world as they see it.”

Might an SEC Network be in the offing between the two entities?  Magnus told Solomon that it was “hard to say.”  “It’s very hypothetical at this point, I get the sense.  It is not active from our perspective at all.”

(The idea of an SEC Network has gained steam in recent weeks and one site promises to present possible financial numbers for such a network later this week.  We, of course, pointed to the possibility of a conference network all the way back in May of 2010, when most everyone assumed that the prospects for a conference-owned channel had died.)

But for those who believe the SEC has only been working on a 13-team schedule plan because it has known all along that Missouri would be trapped in the Big 12, think again.  Despite what league officials have been saying, a top exec with one of their two broadcast partners says the SEC has indeed been planning for a 14-team league in 2012.

That shouldn’t shock anyone.  It’s just good business to be prepared for both options.

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Meyer To Work SEC Games For ESPN?

How’d you like to hear former Florida coach Urban Meyer in the broadcast booth for one of your school’s games this fall?  According to ESPN’s senior VP of college sports programming, that could happen.

“We have to pick our spots,” Burke Magnus told The Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon.  “We don’t want to put the conference or an institution in an uncomfortable spot based on his history at Florida or otherwise, but he certainly knows the league.”

Meyer is expected to be used as both a studio analyst and a game analyst at times this fall. 

Magnus made it clear that Meyer might not wind up calling Auburn games, for example, due to the rumors and accusations that flew back and forth as part of the Cam Newton hubbub last fall.

“We’ll make sure we’re smart about it.”

In other words, don’t expect to hear Meyer doing any Pac-12 games involving Lane Kiffin’s USC team either.

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UF’s Meyer Officially Joins ESPN

Former Florida coach Urban Meyer will be joining ESPN’s college football team as a regular analyst for the network.  He will work weekly regular-season games and provide studio analysis for “College Football Live” and “College GameDay” according to ESPN’s website.

And that’s great news for the Florida football program.

The idea of Meyer staying around campus, having an office, and dropping by practice sounded nice at Will Muschamp’s introductory presser, but no new coach wants the old coach hanging around and looking over his shoulder.  Players upset with Muschamp might try to drop by Meyer’s office for advice or a shoulder to cry on.  Not good.  Now that likely won’t be a problem.

“Coach Meyer brings a fresh voice and a contemporary knowledge of the game,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive VP for production.  “As he showed during BCS coverage, his ability to communicate the strategic aspects of the game and his incredible track record for success will serve college football fans everywhere.”

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