Daily Archives: May 3, 2013

Jock talk

Ah, jeez.

… There was heavy chatter about the absence of Paul Finebaum, the popular Birmingham radio host whose contract recently expired, making him a free agent. The consensus is that Finebaum will play an important role as a personality on the SEC Network.

The worst part is the realization that I’ll be paying for that with an increase in my cable bill.

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Filed under PAWWWLLL!!!, SEC Football

Ramping up the nine-game conference schedule talk

Not that Mike Slive particularly cares, but if he’s looking for cover on that ninth SEC game, Nick Saban’s got his back.

“I personally feel like strength of schedule is going to be a real important thing in the future,” he said. “I know there are people out there who say we have fixed opponents that are very, very good teams. Well, let’s make a deal and let’s all play 10 good games. We’ll still play Virginia Tech or Wisconsin or West Virginia or Michigan or one of these teams in the first game of the year and go play nine conference games too.

“I think all those things make your team better and it’s really better for the fans. I think we should spend a lot more time thinking about the people that support and make college football what it is.”

(You know what gets me about that comment?  I actually believe Nick Saban is sincere there.  Given all the garbage lip service we usually get from the higher-ups about concern for the fans – other than keeping our wallets open, that is – I appreciate that.  But I digress.)

Judging from this article, I don’t get the impression SEC coaches are presenting a unified front on the subject, anyway.  In the end, there are two things driving Slive’s decisions and neither involve Saban and his peers.

One is how the new postseason shakes out, or, more specifically, whether Saban is correct about how important strength of schedule turns out to be in the selection committee’s eyes.  The thing is, as Stanford’s head coach points out, there are a lot of moving parts in play.

“Who’s going to be on the selection committee?” Shaw asked. “And what are they going to put importance on? Are they going to ding SEC schools for not playing nine conference games? Are they going to ding them for their out-of-conference schedules? Are they going to reward teams that have tougher out-of-conference schedules? Are they going to reward teams that have conference championship games?”

All good questions, and I expect that the SEC hesitates on a scheduling decision until it gets some answers.  The intriguing thing to ponder is, assuming that Saban’s right about strength of schedule, how does the SEC deal with Boom’s whining about the downside for a few schools that have to pair a nine-game conference slate with a big OOC rivalry game?

“I’m not for a nine-game schedule. I don’t think it’s best for our league,” Florida’s Will Muschamp said. “It’s too challenging with the in-state rivalry we already play. You add a ninth game (in the SEC), it’s too difficult.”

Saban’s suggestion that every team in the conference limit itself to two cupcake games a season would balance the scales – not to mention that it would be awesome from a fan standpoint – but you wonder how easy it would be to carry out.  It would take some really judicious scheduling to make sure SEC schools had a satisfactory number of home games every year, because the net effect of such a policy would be to switch two games to home-and-away on a permanent basis.  And judicious scheduling hasn’t been the SEC’s strong suit lately.

But that’s only part of the picture.  The other big issue Slive has to grapple with is programming for the new SEC Network.  And that, too, is going to involve some judicious scheduling.

Look for some scheduling adjustments in football. With the need for four quality games for TV (one on CBS and three on ESPN), the SEC can’t afford to have a weak Saturday like Nov. 17 last year, when the top games were LSU-Ole Miss, Arkansas-Mississippi State and Vanderbilt-Tennessee.

To do that with the current schedule format… well, that’s going to be complicated, both in terms of spacing and in having quality product.  How many must-see games can the SEC produce in a year?  I suspect Les Miles, for one, won’t be very happy with what the conference comes up with in response to that.  The reality is that a nine-game schedule makes the task much, much easier.

The move may be inevitable, as many insist, but the timing is uncertain.  In the end, don’t expect Slive to do anything until he’s fairly certain he’s maximizing the revenue stream that the new playoff and broadcast opportunities are presenting.  After all, that’s how the SEC rolls.

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Mike Slive moves in mysterious ways sometimes.

Looks like I owe Mike Slive something of an apology.

Why now for the SEC? In part because the SEC got passed financially by other conference TV deals since 2008. The SEC had a “look-in” — a review of the agreement — written into the contract after the first five years, although in this case it happened sooner.  [Emphasis added.]

Given the typically conservative nature of SEC business – note that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the conference isn’t taking an ownership stake in the new network – I can’t say I’m surprised that Slive exercised that level of prudence in negotiating the prior deal.  But I am surprised we’re just now hearing about it.

Which is why I say something of an apology.  Because what I thought all along was the compelling reason for the SEC’s expansion to 14 schools – to back out of a dated set of broadcast deals – turns out not to be relevant at all.  So where was the fire, Commissioner?

I don’t ask that question as a knock against either Missouri or Texas A&M.  But the rush to expand has left the conference struggling for two years trying to figure out how to schedule its two marquee sports and it’s clear to this point that the results have been less than great.  Why couldn’t a little more time have been taken to get everyone’s ducks in a row?

All I can figure is that, never mind the serene talk about how the SEC would have been fine staying at twelve,  Slive was a lot more worried about being cut out of new dance partners than he’s ever let on.  I’ll let you decide what that might mean about further conference expansion.

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Friday morning buffet

You’ve just about made it through another working week.  Reward yourself by indulging in a few of these tasty morsels:

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, College Football, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

Kneel before Zod.

This opener is so Barnhart.

Here is all you need to know about the high regard in which Mike Slive, the SEC commissioner, is held. On May 2, for a press conference which had already been postponed once (because of the bombings in Boston), all 14 head football coaches showed up for the formal announcement of the new SEC Network.

Gah.  Maybe Tony’s angling for his own show on the SEC Network.

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