The SEC: when your best just ain’t good enough.

There’s only one reason Mike Slive and his merry band are tampering with the greatest 20-year run of success in the history of college sports.

Ego.

That’s a record distribution to conference schools, but it falls short of the Big Ten’s jackpot.  And it’s a gap that’s expected to grow.

The SEC presidents simply can’t have that.  Even though it’s a shortfall born of their own shortsightedness.

Four years ago, ESPN provided groundbreaking money and exposure to the SEC in exchange for most of its content. The biggest asset was acquiring nearly every football game not owned by CBS (usually one per week) or each school (one per season).

ESPN constructed the arrangement specifically to prevent the SEC from starting its own channel. [Emphasis added.]  The SEC receives an average of $150 million a year from ESPN over 15 years, according to the SportsBusiness Journal, which first reported the channel discussions. “We sort of broke ground on major media contracts and I think the others have followed along and actually moved the ball a little bit further,” Machen said.

Since then, TV media rights have skyrocketed higher. The market got reset with the Pac-12′s deal with ESPN and Fox that SportsBusiness Journal reported is worth $250 million a year over 12 years. The ACC’s recent new agreement with ESPN took it from an average of $155 million annually to $240 million.

“The SEC has two issues,” said Neal Pilson, a sports media consultant and former president of CBS Sports. “One is they granted a lot of those rights to their broadcast carriers. Second, some of the SEC schools are already exploiting their third-tier (local media) rights.

In other words, Slive got snookered and didn’t have the foresight to bargain for an opt-out clause.  So the presidents changed the conditions on the ground with an ill-conceived round of expansion that’s taking on the appearance of a bigger and bigger screw up every time the league meets to decide something, simply to reopen the deal it struck with ESPN.

As far as that goes, it’ll likely work.  They’ll get more money, but it’s been at a cost.  Fault lines no one previously perceived had existed were opened.  The revised basketball schedule is a joke.  The 6-1-1 compromise on the football schedule is the best of a bunch of bad options and one that is likely to be revisited sooner than the presidents would like, either because CBS won’t pony up more money without being offered more inventory or because the conference finds itself on the short end of the stick when a strength of schedule component is introduced into the postseason math and the SEC’s eight-game schedule doesn’t offer enough support.

You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the fans.

This is no way to run a railroad.

7 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

7 responses to “The SEC: when your best just ain’t good enough.

  1. Dang Senator, you lay it out plain. I wonder if there are national columnists that clearly articulate this fact? Maybe Tony Barnhart?
    I kid! I kid!

    Its really sad people aren’t looking past this bullshit spin/snowjob Slive is trying to sell us. The SEC just got watered down and less interesting. Kids have to travel farther to play ball. Home games are scheduled cupcake factories, and it’ll be 8 something years before we play Bama or LSU now.Yippee!!

  2. Ramz

    The Taggarts are no longer in control. Nice post Senator.

  3. doofusdawg

    Signing a fifteen year contract almost becomes unilateral in favor of espn. I am sure espn would have loved to sign a fifty year contract… it’s not as if there is a chance those future dollars might not be worth as much.

    Another great article by the way.

  4. StokedaboutUGA

    I don’t think the SEC just got watered down. Tex A&M and Mizzou are dedicated to football and their recruiting will only get better and better now that they are in the SEC. Of course, Tex A&M already has the best recruitign class so far this year in the SEC and Mizzou is not far behind. I am wondering if Texas will start to have to compete with A&M for recruits now.

  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Maybe now people will figure out that Slive is not such a good Commissioner after all and show him the door. He was supposed to be all about the $$ and he messed up big time. Frankly, I think he has been like the rooster taking credit for the sun rising all along. Slive had little or no influence on the success the SEC has had. Quite the opposite. Slive just was lucky enough to be the Commish during the greatest football run by one conference in NCAA history and the SEC’s TV deal isn’t even as good as the loser conferences’ deals.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Alternatively there is the theory floating around out there that SEC games were being fixed so that at least one SEC team would come through the schedule undefeated or with at most one loss thereby assuring that such a team would play in the BCSNCG getting $20 Mil+ for the conference every year and that he was so successful he pulled that off 5 years in a row. The culmination of this was the crowning achievement of being able to manipulate games so that BOTH teams in the 2011 BCSNCG were from the SEC thereby getting BOTH big payouts from that game for the conference. If that were true Slive would have to be considered brilliant (crooked, but brilliant).

  6. Go Dawgs!

    Still no idea why Mike Slive hasn’t lost his job. He was the one that guided the SEC’s TV negotiations, and he clearly got used. The Pac 12 and Big Ten have sweeter deals now, and as a result, the SEC had to torpedo itself by adding two outsiders and fouling up the schedule royally. It’s his fault. Why is he still running the show?