You know it’s probably not gonna be a story that ends well with a line like “The 24-year-old victim is described by a family member as an Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan” in it.
Daily Archives: May 2, 2017
Today, in a preview of Georgia’s opener against Appalachian State, the AJ-C’s Cy Brown boldly goes where many have gone before with this observation:
With an entire offseason to prepare for the opener, Georgia will have a target on its back and will get the Mountaineers’ best shot. [Emphasis lovingly added.]
Gold, Jerry! That’s so golden, I expect plenty of others to tread down that same path during the dog (Dawg?) days of August. Not to mention September, October, et cetera, et cetera…
With the news that the University of Alabama board of trustee’s compensation committee will meet Tuesday to approve a new deal for Nick Saban — shockingly, his first in three whole years — comes one question: going forward, will he make as much as Jim Harbaugh?
UPDATE: It appears the answer is a resounding ($11.25 million!) yes.
I’d like to think Georgia’s division is on the upswing, if for no other reason than mediocrity can’t last forever, but I’ll be damned if I can muster much enthusiasm for the concept after reading this post-spring summary of the SEC East.
For every positive step mentioned, like Florida perhaps setting on a starting quarterback, there’s an equal step backwards, like the Gators losing most of their defensive backfield to the NFL.
Reading that piece, if you had to pick a team in the East that was most likely to improve — which is not necessarily the same thing as picking the team most likely to win the division — which program would you pick right now?
Football coach Kirby Smart will be appearing in some big cities in the weeks ahead on a speaking tour to a select audience of invitation-only University of Georgia donors.
… The events, which will include UGA president Jere Morehead, are being dubbed “Champions for Scholars,” and are structured as campus-run events moreso than athletic.
“We’re inviting donors that have been donors to the university and have given gifts to the university for an opportunity to interact with our leadership and thank them for what they’ve done for us,” said Matt Borman, executive associate athletic director for development and executive director of the Georgia Bulldog Club .
But don’t worry, hoi polloi, about your access, says Mr. Borman. The athletic department’s got you covered. Kind of, sort of, anyway.
Borman said that there will be some other events in Georgia in July or August that “we’re trying to see as many fans as we can.” That would have a format similar to UGA Days in the past and would be open to a general audience no matter their level of giving.
Borman said he isn’t sure if Smart will be able to be at those this year depending on his schedule.
“We’ll have to look at everybody’s schedule and see who can join us,” he said. “That’s why the details are still coming together.”
Yeah, those details sure can be pesky. Just don’t forget to send those Hartman donations in the meantime, peeps. Smart may not be able to thank you in person, but you know he’ll be right there with you in spirit.
Sure, it’s been interesting to focus on ESPN’s trials and tribulations as its subscriber base shrinks, but let’s not lose sight of what Mickey spends a boatload of that money on.
At some point that could force the market to correct itself and the money that grew and grew for each media rights deal could finally come back down to earth. That would have far-reaching implications across sports including potentially in college football. Television money, particularly from ESPN, has dramatically changed the college football landscape over the last decade. It was the engine behind conference realignment, exploding coaching salaries and ostentatious facilities upgrades. It is the defining reason the gulf between the Power 5 and Group of Five keeps growing wider.
The major question is what happens when ESPN and other TV networks decide they don’t want to keep upping the ante each time a rights deal comes up for renewal?
Just look to Conference USA for how that could play out.
No conference has been impacted worse by the ramifications of television money than Conference USA over the last 15 years. In 2005, Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati and Texas Christian were all members of the conference only to leave for greener pastures in the Big East. That process happened again and again as bigger conferences looked to bolster their attractiveness for TV money by plundering CUSA. UAB and Southern Miss are the last of the founding members still in a conference that now features schools like Texas at El Paso and Texas at San Antonio.
When CUSA’s TV rights deal expired in 2016, the market had dried up. It wasn’t as attractive as it had once been despite adding several schools in large TV markets and television networks weren’t as needy for inventory. Only a few years after aggressively trying to add live sports TV rights for its fledgling FS1, FOX didn’t even bother trying to re-up with Conference USA. While other conferences saw their rights deals skyrocket in previous years, CUSA received millions less. Its schools went from making $1.1 million annually from TV money to a meager $200,000.
Now, admittedly, it’s a long way from Conference USA to the Southeastern Conference, which has the benefit of monetizing the largest impassioned college football fan base in the country, but who knows where things wind up in a few years? Judging from this comment, certainly not the conference commissioner.
“Even in the midst of cord-cutting, we’ve seen progression in revenue,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. “I think there’s actually more good news there than there is anything that’s problematic for us.”
Remain calm, all is well.
Here’s the thing — guess which conference’s revenue stream is most closely tied to ESPN’s financial well being? Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
If not the Big Ten, the SEC could be in the most stable position. It is already generating huge money from TV — the league listed $420 million in revenue from TV, radio rights in its 2016 filings — and can always bank on a large, passionate fanbase wanting its product. The downside for the SEC is that it doesn’t own a stake in its network — ESPN maintains 100 percent ownership — and instead agreed to split revenue at a rate believed to be less than 50-50 for the conference and its members. The SEC is the Power 5 conference most tied to ESPN given it leveraged ESPN’s distribution model for massive early success rather than maintain ownership but that is still far more beneficial than detrimental at this point. The SEC Network is the strongest of the three conference networks — its average subscriber cost is more than three times the Pac-12’s — and as long as it keeps showing football games, that doesn’t figure to change.
Now, maybe that works out fine over the long run. As long as we remain crazy about our football, somebody will pay the conference for access to that… but maybe not as much as now. If the numbers decline, having that middle man starts looking expensive.
Remember what led to the current arrangement — Mike Slive’s initial inept conference television deal that he had to break by expanding the SEC to fourteen members. It’s not like the SEC’s broadcast contracting has been shrewdly managed; as I’ve analogized before, it’s more like Jed Clampett accidentally stumbling his way into millions. So to think that Sankey and his bosses are already on this proactively would be totally against type.
Of course, this may wind up being the reserve fund excuse Greg McGarity’s been waiting his whole career to use. That’s certainly a comfort.
David Shaw tries to thread the needle between “When I was an NFL coach, the first film I grabbed for every player was their bowl game, because I wanted to see what they were like when they were fresh. It wasn’t the middle of the season,” and his blessing on his star player Christian McCaffrey’s early departure — bowl game, that is — for his pro career with this observation:
“Saying, ‘This game is not important for me, and I don’t need it,’ is different than saying, ‘I don’t need it to further my career,’” Shaw said. “The McCaffrey situation is that, I’ve put so much great film out there, I’ve broken so many records, playing in this bowl game won’t change my draft status.
That is certainly a valid distinction and I get where Shaw is coming from. I’m not a college junior weighing my choices, though, and the problem there, it seems to me, is that those kids don’t have enough information to make the best decision for themselves. Couple that with the fact that declaring early for the NFL draft is a no-look back decision, unlike other collegiate sports where you can announce your interest, but as long as you don’t sign with an agent, your declaration is revocable, allowing a return to school, and that’s how you get to a situation where almost a third of this year’s early departees went undrafted.
If the NCAA is sincere about its turning pro finger wagging, maybe it ought to take a look at this. Who knows? Maybe it would keep a few extra kids playing in bowl games.
The next big thing, according to Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni?
I think the next wave is you’re going to see it become more — have more personnel specific departments like the NFL. I think you’re going to start seeing — there’s already two or three schools that have titles of general manager, and then you’re going to see just 20 people in the personnel office just cutting up film and doing film evals. I think that’s going to be the next step and it’s just going to keep growing from there.
Stadium naming rights. General managers. Giant personnel offices. “… and it’s just going to keep growing from there.”
I’d call it NFL-lite, but it sounds like the only lite part is the general managers not having to worry about salary caps.
The American Athletic Conference now refers to itself as a “Power Six” conference.
Good luck with that, fellas.