Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Master of the finger wag

Swear to Gawd, between the Beckham stuff and his two top assistants leaving for greener pastures, I was gonna do a mocking Herbstreit-esque “Ed Orgeron has lost control” post this morning, only to find that the man himself has already beat me to the punch.

“Burrow’s comment about ‘I’m not a student-athlete anymore, yeah it was real money.’ If you care about the program, do you really say that,” Herbstreit said. “Going into this game I was thinking with Tua leaving Alabama, I was like not only are they gonna win this thing, there’s a really good chance that Coach O’s got some mojo going right now. This thing’s gonna be around for a while.

“And after the dust settled I’m like let me get my Bama roster back out. I don’t see them coming back next year at all.”

LSU completed its first undefeated season since 1959, defeating seven teams that were ranked in the AP Top 10 at the time of the meetings. Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, set the record for most touchdown passes in a season with 60, passed for 5,671 yards and accounted for 14 touchdowns in his team’s two wins in the College Football Playoff.

“I will say this: as much as we’re celebrating this team, I wasn’t a real fan of the postgame stuff, the OBJ stuff with the money,” Herbstreit said. “The way they handled themselves at times. If it’s just about 2019, great. But this is about staying power, right? This isn’t the finish line of their program. Don’t they wanna win in 2020, don’t they wanna win in 2021? I almost feel like it’s all the chips in, we made it, that’s it and forget everything else.

“Part of what makes Clemson, Clemson is they’re gonna be back and be preseason No. 1 next year. Part of what makes Alabama, Alabama is they don’t do that. Sure they celebrate, sure they’re happy, but guess what: they have freshmen that are watching, they have sophomores that are watching, they care about the health of their program.”

Of course, unlike me, he’s serious about that.

LSU fans, welcome to the new narrative.  We Dawg fans are happy to pass the torch to you.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

You give stats a bad name.

Somehow, LSU finishes third in ESPN’s FPI rankings, behind the team it just waxed by seventeen.  Even Sagarin’s computer managed to get things straightened out in its last list of the season.

Well done, Mickey.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Stats Geek!

The further adventures of Larry Scott, genius

Think CBS is the big loser in the SEC’s full embrace of Mickey?  Not so fast, my friend.

First,

Whether CBS ends the contract prior to the expiration date isn’t known (at least publicly) at this time, but by the fall of 2024, if not sooner, the SEC will have one broadcast partner: ESPN.

If you thought the most influential network in college sports was SEC-heavy now, just wait.

The financial implications for the Pac-12 are obvious:

The SEC currently distributes approximately $44 million annually to each school.

If we estimate $325 million annually for the SEC ‘Game of the Week’ package, the net gain for the conference (over the current CBS deal) is $270 million.

Or an additional $19 million per school per year.

That would push the SEC’s annual campus distributions to about $63 million — more than the Big Ten’s current Brinks truck delivery ($52 million per school) and approximately double what the Pac-12 currently sends home to each of its 12 members.

And there’s this: The Big Ten’s Tier One deals with Fox and ESPN expire in 2023, one year before the Pac-12’s rights are up.

We should expect that $52 million per-school figure in the Big Ten to increase substantially.

In other words:

Even if the Pac-12 were to receive a whopping 50 percent annual increase in media rights from its next deal(s), it would still lag far behind the SEC and Big Ten in annual take-home pay.

That money is used for facilities, for student-athlete welfare services, for coaching staff salaries and to manipulate non-conference schedules (i.e., buy games) to create the best chance for success.

But that’s not all!  What else do we have for our contestants, Jay?

Because the SEC isn’t moving to ESPN just for the money.

Nope, the SEC understands the value of exposure — of providing its greatest export with access to all Disney-owned media outlets.

And you had best believe Disney will make whatever adjustments are necessary once it owns every last shred of SEC football.

The conference already has a Tier One deal with ESPN, and the SEC Network is owned by ESPN.

Add the ‘Game of the Week’ package, and the SEC and ESPN — which means the SEC and Disney — will be one in the same.

Expect to see SEC football all over ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC.

Expect to see kickoffs across all the viable broadcast windows, from 12 p.m. Eastern through 9 p.m. Eastern (which is 8 p.m. on some SEC campuses).

Expect to see more than one SEC game on ABC — yep, doubleheaders on broadcast TV.

… Disney isn’t spending $300+ million to acquire a single game each week because it wants that game.

It’s envisioning a 12-hour, multi-network, linear-and-streaming, everywhere-you-turn blast every Saturday for 15 Saturdays, plus whatever it can leverage from the land of ‘It Just Means More’ for the remaining 350 days.

And that’s a problem for the other conferences.

If the SEC gobbles up more ESPN and ABC broadcast windows during prime Eastern/Central viewing hours, there are fewer opportunities for the Pac-12.

And therein lies the real genius of Larry Scott — not in actually getting a great media rights deal for the Pac-12, but in convincing the Pac-12 presidents that pot of gold is always around the corner.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

“We might be up to 50 bowl games in a decade.”

There will be as many bowl games as Mickey wants.

The games are inventory for television programming, and even if the ratings are modest, almost any bowl will draw more eyeballs than something else, particularly on a weekday afternoon.

That’s why ESPN owns 14 bowls, and the network will add two more to its portfolio in the 2020 season even though viewership has trended mostly downward since the playoff era started in 2014.

“It’s an indication of college football’s strength that you could have games that really don’t matter between teams people don’t typically watch that can get over a million viewers,” Sports Media Watch editor Jon Lewis said. “There are diminishing returns, but there’s a long way to go before you would see a reduction. In fact, I doubt you’ll see a reduction any time soon. You might see other networks try to get into having their own bowl games.”

That is all.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

Thanks, Mickey.

By the way, whoever at ESPN decided to offer the Skycast option for yesterday’s semis, bless you.  After enduring Mark Jones’ non-stop blather during the Penn State-Memphis game, watching games without commentary from the booth was a total balm for my senses.

Feel free to extend the experiment.  Think how much money you could save ditching broadcast teams!

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

Yet another end to another era

If there’s one thing we know about the current state of college athletics, it’s that money talks.  Which means CBS walks.

CBS will walk away from the SEC when its contract ends after the 2023 football season, and all indications are that the package will move to ESPN/ABC. CBS decided to exit the negotiations for college football’s most-watched TV package after making an aggressive bid in the neighborhood of $300 million per season — a massive increase from the $55 million it currently pays annually. CBS Sports execs decided that it made more sense to invest the money they would have paid the SEC into other sports. When contacted this afternoon by SBJ, CBS Sports PR emailed the following statement: “We made a strong and responsible bid. While we‘ve had success with the SEC on CBS, we are instead choosing to aggressively focus on other important strategic priorities moving forward.”

Multiple sources said ESPN/ABC is in the final stages of negotiating a deal that is expected to pay more than six times the $55 million per year fee that CBS currently pays, sources said. Fox Sports execs still are planning to make an official bid presentation at SEC HQ in Birmingham next month. But sources say ESPN’s negotiations are in the final stages. ESPN and Fox Sports would not comment.

CBS plans to carry SEC football for the four seasons it has left on its contract, unless the conference or winning network is able to buy it out. CBS has carried SEC football since 1996 and network execs were interested in extending. When bidding went well over $300 million per season for 15-17 football games, including the conference championship game, CBS opted to bow out.

The math is not insignificant.  The contract works out to more than an additional $20 million a year per school, a big deal if you’re an SEC president engaged in a dick measuring contest with your Big Ten peers.

I get it.  The current deal with CBS is certainly undervalued in today’s market and it’s not realistic for Sankey to subsidize that ad infinitum.  Still, there’s some non-monetary value in the deal, which means jumping to Mickey carries a sort of risk.

The decision to move away from CBS carries some risk for the SEC, especially considering that it has been college football’s most-viewed package for more than 10 years running. The conference will go from a network where it is the only college football conference to one where it will be one of many conferences. Insiders credit some of the SEC’s success on Saturday afternoons with being the sole focus of CBS’ Emmy-winning coverage.

Not only that, it’s benefited from being carried nationally on a non-cable network.  All that goes out of the room.  Instead,

ESPN won the conference over with its argument that it can be more creative with scheduling when it controls all of the rights. With ESPN owning all of the SEC’s football rights, it’s possible that more than one game will be produced for broadcast TV; more top-tier games can be moved to primetime; and the conference can schedule more late afternoon games without having to worry about running into CBS’ exclusive window.

C’mon, man.  All ESPN had to say was $300 million to win the conference over.  Scheduling creativity is a benefit for the network more than it is for the SEC and it’s a major reason it’s willing to throw that kind of jack Sankey’s way.

All in all, this is a perfect metaphor for the biggest underlying story of college football, its steady transition from a sport rooted in regional loyalty and passion to a more bloodless appeal to a national audience.  That’s where the money is.

The sad thing to watch as this unfolds is the way the people running the conference will continue to try to fake attention to that regional appeal as it slowly fades away.  But that’s Sankey’s choice.  More power to him.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“And the person that loses in that is the player.”

One thing I’m really looking forward to watching over the next month is how many Alabama players make the business decision to sit out the most meaningless postseason any of them have faced in order to prepare for an NFL payday.

“Since when is determining to play or not play in your bowl game just about what the NFL needs to see?!? The NFL has known about these guys and their abilities for years. You play to go COMPETE in another game with your boys. And if you decide it’s not worth it..you skip,” Herbstreit tweeted Sunday.

Herbie knows the NFL doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a kid not playing in a bowl game.  He’s just worried that Mickey’s going to have to feign excitement about an Alabama game that the team and its own fans won’t care about much.

That should be fun.  Live by the football playoff, die by the football playoff, ESPN.

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Filed under Alabama, ESPN Is The Devil