Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Keeping ’em guessing

One more note from that Dennis Dodd article:

Now balance that against the desires of media rightsholders. In general, more is better when it comes to televising conference games. Now take the No. 1 league on the planet and add eight more games (in a nine-game format) and eyeballs become even stickier on the SEC.

ESPN will have an active voice in the discussion. SEC membership has not been told how much extra ESPN is willing to pay for a ninth game, according to 247Sports.

Does that mean Mickey hasn’t told Sankey, or Sankey hasn’t told the schools?  If it’s a case of the former, that’s actually a good negotiating strategy — make the conference show its cards first.  If it’s the latter, though, that makes me think Sankey doesn’t want to be the bearer of bad news… yet.



Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Random SEC conference game scheduling thought

Consider this:  if you’re Greg Sankey, you’ve been adamant that the additions of Texas and Oklahoma, plus a nine-game conference schedule, bring greater value to your broadcast contract beyond what’s already been negotiated.  If ESPN refuses to budge, why would you turn around and give them the extra games for nothing?


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

The SEC’s real men of genius

I’ve never understood why Mike Slive and Greg Sankey are venerated as shrewd operators.  They’ve been fortunate enough to manage a gold mine, but it’s not like every decision they’ve made has paid out.  Indeed, in one important area, broadcast deals, they’ve routinely settled for poor arrangements that have come back to bite them in the proverbial butt.  Slive cut such a poor deal with ESPN that he wound up having to enter into a ill-thought out expansion move to escape.

As for Sankey, he is struggling to convince Mickey to pay the SEC enough to make going to a nine-game conference schedule acceptable to all schools.  The problem is that he lacks the leverage to force ESPN’s hand, and, as Seth Emerson explains, that’s entirely of his own doing ($$).

ESPN knows it’s bidding against itself for the ninth SEC game. The SEC’s only real leverage is that ESPN doesn’t want to hurt the relationship with the most successful (on the field) conference in college football. But ultimately this is the risk the SEC took by going all-in with one network, rather than spreading things around the way the Big Ten did. If the Big Ten were holding a similar debate now, it could have CBS, NBC and Fox all bidding for the extra games. The SEC doesn’t have that, but it also didn’t foresee adding Oklahoma and Texas when it signed the deal, or if it did, it decided that going all-in with the preeminent sports network in the country was a partnership worth any financial sacrifices that resulted.

Or, it was simply too convenient to one-stop shop.

The money isn’t the issue for me — after all, I’m not the one getting paid, and it’s not exactly like the SEC will be missing any meals.  But the commissioners’ shortsightedness continues to bleed over into conference scheduling with suboptimal results and as a fan, that does suck.  And will continue to do so until the next broadcast deal comes down the turnpike.  Maybe.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“We were ready to make a decision and then took a step back.”

Jeez, people.

League officials have been engrossed in dialogue for more than a year over the scheduling format once Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC in 2024. Of more than 40 different models, the conference has narrowed to two division-less formats: (1) an eight-game schedule with seven rotational and one permanent opponent; and (2) a nine-game schedule with six rotational and three permanent opponents.

League administrators are believed to be split on the issue—a divide that, for the most part, is along revenue-generating lines. Many of the conference’s smaller-budget schools are in favor of remaining at eight games, and many of the bigger-budget programs support a move to nine.

An eight-game conference schedule in a sixteen-team conference seems less than optimal, to put it mildly.  The problem is what the problem has been.

… The eight-versus-nine debate runs deep, with tentacles that touch the league’s future sole broadcasting partner, ESPN. Many within the conference are seeking additional revenue from the network if the SEC were to add a ninth conference game. The issue comes at an interesting time. ESPN is in the midst of several rounds of layoffs, and, presumably, is poised to spend millions or billions bidding on a new expanded CFP. ESPN’s deal with the NBA also comes up soon.

You’d have to think Sankey’s discussed this with Mickey’s people more than once.  If he hasn’t gotten any traction by now, what makes him think a new deal is just around the corner?


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Eight or nine

Andy Staples’ ($$) shot:

And let’s be clear: There is only one correct format. Several schools pushed last year for the league to remain at eight conference games. Each team would have one permanent rival and the other 14 schools would rotate through the remaining seven spots twice every four years. This would be a massive mistake, and I don’t expect the SEC schools to make this mistake.

In case I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll repeat what I wrote Saturday in a column about the new version of college football coming in 2024:

If you have Texas and Texas A&M in your league and you don’t have them play football annually, you are stupid. If you hijack the league schedule for almost 20 years to ensure Alabama and Tennessee play every season and then stop playing that series annually just when it’s getting fun again, you are stupid. If you stop playing the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry (Auburn-Georgia) annually so Mississippi State can schedule another easy win, you are stupid.

Greg Sankey’s chaser:

“We’ve been intentional about discussing our ability to have annual rivalries played or rivalries played every other year. We haven’t arrived at a destination between eight or nine games. The number of games will facilitate the number of annual games that take place,” Sankey said.  [Emphasis added.]

I agree with Staples that, from a fan’s perspective, a 1-7 conference scheduling format in a 16-team league is a little dumb.  But Greg Sankey isn’t a fan.  He’s a commissioner who’s in the process of juggling two balls, one of which is the schools that want to stick with an eight-game conference schedule for bowl eligibility purposes (and you thought bowls were meaningless, eh?), the other of which is Mickey’s checkbook.  What Sankey is selling to his flock is the prospect that adding another conference game once Oklahoma and Texas come onboard should be worth some serious money to ESPN.

But what if the two sides can’t come to an agreement over that?  Sankey’s got nothing to take back to the holdouts and from a negotiating standpoint, why would he give away something he argues has significant value?  Bottom line, and I know this is a minority opinion, unless the SEC gets some real money for the extra games, I think they stay at eight for the time being.  And sell the fans on “rivalries played every other year”.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

The SEC is dead. Long live the SEC.

Welp, it looks like they got ‘er done.

Texas and Oklahoma’s path to the SEC in 2024 has been cleared.

The Longhorns and Sooners have finalized an agreement with the Big 12, as well as its television partners, to exit the league one year earlier than scheduled, sources tell Sports Illustrated. Under the agreement, the schools would join the SEC in July 2024, in time to participate in the ’24 football season.

The agreement ends several months of discussions for an early separation and comes just days after negotiation snags seemed to trigger reports of an altogether end to talks—something refuted to SI by multiple sources last week. Turns out, the parties—specifically networks ESPN and Fox—restarted negotiations soon after the latest hitch and were steered toward a compromise by self-proclaimed dealmaker Brett Yormark, the brash Big 12 commissioner who seven months into his tenure has scored a lucrative victory for his legacy schools.

As might be expected, there are a lot of moving parts to this deal.

Left unsaid there is perhaps the biggest piece of the puzzle yet to be determined, the reshaping of the SEC’s contract with ESPN for broadcast rights, which kicks in, not coincidently, in 2024.

It’s definitely the end of an era for the Southeastern Conference, as it’s widely expected that this season will mark the last with divisional play.  But there’s all that new money coming!


Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, SEC Football

The perfect epitaph

It’s rare that you find an article provides its own tl;dr summary, but such is the case with Ross Dellenger’s lengthy exploration of the story behind why Oklahoma and Texas won’t be leaving the Big 12 early for the SEC (the gist being that the schools and the Big 12 have worked out a departure deal, but Fox and ESPN are in a pissing match).  Read it all, or settle for the one-sentence conclusion that not only nails this particular situation, but all of college football for the past quarter-century:

“We’ve sold our souls to the devil,” says one athletic director, “but we love our paycheck.”

Nothing more needs to be said, does it?


Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain

Maybe tomorrow

Well, this should be awkward for some folks…

Why do I have the feeling Fox wasn’t going to let ESPN get a win here?


Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, SEC Football

Georgia on their minds

Sounds like ESPN won’t get fooled again by that “but Georgia lost all those players!” narrative.

Talk of Georgia three-peating as national champion has become the topic du jour in college football.

Seems like just yesterday the Dawgs had gone four decades without a national title. Now they’ve won two in a row, and it’s never too early to look ahead in a sport that never sleeps.

We’ve already unveiled our Way-Too-Early Top 25, and up next is our Way-Too-Early All-America team. There are some recognizable names, as in USC Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, and then there are some names that might not be as recognizable — yet. Not that anyone should be surprised, but Georgia leads the way with four selections.  [Emphasis added.]

If Kirby thought he had problems fighting off an entitlement mentality in 2022, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

A holiday classic

Boffo ratings for the Peach Bowl:

Imagine what they could have done if it wasn’t a non-New Year’s Day broadcast.


Filed under Big Ten Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football