Tag Archives: Mike Slive

Would you buy a used TV contract from this conference?

I doubt anyone is surprised to hear that CBS has been able to bump its ad prices for SEC telecasts up 10% over last year (h/t MrSEC.com).  But the fine print might surprise you.

… Buyers say there will be a lot of college football games to advertise in this season, especially with Fox adding primetime games to its schedule. But CBS’ SEC package has a limited number of high-rated games with top-ranked teams and the threat of a potential sellout is pushing agencies to do business now and pay CBS’ price.  [Emphasis added.]

Get that?  It’s not the new teams and the new markets driving the increase.  It’s the teams that were already conference members, highly ranked this season – like Alabama, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina – that are.

Now maybe there’s added value we’re not seeing yet.  But that CBS is already getting a premium without even knowing what the final product looks like should tell you everything you need to know about how badly Mike Slive and his crack team of negotiators undervalued the conference when it struck those deals with CBS and ESPN.  And – no offense to everyone at Missouri and Texas A&M – what an awkward move the conference had to make with expansion to correct its error.

Gee, I wonder how the SEC will do with the next set of broadcast deals.  A sixteen-school conference may be just around the corner.

24 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Conference expansion and a half-assed defense of Les Miles

While showering this morning, it occurred to me that there’s another possible explanation that explains Les Miles’ sudden embrace of Steve Spurrier’s division record über alles proposal.  Miles isn’t being gutless so much as calculating.  He’s playing some version of three-dimensional chess against the SEC office.

Don’t scoff.  Here’s the math as he sees it.  LSU has Florida as a permanent cross-division opponent.  Even if you don’t believe Will Muschamp is the second coming of Steve Spurrier, the Gators recruit too well over time ever to be any less than a tough out.  Now, Auburn has Georgia and TAMU winds up with South Carolina.  But that SOB Saban has an enfeebled Tennessee that’s in the midst of a rebuilding program that seems to have gone on for half a decade now (and if SOD gets canned after this season probably has another five years to go).  And the rest of Miles’ division gets the Jugdish, Mohammet and Lonny of the East.

That wasn’t so great when you played three cross-division opponents, but it was tolerable because things rotated often enough to spread the burdens and benefits.  But what was unlikely under the old scenario – and, remember, it’s not as if what Spurrier has sour grapes about has been a routine occurrence – becomes a much greater possibility under a two-crosser arrangement.  Going forward, the best hand Miles can hope to be dealt is Florida and an easy team.  That’s the worst case for several of his divisional rivals.  And on the flip side, years like this, when LSU plays Florida and South Carolina, will never be a possibility for some.

That’s what sticks in Les Miles’ craw right now.  So what can he do to fight city hall?  Given that he doesn’t want a nine-game conference schedule, which would at least restore the old cross-divisional equilibrium, he’s only got one other choice:  kill the permanent cross-divisional opponent requirement.  And the way he’s figured to do that is to build support for a proposal that anybody outside of Columbia, South Carolina thinks is pretty silly.  But it’s leverage.  From there, the deal is pretty obvious:  the coaches back off on Spurrier’s proposal and the conference gives up the permanent cross-divisional game.  Who doesn’t love a fair compromise?

Honestly, I have no idea if this is what’s going on inside ol’ Lester’s head.  (Does anybody besides Miles know what’s going on inside there?)  But if you see more coaches jumping on board with Miles and Spurrier as Destin approaches, you might want to keep this in mind.

And if it happens that I’m right about this, remind yourselves that this is what we get because Mike Slive can’t competently negotiate a TV contract.

18 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Your optimism is misplaced… er, I mean, inspiring.

Okay, Jim Delany, Mike Slive and the rest of that bunch know they’ve screwed up and they’re really, really sorry about that.

… At the 2010 Outback Bowl, Auburn became the first team in 62 years to play on New Year’s Day with a losing conference record. Five more teams have done that since then: Northwestern, Texas Tech, Michigan, Florida and Ohio State.

In the past five years, 10 of the 27 New Year’s Day bowls featured a team without a winning conference record. That occurred in just six of the 221 New Year’s Day bowls from 1968 to 2007.

Fans have been treated like suckers. The powers-that-be figured by putting something on New Year’s Day — even if it was undeserving teams — you’d keep filling seats, watching on TV and building up ratings for BCS bowls in the coming days.

For a while it worked. Then enough of you started paying attention.

BCS bowl attendance last year was down 8 percent compared to 2005, the last season before the addition of a fifth BCS game, the BCS Championship Game. Television viewership for all 2011-12 bowl games dropped 15 percent last year from 2010-11.

The thing is, it’s not like that happened in a vacuum.  It wasn’t an accident.  It’s what TV wanted.  And the conference commissioners were more than happy to comply with the request, as long as the checks rolled in.  Now the panic has set in as the numbers decline.  But who’s to say that the guys who drove the bus into the ditch in the first place are qualified to pilot the tow truck to pull the bowl season out of the ditch?  Does anybody really believe they’d place the sanctity of New Year’s Day above a few more dollars?

I can see why sliding the bowl season past January 1st has had a negative impact on fan attendance.  It’s one thing to ask us to spend a long holiday weekend in New Orleans.  It’s another to schedule a bowl game on the third or fourth of the month and expect fans to spend that much time away from their jobs and lives.

But it’s hard to see what difference that makes with regard to TV viewership.

Here’s what I expect to see in the next postseason deal – the conferences take back the tradition of the first day of the year in one form or fashion.  Ratings improve, because of the novelty of whatever form the BCS replacement takes.  And over time, if the numbers hold up, the calendar starts sliding again, because product is more important than anything to a network and TV revenue is more important than anything to a conference commissioner.  In other words, lather, rinse, repeat.

16 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Sometimes, your honesty is refreshing.

The antidote to Bill Hancock’s BCS bullshit

… After conference commissioners met for almost 10 hours, a giddy Hancock emerged from a conference room and — for once — said something we can celebrate instead of mock.

“I can take status quo off the table,” Hancock said.

But this is the BCS. So, naturally, Hancock qualified his statement a few minutes later.

“The BCS as we know it — the exact same policies will not continue,” Hancock said. “That does not mean that there is definitely going to be a four-team event or a plus-one.”

… is this:

“Either way, everybody’s gonna be bent out of shape,” Richt said, laughing. “The way it is now, people will be bent out of shape if it’s just four.”

Ain’t that the troof.

I don’t get the celebratory reaction to Hancock’s statement.  Of course the status quo is going to get reworked.  The fix was in on that as soon as the conference commissioners took a close look at the attendance and viewership numbers from this past bowl season.

The problem now, as it has been all along, is achieving a consensus on what the replacement for the status quo will be.  And as Staples’ article indicates, as problems go, it’s a big ‘un.

Here’s just one example of what they’ve got to overcome.

… Scott would like to see a system that weighs strength of schedule more heavily. “If we go to a four-team playoff, then we’re essentially going to put more stock in the playoff,” Scott said. “The plan, from my perspective, would be a more credible, objective, fair system that balances strength of schedule. We all don’t play over the same course. Every conference has got different caliber. Some conferences play nine conference games. Some play eight. Some play stronger out-of-conference competition. Some tend to not. They just want to get home games.”

Take that, Mike Slive.  (My guess is he won’t.)

I don’t want to say a lot of the debate is insurmountable.  But what they’ve got to overcome in the next few weeks is certainly formidable.  While I don’t believe they’ll throw up their hands and stick with what they’ve done – that’s not where the money is, after all – it would surprise me less and less if they don’t fall back on a true plus-one, a title game after all the bowls are played in which the top two teams face off, as their default.  The fans get a new shiny toy, the schools get another game from which to generate revenue and the commissioners get to put off all the hard decisions that can’t reach agreement on for another day.  Which will no doubt come.

Meanwhile, nobody will listen to Mark Richt.

“Just tell me what the rules are. Tell me what the deal is and we’ll play by it,” he said. “I don’t know what is the right answer. But I would not want to change college football much. College football is a great sport. It’s an unbelievable regular season. Probably more exciting than any regular season in any sport. So we want to be careful to make sure we know what we’re looking for.”

**************************************************************************************

UPDATE:  A sixteen-team playoff is off the table.  For now.  Woo hoo!

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe…

The SECCG would have been a very different affair under Spurrier’s divisional record proposal.

Spurrier’s proposal to go by division record would have changed seven of the 20 SEC Championship Game matchups to date, assuming the SEC had continued to use head-to-head as the first tiebreaker.

Those first two Alabama-Florida games in Birmingham would have been Alabama-Tennessee in 1992 and LSU-Florida in 1993 instead. LSU would have reached the championship game in ’93 with a 3-5 SEC record, in part because undefeated Auburn was ineligible for the postseason.

Georgia, which finished 13-1 in 2002, wouldn’t have won the SEC championship that year because it wouldn’t have reached Atlanta despite finishing a game ahead of the Gators in overall SEC record. Ron Zook’s first team, which finished 8-5, would have gone to Atlanta by virtue of going 5-0 against the East.

There has never been an LSU-Florida SEC Championship Game. If Spurrier’s proposal had been in place all these years, there would have been four, in 1993, 1995, 2006 and 2007. Tim Tebow would have played in the SEC Championship Game his entire career instead of missing one in 2007 when Florida was 5-3 in the SEC, a game behind Tennessee and Georgia.  [Emphasis added.]

That’s just wrong.

19 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, The Evil Genius

Tuesday morning buffet

A little of this, a little of that to nosh on.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Big 12 Football, College Football, Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

How easy is it to build a better bowl experience?

For all the crap that was tossed yesterday in the general direction of Jim Delany’s novel approach to rejiggering the BCS, it’s worth noting that another part of what’s being considered for the next version of the D-1 football postseason is getting a lot of favorable attention.  Here’s Paul Myerberg’s take:

In essence, B.C.S. officials would consider the creation of a 10-, 12- or 20-team postseason event. The goal would be to create top-tier bowl games from the teams not included among the four-team playoff “with the aim of providing the most evenly matched and attractive games that make geographic sense for the participants.”

The games would be chosen by committee, not by conference affiliation. Under this proposal, instead of taking the top team in the Mountain West and the sixth team out of the Pac-12, the Las Vegas Bowl might feature two teams ranked among the top 10 teams in the country. Instead of being beholden to the Big 12 and the SEC, the Cotton Bowl might always be in line for a bowl game pitting the top two seeds not included in the four-team playoff.

My, doesn’t that sound great.  What red-blooded American football fan wouldn’t be in favor of “evenly matched and attractive games”?

A couple of things:  first, nobody can guarantee that what a selection committee puts together is going to work.  Those people can’t predict the future.  (If they could, wouldn’t every 8 vs. 9 game in the basketball tourney be a barn burner?)  All they can do is provide pairings that everyone looks at in advance approvingly.  Fine, but the results are going to be just as random as what we get from the bowls now.

But there’s a bigger issue here, I think.  Who’s going to pay for this?  The bowls pick their participants with an eye towards putting asses in the seats.  What happens when, say, the Sugar Bowl is told it will be hosting two evenly matched teams which aren’t great draws?  And what happens when ESPN is given the same news?

For that matter, using one of Myerberg’s examples, what’s Mike Slive’s reaction to seeing an SEC school get bumped from the Cotton Bowl?

I’m not sure I’d get too excited about this proposal yet.

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Filed under College Football

And now we return you to “As The Schedule Turns”, already in progress…

Seth Emerson catches up with Larry Templeton, the SEC’s point man on the scheduling front, to get an update on where things stand.  Somewhat surprisingly, there is good news in that the conference seems to have conceded that preserving the historical rivalries is a primary goal.

“I would say that the permanent games are probably as safe as anything that’s on the table,” Templeton said. “I think there is a strong commitment to keep the traditional games in this league. And to do that you have to keep the permanent opponents.”

Whether that’s in response to fans objecting, the network partners pointing out that part of what sells the SEC is tradition, a genuine sense of appreciation for the conference’s history by its presidents (yeah, right) or something else, I can’t say, but I’m grateful nonetheless.  Of course, that begs the question of what scheduling format the conference adopts with that in mind.  And that’s our next surprise:  evidently the nine-game schedule, contrary to what Mike Slive recently indicated, is still in play.

… Interestingly, Templeton said a nine-game schedule isn’t officially off the table yet.

“It was on the table and is still technically on the table. There have been no votes to say this won’t happen,” Templeton said. “There are some institutions that have some interest (in nine SEC games). I don’t have a feel that it’s strong enough to place in there. But I’ve been in enough A.D.’s meetings where that pendelum [sic] changes from one to the other.”

Now clearly there’s some serious bullshit being shoveled here.  First of all, for Slive and Templeton to appear not to be on the same page is probably not an accident.  There is some maneuvering going on, most likely over money, and the suits are trying to leave themselves some wiggle room.  It’s not just about the new TV contracts, either.

… That’s not to say anyone should take away that a nine-game schedule is likely. It just hasn’t been ruled out yet. The main reservation among A.D.’s, beyond an unbalanced number of home and away games, is losing the flexibility to schedule the maximum amount of non-conference home games, or a marquee matchup like Georgia-Clemson.

“The idea of playing seven home games is important,” Templeton said. “The other thing, you go to nine games, there’s seven winners and seven losers.”

Puh-leeze.  If seven winners and seven losers is that big a deal, maybe the SEC should think about going to a seven-game conference schedule, so its schools can pack in one more game against a Sun Belt opponent.  And the marquee matchup talk is window dressing for the extra home cupcake games ADs like McGarity want to pack in there in the three years between those high-profile non-conference meetings.

The real issue, which Templeton buries inside the nonsense, is that seventh home game.  The ADs and presidents aren’t going to give that up unless they’re convinced there’s enough money coming in on the new broadcast deals to make up the difference and then some.

And no, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as simple as looking at how much more a ninth conference game will bring from CBS and ESPN.  As Emerson points out, there’s an eight-game format that looks pretty good to the conference.

… So with an eight-game schedule still likely, how will it work? The committee is down to two or three formats. One of them, which has the most traction, is a 6-1-1- format (six division games, one cross-division rivalry, and one floating non-division game) where a home-and-home series doesn’t have to happen in consecutive years. For instance, if Georgia goes to Alabama in 2013 then Alabama doesn’t have to come back to Georgia in 2014…

That’s attractive to the ADs, because they keep that seventh home game in play.  It’s attractive to the networks, because it means the marquee games that aren’t locked in cross-division rivalries will rotate onto the schedule as often as they have before.  As for the fans… hey, you got the rivalries saved, didn’t you?  That half a loaf will have to suffice, people, ’cause that’s probably all we’re getting for now.

One possible fly in the ointment for the conference if it sticks with an eight-game schedule is how that may impact the SEC’s chances with the next version of the BCS, should strength of schedule come into play as a factor in how the postseason field is selected.  With conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 going to nine-game conference schedules (and the Big XII already being there), the SEC is going to find itself at a potential disadvantage if its schools play one more cupcake game than is played in rival conferences.  (Ironically, a conference-champs only format for a D-1 playoff, which Slive opposes, ameliorates that problem.)

If I had to bet on the outcome, I’d go with the 6-1-1, non-home and home arrangement in the short run, with the conference keeping an eye on its impact on the national title front.  Look to see if Slive negotiates a back door in the new TV deals allowing the conference to reopen things if it elects to go to a nine-game arrangement down the road.  Hopefully he’ll do a better job on revisiting the broadcast contract arrangements than he did last time, seeing as that’s how the SEC has gotten into its current scheduling mess in the first place.

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Filed under SEC Football

“Mike Slive’s Master Plan About To Come Into Devastating Focus”

April Fools!

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Filed under ACC Football, SEC Football

That nine-game conference schedule ain’t so tough after all.

Take note, Mike Slive and the rest of you SEC wussies.

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Filed under ACC Football