So, I’m back from vacation and taking note of what’s been going on over the past week while my family was celebrating a high school graduation. …
Amid a disappointing showing so far in postseason play by UGA’s spring sports teams and the apparent hiring of a new gymnastics coach, the Bulldogs football program picked up a new director of on-campus recruiting (at last), lost former Dawg Tony Gilbert from its strength and conditioning staff, and continued to struggle to unload single-game tickets for Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Vandy while still peddling a few single season tickets as well.
Ah, but there appears to have been good news on the SEC front, with the conference signing a deal with the Big 12 for a New Year’s Day bowl that will match their champions if they’re not in a new four-team playoff and other conference representatives (most likely the next highest-rated teams) in the likely event both conference champs are in the playoff. This sounds like a win-win situation — unless you’re the ACC, which is in danger of being marginalized by a new big four of football conferences (SEC, Big 12, PAC 12 and Big 10).
Meanwhile, SportsBusiness Journal reports the SEC is finally taking a serious look at launching its own cable channel, probably in conjunction with ESPN, by the fall of 2014. Whether the conference will be an equity partner in its channel, following the Big 10 model, or simply sells the rights for an additional fee remains to be seen.
Either way, both the New Year’s Day bowl and SEC channel likely mean a bigger payout to conference teams — which is a good thing considering there are now two more teams taking slices of the pie since the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.
Speaking of which, the same SportsBusiness Journal article noted that the SEC continues to renegotiate its main TV deal with CBS and the network is balking at paying as big an increase as the conference is seeking, arguing that Missouri and A&M don’t really add much value to the deal and the network shouldn’t pay more just because the SEC added two new schools.
Which prompts one fan who dropped me a note to ask: “So why did we add two new schools to split the pie further and completely screw up scheduling?”
Actually, I think it’s likely the talk about CBS not wanting to pay more for a 14-team SEC is wishful saber-rattling on the network’s part. Considering the deals other conferences have gotten since the CBS-SEC deal in 2008, it’s pretty obvious that even without the nine conference games it covets, CBS will have to pay up big to keep the SEC. And while Missouri and Texas A&M might not be the most glamorous of new additions to the conference, they do bring valuable television markets with them.
CBS definitely wants to keep the conference, which draws the highest TV ratings in college football, so they’re going to have to pay more, all grumbling aside.
The question is whether the increased payout to conference members will be large enough to make up for the fact that two additional schools will be taking a share.
As it stands now, the increased payment the SEC is likely to get out of CBS probably won’t be as sweet as it could be if CBS had more games involving conference members to peddle. What CBS would be willing to pay even more for is enhanced inventory, meaning it wants the SEC to go to a nine-conference-game schedule. However, from all reports that appears to be a nonstarter with conference members.
Which brings us back to the SEC-Big 12 alliance. Could we next see the conferences signing a deal for regular-season match-ups, along the lines of the recent agreement between the PAC 12 and Big 10?
Whether it involved every team in the two conferences or just a smattering of SEC-Big 12 games each year, such a deal certainly would give CBS the kind of marquee inventory it’s looking for and perhaps generate enough new revenue to make the addition of Missouri and A&M worthwhile financially to the original SEC members. (Especially if Florida State and Clemson jump to the Big 12 as rumored.)
It also would toughen up the strength-of-schedule factor for both conferences, which might end up being a factor in however the participants in the new national championship playoff are selected.
And there’s little doubt UGA fans would be quicker to snap up those home-game tickets with the addition of a Big 12 team in place of the likes of Buffalo or Florida Atlantic.
What do you think? Is the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M going to be worthwhile in the long run? And should the SEC and Big 12 take their relationship to the next level?
Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg