Raining Money

Pac-12 lands blockbuster media rights deal


Move over SEC and Big Ten, and make some room at the big boy television rights table.  You’ve got some additional — and well-heeled — company.

Following up on reports that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott (pictured, right) (not really) was hoping to land a deal in the very affluent neighborhood of $225-$250 million a year, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that the newly-expanded conference has done just that.

According to the publication, and citing multiple unnamed sources, the Pac-12 has agreed to a media rights deal with ESPN and Fox that is worth more than $2.7B over 12 years.  That averages out to $225 million annually, more than triple what the conference’s current deal with the same broadcast entities paid out.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, Comcast/NBC Universal pulled out of the bidding last week for the rights package to the conference, the SBD reports.

ESPN, the website writes, has committed to carrying an unknown number of football games in primetime on ABC, while FOX will air games in primetime on both their broadcast channels and cable channel F/X.  ESPN and FOX will rotate the televising of the conference’s newly-minted championship game.

The Pac-12’s new deal trumps that of the Big Ten (estimated $212 annually in their deals with ESPN, CBS and the Big Ten Network) and SEC ($205 million, ESPN and CBS), and involves not only football, but basketball and Olympic sports as well.  It should also be noted that, when the current deals of the SEC and Big Ten expire in the future and are open for bidding, they will likely blow the Pac-12’s new landmark deal out of the water.

Regardless of how long this new deal remains the collegiate benchmark, though, kudos to Commissioner Scott and his team for what they’ve accomplished over the past several months and in wringing every last dollar out of a pair of networks.  Excellent, excellent work Mr. Scott.  You’re bosses should be proud.  And ready to give you a well-deserved raise.

UPDATED 10:28 a.m. ET: After Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News noted on Twitter that the schools in the Pac-12 would average $18.75 million annually under the new deal, Kyle Veazey of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger noted back that each SEC school pulled in $18.3 million in 2009-2010.

UPDATED 11:39 a.m. ET: The New York Times is reporting that the actual numbers on the new Pac-12 deal are even more astounding than initially reported.  According to the Times, the conference will receive $250 million annually, more than quadruple their previous revenue from the same media stream.  Using the Times‘ set of numbers, each individual school would receive roughly $21 million annually.

In addition to the agreements reached with FOX and ESPN, the Pac-12 will also create its own television network.  Unlike the Big Ten Network, however, the Pac-12’s network will be wholly owned by the conference.  The downside of that arrangement is all of the risk, including start-up costs from scratch, falls squarely on the conference.  The upside, however, is that all of the profit will tumble directly into the conference’s coffers.

The Pac-12 is expected to officially announce the new deals, which will go into effect for the 2012-2013 school year, Wednesday.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
Associated Press
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury