Raining Money

Pac-12 lands blockbuster media rights deal

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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.

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.