Pac-12 officially announces ‘landmark media deal’

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Following up on reports Tuesday that they reached a new 10-figure, longterm agreement with a pair of broadcast partners, the Pac-12 officially announced Wednesday a “landmark media rights deal with ESPN and FOX Media Group” that places the conference atop the financial pecking order.

While commissioner Larry Scott would not confirm the numbers involved, the New York Times reported yesterday that the Pac-12 would receive $250 million annually on the 12-year deal.  If those numbers are correct, the Pac-12’s new agreement would top that of the two previous financial behemoths — the SEC and Big Ten — and far surpass the recently signed agreements of the Big 12 and ACC.

The new agreement with ESPN and FOX will more than quadruple the conference’s revenue from their previous agreements.

In addition to the agreement with the networks, Scott also “announced the creation of a new media company, Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties.” The release went on to read that “[t]his new company will control and distribute on its platforms and on all devices, the Pac-12 games not licensed to ESPN and FOX Sports, and will hold other media and event rights. This entity will be wholly owned and controlled by the Pac-12 Conference and will exist side-by-side with the newly announced ESPN and FOX Sports arrangements.”

“We are equally excited by the creation of Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will enable us to launch our own Pac-12 television and digital networks, providing signi!cantly more exposure for women’s sports and Olympic sports in which the Pac-12 excels, in addition to academic and other campus programming of interest to our fan base,” Scott said in a statement. “These new platforms will also provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to control the distribution of our intellectual property rights in sports, education and other Conference and membership initiatives.”

The new deal will go into effect in 2012, and will exponentially increase the conference’s exposure on a national level.  A total of 44 games per year will be televised on various ESPN and FOX platforms, and every conference game will be televised either via the broadcast partners or the conference’s own network.

— 10 regular-season football games per year will be on a combination of the ABC and FOX broadcast networks with full national clearance with a substantial commitment for primetime coverage.
— 34 regular-season games on national cable networks, FX, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
— The remaining regular-season football games, an average of approximately three games per week, will be featured exclusively on the Pac-12 Network.

The conference title game will be televised by FOX in 2011 and 2012 — the network had previously reached an agreement to televise the inaugural game — and will then be rotated on an annual basis with ESPN through the end of the deal in 2023.

It should also be noted that Colorado and Utah, which will officially join the conference on July 1, will be treated as equal financial partners from jump street, with Scott pointing out on the conference’s release that “the Pac-12’s member institutions [will], for the first time ever, share equally in the revenue from the new arrangement, and that the equal revenue distribution would start immediately when the deal goes into effect in 2012.”

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

QB Malik Zaire reportedly sets timetable for transfer decision while adding Harvard to the mix

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While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.

Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.

“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”

The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.

While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.

Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).

Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.

Tennessee hires College Football Playoff CFO for administrative role

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Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.

Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”

Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.