Mike Slive

Slive: SEC Network announcement coming in April


Talked about and speculated on for a year or more, the SEC Network is about to take its biggest step yet toward becoming a reality.

Commissioner Mike Slive confirmewd to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports Thursday that a formal announcement regarding the creation of the SEC Network is expected to be made in mid-April.  Slive stated that the conference’s focus right now is on the league’s and the NCAA’s basketball tournaments, after which details regarding the highly-anticipated network will be unveiled.

It’s believed that the SEC Network will officially launch in August of 2014 — “after the expiration of current third-tier TV rights contracts” Forde writes — although a more definitive timeline will likely be detailed next month.  It’s also believed that ESPN — as in the Big Ten/FOX marriage — will be a heavily-invested partner in the venture.

In the most recent update to what’s previously been labeled “Project X,” the Sports Business Journal reported there were three issues that were close to being resolved, including obtaining local TV rights from current conference members.  Those rights are currently held by the likes of IMG College, Learfield Sports and CBS Collegiate Sports Properties.

Last September, the SBJ wrote that “[t]he Pac-12 had to go through similar negotiations with the rights holders when it started its networks. The league eventually agreed to pay $100 million over eight years to get those local TV rights back.”  The website predicted that the SEC would have to shell out even more to obtain the local rights than did the Pac-12.

Regardless of the amount of money the SEC must fork over on the front end to obtain those rights, the back end will likely be flush with cash.

In May of last year, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork was quoted as saying that “the SEC Network will be every bit as big as the Big Ten Network” financially, a projection with which most analysts agree.  The past two years, each member of the Big Ten outside of Nebraska — as a “new” member, the Cornhuskers are not yet entitled to a full share — received $7.2 million and $7.9 million from the conference’s network alone.  That number is expected to at least double to the neighborhood of $15 million annually per member by 2027.

Thanks to the increased conference footprint with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, being on par with the Big Ten Network might be setting the bar a tad low for the SEC’s version.  Come next month, though, we may have a better idea exactly how far into the financial stratosphere the SEC Network will climb.

DeMarcus Robinson, Gators’ leading receiver, suspended for FSU game

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 03: Demarcus Robinson #11 of the Florida Gators catches a touchdown pass during the first quarter of the game against the Mississippi Rebels on October 3, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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With a game against in-state rival Florida State on tap, Florida won’t have one of its few offensive playmakers at its disposal.

On its Twitter account a short time ago, the No. 12 Gators announced that Demarcus Robinson has been suspended for tonight’s game against No. 13 Seminoles.  Specifically, the school tweeted that “Robinson made a choice and will not play in tonight’s game.”

The wide receiver was suspended for, of course, violating unspecified team rules.

Robinson’s 47 receptions are tops on the team, while his 505 yards are second.  He led the team in both categories last season with 53 and 810, and in receiving touchdowns (seven) as well.

Robinson, who will likely leave Gainesville early for the NFL, has been suspended at least four times during his three seasons with the Gators.

Alabama takes halftime lead over Auburn in Iron Bowl

Keith Holcombe, Marcus Davis, Rashaan Evans
Associated Press
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No. 2 Alabama holds a 12-6 lead over Auburn at halftime of the Iron Bowl.

Alabama’s offense has been typical of the 2015 season — Derrick Henry and not much else. Henry rushed 16 times for 102 yards, while Jake Coker hit 9-of-15 passes for 106 yards.

Adam Griffith kicked field goals of 26, 40, 26 and 50 yards for the Tide, while Auburn’s Daniel Carlson countered with makes of 24 and 44 yards. Carlson also missed from 48 yards toward the end of the half, ending a streak of 15 consecutive makes.

Jovon Robinson led Auburn with 12 carries for 53 yards, while Jeremy Johnson hit 3-of-7 passes for 56 yards with three rushes for 14 yards.

Alabama held a slight 109-104 edge over Auburn in ground yards, and neither team committed a turnover.

Alabama will receive the ball to open the second half.

Michigan State one half away from Indy

Connor Cook

Needing a win to clinch the Big Ten East Division and face Iowa with a likely spot in the College Football Playoff on the line next week in Indianapolis, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is giving all he can to give the Spartans a chance to celebrate a division title in East Lansing today against Penn State. So far, so good enough. Michigan State leads the Nittany Lions 20-10 at halftime.

Penn State has managed to move the ball on the Spartans and even have more offensive yards than Michigan State, but Penn State also has two turnovers that have led to 14 points for the men in green, including one defensive touchdown. Penn State did, however, manage to put together a late half touchdown drive, capped with a touchdown reception by Chris Godwin. Michigan State’s Cook has attempted just 15 pass attempts so far, and he has completed 10 of them for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Any time Penn State has presented any sense of a threat against the Spartans, disaster seems to strike. Penn State opted to kick a field goal from the Michigan State one-yard line in the second quarter. The game’s opening drive ended with Christian Hackenberg throwing deep into the end zone from the 31-yard line, only to be intercepted by Arjen Colquhoun. Late in the first quarter, Penn State once again had a promising drive working, thanks in large part to freshman running back Saquon Barkley saving Penn State on a 22-yard run on 3rd and 23 followed by a short gain on fourth down around midfield. The drive again imploded when Hackenberg completed a pass to tight end Kyle Carter, but Carter lost the football immediately and Demetrious Cox picked up the loose ball and found blockers to allow him to return the fumble 77 yards for a touchdown and a 20-3 lead.

It might as well be game, set and match for Michigan State the way this one is going, which surely is a bit deflating for Ohio State fans. After roughing up Michigan in Ann Arbor, Ohio State needs Penn State to win this game in order to represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis as the Big Ten East champion. A Michigan State win clinches the division for the Spartans.

Adoree’ Jackson punt return gives USC halftime edge on UCLA

Eric Kendricks, Javorius Allen, Cody Kessler
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Never kick to USC playmaker Adoree’ Jackson. That si the lesson UCLA learned the hard way late in the first half in The Los Angeles Coliseum this afternoon. A 42-yard punt return by Jackson gave USC a 20-14 lead late in the first half and gives the Trojans the edge at the midway point of what amounts to the Pac-12 South Division Championship Game. The winner of this game moves on to next week to face Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC was the first to put points on the scoreboard in the Coliseum when a lengthy drive stalled inside the red zone, forcing the Trojans to send Alex Woods out for a 30-yard field goal. It would take two more offensive possessions by UCLA to put their own points on the board. Paul Perkins ripped off a 19-yard touchdown run on a fourth and one play from the USC 19-yard line, giving UCLA the 7-3 lead.

USC put together a 10-play, 85-yard touchdown drive a couple of possessions later, with quarterback Cody Kessler punching one in from the goal line. UCLA’s Thomas Duarte hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Josh Rosen in the second quarter to regain the lead, 14-10. That lead evaporated with USC’s special teams chipping in with a field goal and Jackson’s punt return.