SEC Network on pace for solid debut

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If there were any fears from SEC fans about not being able to get the SEC Network, which hits airwaves next month, many of those nightmare scenarios are starting to calm down. Today ESPN and Cox Communications announced the two sides have reached an agreement to bring the SEC Network to Cox subscribers.

“The addition of Cox is another very important step in the development of the SEC Network, bringing millions more viewers nationwide to the network when it launches on August 14,” said SEC commissioner Mike Slive in a released statement. “As one of the largest cable television distributors in the U.S., including five states in the SEC footprint, this agreement with Cox has a significant impact on exposure for the SEC.”

It certainly is. As it stands now, the SEC Network is scheduled to go live with access to an estimated 26 million customers.

It is important to make note the Big Ten Network’s launch faced a different TV environment and had to break down some walls to be able to help sell the idea that a conference-specific network was desirable and worth adding. Since then the Pac-12 has launched the Pac-12 Network, media rights deals have skyrocketed and now the ACC is contemplating the possibility of launching its own network. The customer base expected to have access to the SEC Network when it launches in mid-August is a testament to the popularity and demand for conference-specific programming from region to region.

The SEC Network is currently scheduled to be available to customers of Dish Network, Google Fiber, AT&T U-Verse and assorted smaller carriage providers throughout the region (Comcast is not a done deal yet, but expected to be finalized before launch; Verizon FIOS should not be far behind either). The SEC Network still has to get by the DirecTV hurdle, but there is still time to sort out that one.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.

Stanford schedules 2018 game against FCS UC Davis

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Let this post serve as your annual reminder that Notre Dame, UCLA and USC remain the only FBS programs who have never played a game against or scheduled a game with a team from the FCS/Div. 1-AA.

In that vein, Stanford announced Wednesday that it has scheduled a 2018 game against UC Davis.  That game will, of course, be played at the Cardinal’s football home, Stanford Stadium, on Sept. 15 of that year.

The two football programs have met three times previously, the last coming in 2014.  The Cardinal holds a 2-1 advantage in the miniseries, with the lone loss coming back in 2005

In addition to the game against the FCS program, Stanford also has 2018 non-conference games scheduled with San Diego State, at home, and Notre Dame, in South Bend.  Their Pac-12 schedule that season consists of home games against Oregon State, USC, Utah, and Washington State as well as road trips to Arizona State, California, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington.

Other future non-conference games, with the annual rivalry game versus Notre Dame a given, include Boston College, BYU, Kansas State, Northwestern, TCU and Vanderbilt.

Starting slotback leaves Army for Elon

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Even as Tyler Campbell seemed determined to transfer from the Army football program, head coach Jeff Monken had held out hope that the starting slotback would reverse course and return to the service academy.  In the end, that hope proved futile.

According to Sal Interdonato of HudsonValley.com, Campbell has followed through with his departure plans and has transferred to Elon.  As the Phoenix play at the FCS level, Campbell will be eligible to play immediately in 2017.

A third-year junior, Campbell will have two seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

Last season, Campbell started 11 of the 13 games in which he played.  He ran for 326 yards on 34 carries — his 9.6 yards per carry was tops on the Black Knights — while adding another 71 yards on a pair of receptions.  He saved his best for last, rushing for a career-high 88 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, in the Heart of Dallas Bowl win over North Texas.

While in the offensive backfield at Army, he’ll play in the defensive backfield at Elon as he’s currently listed as a cornerback for the Phoenix.