#Pac12AfterDark may be coming directly to an iPhone near you in the not too distant future.
In a report that is bound to have a significant impact on the entire sports media landscape, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has held preliminary talks with the Pac-12 to potentially bring things like the conference’s football games onto the company’s recently launched streaming service:
More recently, Mr. Cue met with Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott about the conference’s effort to sell an equity stake in its media rights package, valued at up to $5 billion, that includes the Pac-12 Networks and all marquee football, basketball and live sports programming that is fully available in 2024, according to people familiar with the discussions. The conference includes the University of Southern California, Oregon University and Stanford University.
Mr. Cue has questioned the value of a deal with the Pac-12 because it would only give Apple rights to some games, people familiar with his thinking said. He also recognized that if Apple ever secured rights to all of the conference’s best programming, it would need to show some of those games on traditional, broadcast TV to satisfy fans.
It’s not known how far along the talks were (or are) but the Pac-12 has been focused for much of the past 18 months on trying to find a strategic and equity partner in both their conference and its media assets. A company like Apple would certainly qualify for both as it has both the cash on hand and the need to both program a new internet streaming service, Apple+, and get people to pay for it.
Linking up with Apple in even a limited capacity would be a coup for both the conference and its embattled commissioner either way. Unlike their Power Five peers that have limited packages of media rights coming to the market in the early 2020’s, the Pac-12 will see it’s entire sports portfolio from football to water polo come up for grabs at the same time. Scott has often refrained that this is a very unique situation and will help the conference catch up quickly to leagues like the Big Ten and SEC, which generate millions more in TV rights now and into the future.
Who knows if the two Silicon Valley entities ever wind up in business together but the simple fact that a powerful company like Apple is showing at least a little interest in something like Pac-12 football is the best news the conference of champions has had in several years.
The MAC title game isn’t the only bit of #MACtion that Ford Field will see in 2020.
The conference recently released their annual football schedule on Wednesday and among the notable league games is the rivalry contest between Central Michigan and Western Michigan. While this one figures to have division implications on Oct. 17, things are going to be slightly different this year.
Namely that it won’t be on either campus and will instead be played at Ford Field.
“Ford Field has been the location of many great experiences for CMU Football, and this is an opportunity to create another iconic experience for our program and our university,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a release. “CMU’s continued success means out-of-the-box thinking. Bringing this game — and the events surrounding it — to Detroit allows our athletics program to help engage thousands of people who are passionate about CMU.”
It’s an interesting move that will push CMU to over a decade without a win over their directional rivals in Mt. Pleasant. Still, the larger venue and the opportunity to make things an even bigger event in the state’s largest city seem to have won out.
The Detroit News reported on Tuesday that the Chips wanted to do a multi-year deal at the home of the NFL’s Lions but that WMU said no thanks.
The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings, including last year’s 31-15 win in Kalamazoo. Despite that head-to-head victory though, Jim McElwain’s squad got the last laugh by winning the MAC West in one of the biggest turnaround stories of the 2019 season.
They wound up playing at Ford Field in the conference title game where they eventually lost to Miami (OH) 26-21. The venue has been the home of the MAC championship since 2004 and will have the next edition played on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday Dec. 5.
Georgia Tech is loving itself some #MACtion.
The school announced a pair of future schedule moves against teams from the eponymous league on Wednesday. Among the most immediate actions for the Yellow Jackets is that their 2021 contest against Northern Illinois will be shifted to become the season-opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 4.
GT will then play FCS Kennesaw State at home and conclude the early non-conference slate with a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 20, 2021. Their annual rivalry contest against Georgia will conclude the regular season the final weekend of November as usual.
Tech also added Bowling Green to their upcoming docket. The Falcons will head to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 30, 2023. A trip to Ole Miss and the in-state rival Bulldogs coming to Atlanta will round out the Jackets’ non-conference schedule with one more opening still to be signed (likely against an FCS opponent).
Head coach Geoff Collins’ 2020 squad will have their attention on a conference opponent to open the upcoming season as they take on ACC opponent Clemson at home on Thursday, Sept. 3. The two programs will also meet again in city for the 2022 season opener at nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium as well.
While those big name opponents will get more attention from fans in the region, don’t discount a bit of that #MACtion heading South either.
Keeping Clay Helton around wasn’t the only decision last year that upset USC fans. Now the school backtracking on a choice it just made has cost the program a pretty penny.
For those not in the know, cardinal and gold supporters up in arms last year when it was announced the program had agreed to a non-conference game with UC Davis for the 2021 season. Such a contest typically doesn’t draw much attention but it did in Los Angeles as it was the first FCS opponent the Trojans were to play in their illustrious history.
That would have left rivals UCLA and Notre Dame as the only two FBS programs not to play an FCS team.
Then things changed. The athletic director responsible for the deal, Lynn Swann, was shown the door. His replacement Mike Bohn has gone about trying to make amends and recently announced that USC had eventually backed out of the game against the Aggies.
In their place on the docket at the Coliseum that season is another Bay Area team, San Jose State. We already recounted how the Spartans made out quite nicely on the balance sheet as a result of this (and subsequent buyout from Georgia) swap. As it turns out though, they weren’t the only Northern California team to do so.
According to the Davis Enterprise, the buyout UCD was owed was only supposed to be $225,000. However terms called for that to jump to $725,000 after the start of the new year. Because the Trojans waited around they then had to pony up that extra half million for doing something they had been considering since the new administration came in.
“It’s pretty funny. We had every intention of playing that game,” Aggies senior associate athletics director Josh Flushman told the paper. “We just wanted to make sure (if there were) buyouts we were going to get the money.
“In December, (AD Kevin Blue) and I joking said, ‘Don’t take any phone calls from L.A. numbers until after the first.’”
The call didn’t come until February and the school is that much richer for it. On top of that they added a $400,000 guarantee game from Tulsa to replace Southern Cal on the schedule to boot.
Waiting may be the hardest part for some but it resulted in a nice seven-figure gain at UC Davis.
Fire up those calendars, the MAC has officially unleashed the 2020 football schedule. Indeed, #MACtion is here for all to see.
The conference announced dates and times for the upcoming campaign involving their football teams on Wednesday afternoon. You can find the entire slate here.
Among the many highlights for the league is that this upcoming season will serve as a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the MAC. While some specific festivities will be made public later on, it will nevertheless be a year-long nod to history for those in the Midwest.
Just as important to fans of teams in the conference? The football games themselves, which will be broadcasted across a variety of networks. This includes ESPN2, ESPNU and CBS Sports Network on the broadcast side. ESPN3/ESPN+ will handle things on the streaming side.
It wouldn’t be the MAC without mid-week games late this fall either. This year there will be 14 on tap in the month of November alone. Several more also dot the landscape to kick off 2020 in September as well.
In the non-conference portion, the MAC will again have a gauntlet to fight through. Teams will face a Big Ten opponent 11 times and travel to the SEC four times. In addition, the MAC will play four ACC programs, Notre Dame, BYU and plenty of other Group of Five teams.
Defending 2019 champion Miami (OH) open their season at Pitt and begins conference play at Akron on Sept. 26. Also keep an eye for the Redhawks’ home game against rival Ohio as key to the East Division race. The West side of the bracket could come down to a key Western Michigan-Central Michigan tilt on Oct. 17.
Either way, all roads lead to Detroit as the MAC title game returns to Ford Field again. While a time hasn’t been announced, it will be held on either Friday, Dec. 4 or Saturday, Dec. 5.