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Univ. of Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said that “the Longhorn Network will be launched in 2011” and may even have a “soft start” later this year, according to Chip Brown of ORANGEBLOODS.com. Dodds: “I think we are on target to be up and running in the fall of next year. Maybe even a soft start in 2010 and a hard start in 2011.” But Dodds “wanted it clear that the school is putting up no money to launch” the network. All the financing “will come from IMG and whichever cable partner is selected to operate” the network. Dodds: “We are not going to own anything or have an investment in it.” Dodds is “hopeful the programming on the Longhorn Network will include one football game and 'some number of basketball games.'” Dodds said “there are three entities” interested in operating the Longhorn Network, including “a leader in the clubhouse.” Dodds: “The one we are looking at, walks in with 500,000 subscribers the day we turn the key.” He added, “It’s just got a lot of parts to it that are very positive. It’s not exclusively athletics, probably 20 percent of the programming would be centered around the university and non-athletic programming. It could be anything we want to make it, but it’s got to be something people want to see.” Brown noted ADs from Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech recently met with Learfield officials “to explore possibilities of forming their own network.” Dodds said, “I think OU and Missouri want their own. That’s somebody else’s business. It doesn’t change anything we’re doing” (ORANGEBLOODS.com, 9/8).
NAME RECOGNITION: Raycom Sports and the ACC have announced that beginning this season, the Raycom Sports Regional Syndicated package of ACC football and basketball broadcasts will be branded as the ACC Network. The new marketing initiative will feature ACC Network graphics and designations beginning with Saturday's Duke-Wake Forest football game. The ACC Network branding was part of the new TV rights agreements between the ACC, Raycom Sports and ESPN that begins with the ’11 football season (Raycom).
Yankees President Randy Levine yesterday "fired verbal shots at an upcoming ESPN documentary on George Steinbrenner, calling it 'disjointed' and 'the usual news at 6,'" according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The film, "The House of Steinbrenner," was produced by Barbara Kopple and will premiere Sept. 21 as part of ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series. Levine said, "It was very disappointing to watch the film. She had unbelievable access to the Yankees. ... I'm not sure where she was trying to go with the story. As somebody who is an admirer of hers, I just think she swung and missed at this one." He added, "I don't mind people's opinions whether they are critical or not critical. I just thought from a great filmmaker it would say something." Levine stressed that he was "just putting on his critic hat and not speaking for the organization" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/9). On Long Island, Neil Best notes the documentary "focuses on the transitions from old to new Yankee Stadium and from George Steinbrenner to a new generation of ownership." Levine said, "Except for the interview with Hal (Steinbrenner), which I thought was exceptional and really should have been expanded, the rest of the documentary is really old, regurgitated stuff, much of it found on the News at 6, and the message of what it was trying to convey I thought was very confusing." Kopple said, "I'm very sad. I really wanted (Levine) to like it." Kopple let Yankees officials view "The House of Steinbrenner" in advance of its first public screening on Tuesday. Best notes after that screening, N.Y. Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo said that the Yankees "asked him to have a portion of his interview in which he discussed Hank and Hal Steinbrenner removed." Gallo said that "he agreed it could have been misinterpreted and asked Kopple to delete it, and she agreed" (NEWSDAY, 9/9).
WORTH A CLOSER LOOK? In N.Y., Richard Sandomir wrote Kopple "attempts too much" with her documentary by "following too many narrative strands and talking to too many people with predictable things to say." There is "little new here about the Steinbrenners," though Kopple's "inescapable problem was the unavailability of the elder Steinbrenner through illness" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/8). But NEWSDAY's Best wrote under the header, "'The House Of Steinbrenner' Is Worth A Look." The centerpiece of the documentary is a "rare extended interview with Hal in which he discusses the differences between him and his father, including his preference for order and calm" (NEWSDAY, 9/8).
A Nationals spokesperson yesterday, when asked about former MASN analyst Rob Dibble, said that the team will "make no further comment beyond what was said last week -- that Dibble would not be broadcasting games going forward." In DC, Leonard Shapiro noted Dibble "clearly had plenty of passionate supporters, judging from the number of comments posted to last week's column as well as many e-mails and telephone calls." The Nationals "at least owe some sort of explanation to their fans about a popular broadcaster who also was obviously highly controversial, but also extremely entertaining to many viewers." Shapiro noted fans should not "be surprised if the Nationals use the final month of the season to slip a potential candidate for Dibble's old job into the booth" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/8).
WELCOME HOME: In Ottawa, Bruce Garrioch reported Rogers Sportsnet Tuesday announced that former NHL Panthers TV analyst Denis Potvin will serve as an analyst "on 52 Senators' TV broadcasts this season." Potvin, who was let go by the Panthers last year "for financial reasons," was born in Hull, Ontario, and is "one of the best players to put on an Ottawa 67's uniform." Potvin played five seasons with the OHL club (OTTAWA SUN, 9/8). Potvin replaces Garry Galley, "who has become a 'Hockey Night in Canada' regular" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/8). Meanwhile, MSG named Butch Goring TV analyst for Islanders games. The former Islanders coach and C has served as an analyst on the net's "Hockey Night Live!" show since '07. He will be joined in the booth this season by play-by-play announcer Howie Rose (MSG).
OUT OF THE BULLPEN: In Cincinnati, John Kiesewetter noted neither Reds TV announcers Thom Brennaman nor Paul Keels were "available this week" for the team's series against the Rockies, so FS Ohio paired analyst Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley "for the first time." FS Ohio VP Tom Farmer said that the net does not like "switching announcers in the middle of a series, so for continuity" Welsh and Brantley called the entire series. With the "start of football season, Brennaman and Keels also won't be available this weekend," so former Reds broadcaster George Grande "will come out of retirement" for Saturday's Pirates-Reds game on the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit (CINCINNATI.com, 9/7).
REPORT FROM THE SIDELINES: FSN Pittsburgh has hired FS Arizona sideline reporter Lacee Collins as a reporter. Collins will serve as a reporter for live events including Pirates, Penguins and high school football games (FSN).