SBD/Issue 244/College Football Preview

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  • ESPN, BYU Agree To Eight-Year TV Deal For Home Football Games

    Holmoe Announces Eight-Year TV Deal With
    ESPN, Six-Game Deal With Notre Dame

    ESPN and Brigham Young Univ. yesterday announced an eight-year agreement that gives the net exclusive rights to BYU home football games during the '11-18 college football seasons. ESPN has an option to extend the agreement through '19. ESPN receives first selection rights to all BYU home games and any neutral site matchup where BYU is the designated home team. As part of the agreement, an annual minimum of three BYU home games will air on ESPN, ABC or ESPN2, including telecasts on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There will be an annual minimum of one BYU home game on ESPNU (ESPN). ESPN also agreed that any BYU games it does not select may be televised live on BYUtv. BYUtv also can air same-day rebroadcasts of every game ESPN has rights to through conference agreements with the host team (BYU). In Utah, Jeff Call notes while ESPN "works to line up attractive matchups for BYU, the Cougars will face a steady diet of Western Athletic Conference opponents in 2011 and 2012," as the WAC yesterday agreed to play "nine games in those seasons against BYU." BYU AD Tom Holmoe yesterday also announced that the school and Notre Dame have "agreed to a six-game football contract that will run through 2020" (DESERET NEWS, 9/2).

    DEAL DELIVERS MONEY, EXPOSURE: In Sale Lake City, Michael Lewis writes under the header, "New TV Deal Gives Cougars National Exposure They Crave." Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources indicated that BYU "could reap between $800,000 and $1.2 million per home game -- considerably more" than the $1.3-1.5M the school "earned annually from the Mountain West's television arrangement." The deal will "vastly expand the potential audience for Cougar games ... but it also will help the Cougs fill their annual 12-game schedule by enlisting ESPN as a partner to help arrange matchups." Lewis notes ESPN "owns a handful of postseason bowl games where the Cougars could end up, and could help influence negotiations to establish criteria for the Cougars to earn an automatic berth" into the BCS (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/2). BYU President Cecil Samuelson and Holmoe said that the reasons for the school declaring its independence in football were "twofold: access and exposure." Samuelson added that the "'driving force' behind BYU's quest for football independence was to secure broad and nationwide television access to BYU athletic contests for the school's fans around the world." Holmoe: "This is something we have been working on for about five years." But Holmoe acknowledged that it was "sparked by Utah's June announcement that it was jumping to the Pac-10 in 2011, a lucrative move that threatened to leave the Cougars far below their instate rival's earning potential in television revenue" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/2). ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Dave Brown said that ESPN "could pull together games for the Cougars in football and basketball," though he "refuted the idea that ESPN could take a [formal] broker role to get BYU a BCS slot" (DESERET NEWS, 9/2).

    JUSTIFYING THE MOVE: In Salt Lake City, Kurt Kragthorpe writes the eight-year deal with ESPN and six-year deal with Notre Dame "justify BYU's efforts." Kraghtorpe: "BYU now becomes the Notre Dame of ESPN, for promotional value. That in itself makes BYU's move more of an achievement than a desperate act, more a case of forward thinking than sideways fleeing" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/2). ESPN's Joe Schad: "This now gives them an opportunity to stand alone, make some unilateral decisions, and they'll be able to spread the ideals of the Mormon faith to television viewers throughout the country." ESPN's Trevor Matich, a BYU alum, said the school’s “mindset is that they are a national brand-name program that's kind of stuck in a shoe box because most of their fans around the country can't find them on TV right now. This will give them national exposure that will help recruiting, that will help their national posture" ("College Football Live," ESPN, 9/1).

    Thompson (r) Considering MWC-Conference
    USA Joint Football Championship Game

    IN-GAME ADJUSTMENTS: In Colorado, Frank Schwab notes with the departure of BYU, the MWC's "next move will almost certainly involve Conference USA." MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said that "merging the conferences was less likely than having a joint football championship game," which would "hopefully lead to an automatic qualifier spot" in the BCS. Thompson added that there has "only been a three-hour meeting between him and C-USA officials, but some agreement will be discussed further." Schwab notes the "biggest problem with BYU was the television contract, and Thompson acknowledged the conference will work on distribution issues." Thompson said that he "doesn't think the conference's plan, using its own network The mtn. to broadcast games was flawed, because many conferences don't get the exposure that the Mountain West does." But he did acknowledged that he "wants the network to be in more households." Thompson: "Distribution is huge. Unfortunately people thought this was going to be an ESPN equivalent" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 9/2). Thompson said of BYU's decision to leave the conference, "It's become more and more apparent that college athletic conferences are nothing more than a consortium of institutions for the purposes of scheduling, officiating, marketing and TV rights. Everybody's got their own self-interests, and things have really changed" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/2). Meanwhile, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson yesterday said that the conference, which is losing Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State to the MWC, is "considering any and all options when it comes to expansion." Benson: "We will entertain all options, all membership models. We are also announcing the creation of a membership committee that will evaluate prospective members" (DESERET NEWS, 9/2).

    SOME GAIN, MANY SUFFER: ESPN.com's Andy Katz noted BYU will move to the West Coast Conference for all of its non-football sports, and "opening up the Salt Lake City-Provo market to the WCC is a major coup for the league -- which makes it hard to ignore what a significant blow this is to the MWC." The MWC "lost the heart of its league in seeing Utah go off to the soon-to-be named Pac-12 in 2011-12 and BYU next season to the WCC." But "no one would debate that the WAC was the biggest loser among all this nationwide shuffling" (ESPN.com, 9/1). FANHOUSE.com's Brett McMurphy wrote BYU declaring football independence "will basically kill, or at least seriously maim, every conference not named the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, ACC or Big East" (FANHOUSE.com, 9/1).

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  • Chick-fil-A Kickoff Planning To Expand To Multiple Games

    Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game Hopes To Mirror
    NFL With Extended Opening Weekend In Future

    The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta "plans to expand from a season-opening game into a long weekend of college football that will rival the NFL's celebration on the first weekend of play," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The game, which this year features LSU-North Carolina facing off Saturday at the Georgia Dome, began in '08. In its first two years the game has "produced solid matchups with highly ranked teams, but future events could incorporate a game on the Thursday night before Labor Day weekend, a Saturday night game and possibly" College Football HOF inductions "on the Friday between." The Thursday game "could start as early as 2012, while the hall opens in 2013." Chick-fil-A Bowl President & CEO Gary Stokan, who is directing the HOF's move from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta, said of the Kickoff Game, "Now we're really talking about blowing it out." Smith notes an "expanded weekend of season-opening football would help the Chick-fil-A Kickoff stay a step ahead of some eager competitors who, like the Atlanta organizers, are working with ESPN to create marquee matchups." Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said that the conference has "begun talks with the Big Ten about a season-opening game in Pasadena's Rose Bowl, but it won't happen until 2012 at the earliest" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/30 issue).

    GROWING TREND: In N.Y., Harvey Araton wrote Monday's Boise State-Virginia Tech game is the "Super Bowl of the nonconference portion of the college football season," and "fittingly, it will be played in a stadium of professional gladiators," FedExField. Boise State "has been guaranteed $1.25 million for the opportunity to get a high-quality victory under its belt," while Virginia Tech will earn $2.35M "to make sure its fan base carpools its way east so the ESPN cameras will not reveal too many empty seats for the prime-time showing." Redskins CMO Mitch Gershman said the team's "expectations are that the game will be a sellout." FedExField also will host the Nov. 20 Penn State-Indiana game after Indiana was "promised a cool $3 million" to give up its home game. Gershman said that "'creating a year-round relationship' with the team's season-ticket and suite holders was the primary impetus behind its hunger for college football business" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29). In Houston, Joseph Duarte noted 16 college games "will be played at NFL stadiums across the nation" this season, and "two other games will be played at Major League Baseball stadiums." With more schools "willing to swap home dates for neutral-site locations, major venues such as Reliant Stadium, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the Alamodome in San Antonio are aggressively pursuing college matchups." Reasons for schools moving home dates include "playing in front of big crowds at modern NFL venues, catering to large alumni groups and reaching potential recruits." The "financial windfall also can be considerable for participating schools." Oklahoma last year received $2.5M "for moving a game against BYU scheduled for Norman, Okla., to Cowboys Stadium" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/30).

    PRICED OUT: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel reported "a lot has been made of the fact that there could be a lot of empties" for Saturday's Oregon State-TCU game at Cowboys Stadium. A crowd "of 40,000 in a stadium designed to seat over 70,000 isn't exactly what the good people at TCU, Oregon State, the Cowboys or ESPN had in mind when they scheduled this game." Engel noted tickets for the "best seat" for the game cost $163.13. Engel: "Everything at JerryWorld is more expensive, from the parking to the seats to the Cokes to the hot dogs" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 9/1).

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  • Univ. Of Miami In Talks For Football Game At Yankee Stadium

    Miami Has Held Multiple Conversations With The
    Yankees About Possible Game, Likely In '13

    The Yankees are "looking to expand their schedule of college football games at Yankee Stadium," and the Univ. of Miami is "on their radar," according to a source cited by Steven Marcus of NEWSDAY. Miami AD Kirby Hocutt confirmed that he talked to Yankees officials, including co-Chair & Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner on Tuesday, and said he is "optimistic" a game can be arranged for the '13 football season. Hocutt did not name a possible opponent, but a source said UM would be on the "top of the ticket" as the featured team. One official said, "It's not a done deal yet." Marcus notes the Yankees are "hoping to make the new Stadium a spot for big college football games." College football debuts at the ballpark Nov. 20 when Notre Dame and Army face off, and the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl is scheduled to take place Dec. 30. Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion said, "The whole college program has ... taken off. We are, in fact, in discussions with a number of top college teams" (NEWSDAY, 9/2). Hocutt: "There has been mutual interest, and we've talked to them about a possible Big East matchup. We've talked about a few scenarios. It's such an important market for us. I'd love to have a presence there every five years." He noted that UM has "more than 15,000 alumni" in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (MIAMI HERALD, 9/2). Miami coach Randy Shannon said, "It's a chance for us to be in the Northeast, which is a big University of Miami alumni area for fans to come out and enjoy the game if we can (get it) accomplished" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/2).

    APPLE OF MY EYE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Clark writes the "relationship between college football and the city is one of the wackiest things in New York sports." The last "significant game played in the area" was in '02, but the "battle to be the city's team will heat up as the decade goes along." Army AD Kevin Anderson said, "There's a windfall, but what you're getting with the exposure, sponsorship and excitement you can't even put a value on it. It's just at another level as far as branding and marketing goes." Clark notes Army's "relationship with Yankee Stadium makes them the unofficial gate-keepers of the stadium." Anderson said of interest from other teams, "We could probably schedule Yankee Stadium 15-to-20 years out." Mark Holtzman, who oversees college football at the ballpark, said that he has "heard from about two-dozen teams who want to play there." New Meadowlands Stadium Co. President & CEO Mark Lamping said that the "right teams draw well in New York," and noted that his stadium "will schedule games that will attract at least 60,000 fans" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/2).

    GOING OLD SCHOOL: The Cubs and Northwestern Univ. have announced that Allstate will be the official sponsor of the Nov. 20 Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field. The Allstate Wrigleyville Classic will mark the first time in more than 87 years that the two schools have played at Wrigley Field and the first time in nearly 40 years that a football game has been played at the ballpark (Cubs).

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  • Nike Unveils Pro Combat Uniforms To Be Worn By 10 Schools

    Alabama, Ohio State Alter
    Helmets In New Design

    Nike yesterday unveiled new designs of its high-performance Pro Combat uniforms for Alabama, Boise State, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, TCU, Virginia Tech and West Virginia (Nike). Nike PR & Community Relations Manager Cindy Hamilton said that schools were chosen to wear the uniforms "based on the visibility and relevance of their college programs" (The Daily Athenaeum, 8/31). In Birmingham, Don Kausler Jr. noted Alabama will wear their uniform during the Nov. 13 home game against Mississippi State. The uniform "features a little houndstooth trim in honor of legendary coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant." The trim "includes a houndstooth stripe down the middle of the helmet, replacing the regular white stripe." The houndstooth "also will be incorporated in the uniform numbers" (AL.com, 9/1). In Columbus, May & Baptist note Ohio State's uniform, which the team will wear during its Nov. 27 home game against Michigan, will "pay homage to the 1942 national championship team." The jerseys "feature an American flag on the right shoulder in honor of the members of the team who went on to serve in World War II" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/2).

    FASHION SHOW: In Pittsburgh, Kevin Gorman notes Pittsburgh and West Virginia both will wear the uniforms during their Nov. 26 game. The unis are "designed to represent Pitt's ties to the steel industry and pay respect to the deadly explosion at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine this past April." West Virginia "will wear a shade of white 'that looks as if it has a fine layer of dust on the jersey' and has accents in university gold that 'references the canaries used long ago to test toxicity in mines.'" The helmet "has a thin yellow line, designed to look like 'the beam of light emitted by a miner's headlamp'" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/2). In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay notes Miami will wear their uniform during their Nov. 20 home game against Virginia Tech, while Florida will wear theirs during their Oct. 30 game against Georgia. Miami's uniforms are orange with green helmets, and the phrase "The U" is "on the back of the waist band." Also, when players' hands "form the U, their gloves show off a white and black 'U' like the team's logo." Meanwhile, Florida's uniforms "have an alligator skin pattern in the number, shoulders, pant legs and shoes," and when Florida players "put their gloves together, they form the Gator logo" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/2).

    VT, Boise To Wear New
    Uniforms In Monday's Game

    WEEKEND LOOK: In Idaho, Chadd Cripe noted Boise State will wear the uniforms during Monday's game against Virginia Tech. Boise's "silver Bronco head logo with an orange eye is only on the left side of the helmet," while the team's motto, "Bleed Blue," is "on the inside of the gloves and the inside of the collar" (IDAHOSTATESMAN.com, 9/1). Virginia Tech also will wear the uniforms during Monday's game, and their black uniforms reference the cadet gray-and-black colors worn by the school's original football team (Virginia Tech). In Ft. Worth, Stefan Stevenson notes TCU will wear their uniforms during Saturday's game against Oregon State. The uniform's "lizard-skin print in 'Night Silver and White' evokes TCU coaching legend Dutch Meyer." The phrase "Til hell freezes" is "stitched into the back yoke of the jersey and on the inner cuff of the gloves." The "lizard skin aesthetic is repeated throughout the uniform, on the base layer, jersey numbers, pants, gloves, helmets and cleats" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/2). Oregon State will wear their uniforms during the Dec. 4 home game against Oregon, and an orange, "called solar orange, is the predominant motif." To "match the dirtied white look of 1967, the pants color is sail instead of stark white," and an "O" is "used on the front left hip of the pant" (CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES, 9/2).

    WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: ESPN.com's Paul Lukas writes the uniform designs are for you if "you think football is kind of like a video game played by superheroes." But "if you think football is a sport played by athletes,  you may react a bit less enthusiastically." The usual "litmus test -- 'Is it good or is it stupid?' -- doesn't really apply here, because all these designs are stupid," and they "have no reason to exist, except as a function of Nike's hype machine" (ESPN.com, 9/2).

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  • Catching Up With ACC Commissioner John Swofford

    ACC Commissioner
    John Swofford

    The ACC kept a low profile during the conference realignment talk that dominated the news this offseason, but that doesn't mean it didn't have a busy summer. In fact, the conference in July inked a 12-year deal with ESPN that includes exclusivity to all conference-controlled football and men's basketball games. With the football season set to kick off in full force this weekend, THE DAILY's Joe Burger recently caught up with ACC Commissioner John Swofford to discuss the new TV deal, the changing landscape of college sports and the conference's championship game.

    Q: How did the conference realignment this summer affect the ACC, and what is the ACC doing to brace itself against losing possible members?

    Swofford: When we went from nine to 12 members six years ago, we did that to make our league stronger, to solidify ourselves, to better position ourselves for what we felt the future could hold. And I think it’s proven to be true that there would be more changes in conference affiliations. The fact that we were 12 and had enhanced our position and solidified our conference was of comfort this summer with all the changes and potential changes that were going on. We were proactive at that point in time and we chose not to be this summer while some other conferences were very aggressive and assertive. But under the radar, we were very thoroughly and consciously evaluating the landscape and taking a look at what those potential changes and the ramifications on our conference could bring. We felt like we were well positioned. Our continuing belief is that we are solid as 12, and that we like that number at this point in time. But we will continue to keep an eye on the landscape.

    Q: The new TV contract with ESPN goes into effect next season. What new features does the contract contain?

    Swofford: It gives us more exposure and more dollars than we have ever enjoyed, and that’s a great thing for our programs and our institutions. We will move our Sunday night basketball from Fox to ESPNU earlier in the day on Sunday. Our noon syndicated football games will go to 12:30. Both of those are fan-friendly changes. There will be no restrictions on our syndicated games as there are now. Now they can only be syndicated in our footprint. In the future, they can be syndicated throughout the country. We will have more games on ESPN platforms than we have ever had before because ESPN will be the full rights holder. We are also going to be able to move forward with some new media aspects of the contract with apps -- ACC apps -- that will be readily available with more streaming opportunities for our games that are not on television and some of our Olympic sports. We will have more coverage of women’s basketball and baseball ... than we have ever had before and for the games that are not picked up in women’s basketball and Olympic sports by ESPN and Raycom, we are free to take those elsewhere and distribute those for television as well.

    Q: How far did talks about an ACC network go?

    Swofford: We really looked at that very thoroughly early on in our discussions and during our negotiations as well, and simply felt that was not a direction that would best serve our schools and our conference in terms of dollars or in terms of exposures and distribution. We feel like we did our due diligence in that regard. We will be changing branding with some of the distributions of our games where there will be an ACC Network brand for our syndicated games from a marketing standpoint.

    Q: The ACC has two nationally televised interconference games the first weekend of the season in North Carolina-LSU and Virginia Tech-Boise State. How important is it from the league's standpoint to win these games?

    Swofford: We have a number of opportunities early in the season starting with those two, then Miami-Ohio State, Florida State-Oklahoma, and Clemson-Auburn. You’ve got some excellent opportunities and what you need to be able to do is take care of those opportunities because ultimately it gets down to performance and winning games and that’s how you are perceived. So hopefully we’ll be able to take care of those opportunities.

    Q: What would you consider a success for this year's ACC Football Championship Game in Charlotte after having less-than-expected ticket sales at the last few ACC championships?

    Swofford: The real measure is basically a full house regardless of who’s playing. We would like nothing better than for Charlotte to be the permanent home of the ACC Football Championship Game, and we are here for at least two years. Eight of our schools are within a 300-mile drive of Charlotte, and the city of Charlotte just has so much to offer in terms of energy and a lot of ACC fans. It’s right in our geographic center. It has an excellent tradition and history of being very supportive of the Atlantic Coast Conference and a lot of our schools. Really what we are looking for is a situation where, regardless of who is in that championship game, there is enough local support for the game that you are basically looking at a full stadium or very close to it.

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  • Big Ten, Pac-10 Commissioners Discuss Conference Expansion

    Delany, Scott Discuss Conference Expansion
    On CBS College's "The Tony Barnhart Show"

    CBS College Sports' "The Tony Barnhart Show" featured appearances by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott Tuesday night, and Barnhart noted this summer "came dangerously close to changing the entire face of college football as we know it and it came in one word: Realignment." The Big Ten added Nebraska, but Delany noted the conference "thought anything more than 12 would require a really in-depth analysis in terms of how schedules work, whether or not there is a great academic and athletic fit, and, basically, how you would be able to pay for it." Delany added one has to be "aware of the intended consequences" of expansion and how it affects the Big Ten and other conferences. Delany: "We were aware of those things … and we were transparent about what our intentions were. We were trying to protect ourselves as well as others as we did our due diligence." Meanwhile, the Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah, and Scott said, "We didn't set out looking to put together a superconference or thinking about 16 teams. We started on this journey getting ready for our upcoming media negotiations in 2011 looking at all the different things we needed to do to optimize our conference going forward." Scott added any decisions about expansion "ought to be made on a long-term basis." Scott said of adding Colorado and Utah, "I don't think you want to be changing conference affiliation for any sort of short term hit. Our view is that strategically, economically and otherwise this is a major uplift for the conference." Scott added, "There's big dollars involved, there's big value, and I think our university presidents want to see a professionalism and expertise in the way we're managing the brand, managing the media assets and other commercial assets that we have" ("The Tony Barnhart Show," CBS College Sports, 8/31).

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  • College Football Media Notes: NBC Streaming All ND Games Online

    NBCSports.com Will Debut
    "Notre Dame Extra"

    NBC Sports this season for the first time will stream all of its Notre Dame games live on NBCSports.com. “Notre Dame Extra” will feature a simulcast of the broadcast feed plus one additional online-only bonus camera throughout the game. The online program also will feature live coverage of the ND and visiting teams’ bands at halftime, in-game highlights and a live, online-only postgame that will include head coach Brian Kelly’s press conference. Also new to NBC telecasts this season will be the ActionCam, an overhead cable-camera system that was tested in the team’s spring scrimmage. Mike Mayock this Saturday will make his debut calling ND games, alongside Tom Hammond. In addition, NBC Sports and the Eurosport group signed an international TV rights agreement that provides Eurosport 2 with exclusive broadcast rights to ’10 Notre Dame home games across Europe and Asia (NBC Sports).

    THREE'S COMPANY: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand reported ESPN/ABC will air 31 college football games between tonight and Monday, and 10 "will be TV-like productions only on ESPN3.com." ESPN3's production of 40 games this season "will usually be for games that couldn’t make the cut to be televised.” The online games will “get their own on-site announcers, 5-7 cameras and production crews creating TV-like graphics.” ESPN3 also will have its “first online college football and basketball studio shows with Internet-only announcers" (USA TODAY, 9/1). ESPN will air 154 regular-season college football games this fall, and ESPN VP/Programming Dave Brown said, "We've put together a more aggressive schedule than ever before"  (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/28).

    TIME TO SUPER-SERVE THE FANS: Versus has hired Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier to serve as studio host of the network's "College Football Central," where he will be joined by former Nebraska QB Eric Crouch as an analyst for select telecasts. In addition to Frazier, Bill Patrick and Craig Hummer will host several of the studio shows during the season. Also, Joe Beninati and Ted Robinson will alternate as lead play-by-play announcers for all of Versus’ MWC telecasts (Versus).

    NOTES: Saturday’s Colorado-Colorado State game will be “available to Comcast subscribers with digital set top boxes, including those who normally cannot access" The mtn. In addition, The mtn. season preview weekend shows “will be made available” tomorrow through Monday (DENVER POST, 9/1)....Bright House Sports Network and the Univ. of South Florida have extended their partnership "to include more live coverage of non-conference football" games. BHSN will show three USF games this fall, including Saturday's against Stony Brook (TAMPABAY.com, 9/1).

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  • College Football Facility Notes: Texas State Plans To Upgrade

    Texas State Univ. Planning To Add 13,500 Seats
    On North End Of Bobcat Stadium By '12

    Texas State Univ. yesterday announced “its intentions to open the doors to a nearly 30,000-seat Bobcat Stadium in time for the 2012 football season.” In San Antonio, Jerry Briggs notes the project "would 'wall in' the north end of the stadium, adding 13,500 seats" to the existing facility. TSU officials confirmed that the “groundbreaking on the project would begin” after the ’11 season. Texas State AD Larry Teis said that “he would like to have a 28,500-seat facility ready for next year.” WAC Commissioner Karl Benson last month mentioned TSU and the Univ. of Texas at San Antonio as schools “under consideration as potential new members” of the conference (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 9/2).

    SWEET DIGS: The Texas Tech Club, a new private member club located in Jones AT&T Stadium, is on track for a mid-September opening and will be hosting its first pregame tailgate party for the Texas Tech football team's season opener against SMU Sunday. The club has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of the stadium facing west and downtown Lubbock to the east. It will serve as host throughout the season to home game pregame pep rallies and game-day tailgate parties for members (Texas Tech).

    SAY NO TO GRASS STAINS: In Nevada, Joe Santoro reports the Univ. of Nevada “ripped out its old, worn playing surface this summer and installed a new Field Turf playing field" at Mackay Stadium. Nevada's football team will “christen the new surface for the first time” tonight as it hosts Eastern Washington in its season opener. The new turf was “installed for just less than $500,000” (NEVADA APPEAL, 9/1).

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