SBD/November 29, 2012/Colleges

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  • Strong Football Program Drives Louisville's Move To ACC; League Might Explore TV Net

    UL's addition may help the ACC keep football powers FSU and Clemson happy

    Duke Univ. AD Kevin White yesterday following the ACC's addition of the Univ. of Louisville beginning in '14 said the conference is "taking a good hard look" at the possibility of creating an ACC television network, according to Laura Keeley of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. White said, "I don't know how it will play out, but we are in the early stages of that. ... I’d love to see us do a really deep dive and explore the possibility of whether that makes sense for the ACC." Keeley notes the Big 12 has a "grant-of-rights TV clause" in which if a member school decides to leave the conference its "media rights and revenue would remain with the conference for an agreed upon length of time." White said the ACC adopting a similar measure is "something I think we’ve got to continue to explore" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/29). Meanwhile, former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer said of Maryland and Rutgers moving to the Big Ten, "Once you start these conference networks, obviously you've got to drive the viewership and I think that's what this move was all about." Kramer added, "My concern down the road ... is that we become a studio product rather than a stadium product and I think that would greatly harm college football" ("The Tony Barnhart Show," CBS Sports Network, 11/27).

    PIGSKIN PROWESS
    : In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes while ACC Commissioner John Swofford spoke of the ACC’s commitment to academics and athletics in formally introducing UL as the conference's newest member, Univ. of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp said that it was UL's "athletic success that was compelling given the fluid state of college sports and conference realignment." Thorp said, "All of the presidents discussed it (and) I think what we felt what the ACC needed the most was to add the most exciting sports program that we could. That is the way to ensure the success of the ACC" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/29). In Hartford, Paul Doyle cites an ACC source as saying that the "conference's strong basketball schools supported UConn" as the league's 14th member. However, there was "reportedly a fear that the conference's strong football schools could seek another conference home if the ACC did not bolster its football side" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/29). ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson wrote adding UL "was a no-brainer for both sides." The ACC "needs a boost to its football brand, and it needs to keep football powers Florida State and Clemson happy" (ESPN.com, 11/28). SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote the ACC "did something fairly novel on Wednesday." It picked the "school that will replace Maryland largely for one simple and antiquated reason: That school has a good football team." This was not "about demographics, geographic footprints or recruiting bases" (SI.com, 11/28). SI.com's Andy Glockner wrote, "Something finally made sense in the latest round of college athletics War Games" (SI.com, 11/28).

    THE DRIVING FORCE
    : USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti writes, "Behold the awesome might of football." It is "a strange world where the ACC ... swoons at a pretty football face." Virtually "every step in this realignment stampede, from Boise to Boston College, has been at the behest of one sport." The football "monster must be fed, with its television packages and BCS siren songs, and it never, ever loses its appetite." We should not "need realignment to tell us that money rules, and tradition doesn't pay the bills." But what is "stunning is how football has taken over the room." The NCAA men's basketball tournament "is a cultural event in this country, but basketball is a junior partner when it comes time to make business decisions" (USA TODAY, 11/29). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes football "is the reason the ACC voted to admit Louisville to replace Maryland as its 14th member Wednesday morning." This move was "about the ACC reacting to the loss of one athletic program by adding a better one." ACC schools "took a one- or two-year snapshot and decided Louisville football is the safest, best bet on making the conference more formidable for the national playoff future" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/29).

    MOVIN' ON UP: In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes the ACC "is a step up in stature, a giant leap in stability and a league that will raise U of L’s profile, its revenues and its academic cachet." UL has "left a rickety raft for a sturdy cargo ship, abandoning the leaky Big East to navigate the choppy waters of college athletics in a much more secure and seaworthy vessel" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 11/29). Meanwhile, SI’s Pete Thamel said the “most interesting thing about Louisville to the ACC is it was done very quickly and it was done so quickly because the ACC did not want to get outflanked by the Big 12 ("NBC Sports Talk," NBC Sports Network, 11/28).

    BIG EAST AGAIN IN SPOTLIGHT: In Orlando, Matt Murschel wrote the loss of UL puts the Big East "in a precarious situation as it continues to hammer out a new media rights deal." It is "only going to be a matter of time before" UConn could be "headed elsewhere." Meanwhile, the "basketball-only schools in the Big East have to be wondering just what is becoming of their precious league" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 11/28). NBC Sports Network’s Vin Parise said, “I just wish that ex-Big East Commissioner John Marinatto would have held off a year ago on those initial Conference USA invites because I think why the Big East fans are stressing right now is because they’re looking and they’re seeing Central Florida and they’re seeing Houston and SMU. That’s not the Big East feel" ("NBC Sports Talk," NBC Sports Network, 11/28). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes, "Welcome to the Big East, which some have unfairly started calling Conference USA 2.0." That is "unfair to the number 2.0." Conference USA "1.13 is more accurate" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/29). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “We’ve gotten to the point where it simply doesn’t matter what conference you’re in. It’s all a joke. It’s embarrassing” (“PTI,” ESPN, 11/28).

    BACK TO BASICS: In DC, John Feinstein writes under the header, "Big East Needs To Return To Basketball Roots, Rather Than Chase Football Crumbs." It is time "for the league's basketball schools to abandon the pretense that they can be part of a football conference and go back to the brilliant concept the late [former Big East Commissioner] Dave Gavitt brought about more than 30 years ago." Feinstein: "So, what should happen?" The remaining members "from the group that made the conference famous -- Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Providence and Seton Hall -- should join with Marquette and DePaul and try to lure Xavier, Dayton and Saint Joseph’s from the 16-team Atlantic 10 to form a new conference called 'The Real Big East'" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/29).

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  • Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 Face Issues In Selling Tickets For Football Conference Championships

    With tickets to Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis being listed on StubHub for $20, it “might be a sign” the event “doesn't have the attraction of last year's inaugural game at Lucas Oil Stadium,” according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. For the two teams competing this year, Nebraska “must travel 650 miles” and a trip from Wisconsin's campus “will take half as long.” What that means to “attendance and the hysteria that surrounds it remains to be seen.” Each school was “given 15,000 tickets to sell this week, with Nebraska returning about 7,200.” Wisconsin “did not reveal how many it turned back in.” That is not to say "there won't be a nice sea of red at the game," but "signs point to a soft ticket market.” Last year's Wisconsin-Michigan State matchup drew 64,152 fans (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 11/29).

    TEPID INTEREST: ACC Associate Commissioner/Football Operations Michael Kelly said that “between 59,000 and 60,000 tickets have been sold" for the Florida State-Georgia Tech ACC Championship Game in Charlotte on Saturday. In Jacksonville, Garry Smits notes Kelly was "optimistic that more Georgia Tech fans would purchase tickets as it got closer to game time.” But the fact tickets are available on StubHub “for less than the processing fee ($4.95) has already brought on a torrent of criticism and snark.” Smits notes there are “likely several factors playing into the situation.” FSU fans are “probably bummed” about the loss to Florida last week and are “saving their money for the Orange Bowl trip.” A North Carolina-based school team “has yet to play" in the ACC title game since Wake Forest in ‘06, when the game was played at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Kelly “admitted that having a North Carolina team in Charlotte, or finally getting an FSU vs. Miami game, would be intriguing” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 11/29).

    TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In San Jose, David Pollak reports when it “comes to filling Stanford Stadium" for Friday's UCLA-Stanford Pac-12 Football Championship Game, a 5:00pm PT kickoff and “continuing forecasts of rain do not help.” Nor does the “fact that the host Cardinal and UCLA met just six days earlier in a one-sided contest.” When it comes to the national TV exposure the Pac-12 was looking for when it established the title game, this one “lacks the lure of a national title contender.” But organizers said that a trip to the Rose Bowl gives both schools "enough incentive to make the game the special event it was intended to be.” Stanford Dir of Ticket Sales & Services Rich Muschell said that through yesterday morning, about “30,000 of the 50,000 seats in Stanford Stadium had been sold.” Muschell predicted the final figure "could reach into the mid-40,000 range.” Pollak writes the title game “became a significant part” of the Pac-12’s $3B TV contract with Fox and ESPN. Fox Sports VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill said of the early kickoff on the West Coast, “We wanted to put it on the best available stage and give it the exposure that an event of this importance deserved. And to us that means prime time” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 11/29).

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