NCAA To Hold Summit Addressing College Networks' Coverage Of High School Football
NCAA VP/Academic & Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon yesterday sent a letter to Univ. of Texas men’s AD DeLoss Dodds asking the school to “participate in an Aug. 22 'educational summit' on school and conference network telecasts of youth sports,” according to Steve Wieberg of USA TODAY. Controversy has “arisen in the Big 12 Conference over plans by the ESPN-owned Longhorn Network to carry high school football games.” It is “uncertain how the high school telecasts on a Texas-centric network would conform with NCAA rules or whether new rules would have to be drafted.” Dodds said that the summit “also would include officials from Brigham Young and the Big Ten, which similarly have set up their own networks, and others with designs on their own networks.” Big 12 ADs also will “meet on the issue next Monday” (USA TODAY, 7/26).
OPPOSING COACHES ADDRESS NET: In Ft. Worth, Jimmy Burch notes the idea of showing live high school games on the Longhorn Network has "drawn the ire of fellow Big 12 administrators and coaches who believe showing such contests would give the Longhorns a recruiting advantage." Missouri coach Gary Pinkel: "It's a lack of common sense to think that network can ... have high school games on their network. To me, there's no common sense there" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/26). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes the network "commanded the attention -- most unwillingly -- of the coaches and players of five schools" that participated in the first day of the Big 12's football media days yesterday (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 7/26). In St. Louis, Vahe Gregorian writes Big 12 coaches were "wishy-washy about the rekindled controversy surrounding" the net. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy: "The good thing is I don't have to worry about that. I've got faith in our athletic director (Mike Holder) and our commissioner, Dan Beebe, and I'm sure they'll make the right decisions." Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said that "'half a million Aggies' and the Big 12 will be scrutinizing Texas' efforts." But he added, "I have enough on my plate getting our team ready to play" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/26). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington notes Texas A&M officials yesterday "made all the media stops, including ESPN, ESPNU, CBS and Fox Sports." Sherrington: "But when they came to the Longhorn Network stand, they passed." Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne is "clearly miffed that the NCAA hasn't already made a ruling on what Texas can air, though he may get his wish soon" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/26).
CONCERNS FOR THE LONGHORNS: Texas coach Mack Brown said that the net "would be a challenge just as much as an advantage for Texas." Brown: "It's not going to be an easy partnership, because they're paying us $300 million for access, and we've got to figure out how much access we can give them and not hurt our chance to have an edge to win the game." Brown noted that net officials told him they "wanted to televise the first scrimmage," and that "everybody would want to see it." Brown: "I said: 'Yeah, Oklahoma, A&M, Kansas, Texas Tech, they're going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can't do that'" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/26). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote, "If ESPN gets its way and its relationship with UT includes covering and glorifying the 16-year-old kid who just got his driver's license, take all of the ugly that comes with college sports and apply it to the high school level" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/23). In Houston, Richard Justice wrote under the header, "Longhorn Network Is More Trouble Than It's Worth." The net is "going to be one long infomercial for Texas, and fans aren't stupid." Justice: "They're going to know the network's reporting and commentary have been filtered through the Texas propaganda machine" (CHRON.com, 7/25). But in Tulsa, John Klein wrote if Texas is to "stay in the Big 12, essentially keeping the league from falling apart, then allowing the Longhorns to have their own network is the price of business." Klein: "Despite constant complaints and concerns, the bottom line is that the Longhorn Network is not going to have near the impact that rival Big 12 schools envision." Oklahoma is exploring creating its own network, but the school is "likely to find out that the interest in any type of network, over a variety of platforms, may have a limited audience." Klein: "The same goes for Texas A&M or any other school in the Big 12" (TULSA WORLD, 7/24).
PAC-12 NETWORK SUITORS: In San Jose, Jon Wilner reported Fox is "definitely in play as a potential partner" for the Pac-12 Network despite Fox Sports VP/PR Chris Bellitti last week saying the company is "not in any discussions with the conference about" the net. The Pac-12 is "considering at least three competing proposals, including traditional partnerships (with a cable and satellite operator) and setting a new course by teaming with Apple or Google." Sources said that the conference "won't create a model in which football and basketball games are exclusively on the internet, or on web TV." Google and Apple are "pursuing what's called multi-platform distribution models which will allow them to be viewed through cable/sat systems" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 7/25).
TIMING THE BLITZ: Raycom Sports has launched a new studio show called "ACC Blitz." McAlister's Deli will title sponsor the show, which is scheduled to air at noon ET every Saturday during the college football season. Speed's Danielle Trotta and former Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden will serve as hosts (Raycom Sports).