The Pac-12 Network "won't reach a carriage agreement" with DirecTV before the college football season starts tonight, according to a source cited by Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The net has six football games scheduled for this weekend (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/30). Wilner in a separate piece cited a source as using the word "impasse" regarding the state of the negotiations with DirecTV. The Pac-12 "anticipated obstacles on the carriage front," which is why Commissioner Larry Scott "insisted on retaining the rights to 35 football games during his negotiations with Fox and ESPN on the $3 billion Tier 1 deal." Fans "should not assume a deal will be struck with DirecTV this fall" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 8/29). In Seattle, Bob Condotta wrote, "For now, sounds like another week of waiting -- and time to seek out alternatives if you want to watch the UW game and don't get the Pac-12 Network" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 8/29). In California, Matt Solinsky notes Time Warner Cable is the "only cable provider in the Coachella Valley that has the Pac-12 Networks in its linuep." As of yesterday, the net "was unable to reach a carriage deal with DirecTV and issued an open letter to fans recommending they switch to another television provider" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 8/30).
FOOTBALL ANYWHERE: USA TODAY's Snider & Yu note the Pac-12 Networks yesterday "rolled out its Pac-12 Now iPad app." However, "only the subscribers of Bright House, Cox and Time Warner (and soon, Comcast) can watch the national channel and six regional ones on the Web and through the new app." Pac-12 VP & GM/Digital David Aufhauser said, "I think it's the first time a network has launched on television with the ability to watch on the iPad and the Web at the same time" (USA TODAY, 8/30).
REMEMBER WHEN: In Indianapolis, Zac Keefer notes the Big Ten Network today "turns 5 years old." When the net launched in '07, some "questioned if a television network devoted to a single college conference could survive." Indiana Univ. Assistant AD/Broadcast Services Jeremy Gray said, "When it launched, people wondered if it was going to be a colossal failure. Now it's basically printing money for the schools. It's been far more profitable than anyone anticipated." Keefer notes it "didn't take long for Big Ten schools to spend the money on new facilities, makeovers for old ones and multimillion-dollar coaching contracts." For example, IU in '09 "built a 138,000-square-foot Student Athletic Development Center." Purdue AD Morgan Burke said, "I wouldn't have been able to get the Mackey project passed without the (revenue) projections we received. A lot of us took a leap of faith with the network. Five years later, it's paid off in a number of ways." Keefer writes other conferences "have taken note," as the Pac-12 Networks launched this month and the SEC and ESPN, which "owns the majority of the league's most valuable games for the next 12 years, are thinking about creating a network" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/30).
A deal between ESPN and AT&T U-verse "to carry Longhorn Network should be done by Friday," allowing U-verse to air Saturday's Wyoming-Texas game, according to a source cited by Chip Brown of ORANGEBLOODS.com. The deal would be the "first major carrier of the Texas-centric sports network and could put pressure on other cable and satellite providers to also carry LHN." AT&T indicated that U-verse at the end of '11 had 3.8 million customers and "was available to 30 million households in 22 states" (ORANGEBLOODS.com, 8/29). Univ. of Texas President Bill Powers on Tuesday said that he “remains optimistic” ESPN will reach a distribution agreement with a major cable carrier or satellite company for the Longhorn Network. Powers said, "We're working very, very hard. We want to get it right. I'm optimistic. We would like wide distribution." In addition to Saturday's game, the Sept. 8 New Mexico-Texas game "will be shown only" on LHN. UT men's AD DeLoss Dodds said there is "still a possibility" that a third Longhorns game could be picked up and shown on the net this season. Dodds: "It will be worth it, what we're going through. We're going to win in the end" (Kirk Bohls, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/29).
SATURDAY IN THE PARK: In Austin, Gary Dinges notes LHN will “take over Republic Square this Saturday, broadcasting the Texas-Wyoming football matchup on a multi-story video wall.” LHN will also have a “similar set-up" for the New Mexico game next Saturday. The net's video wall “will be 8 feet tall and 18 feet wide,” and a 30-foot-by-40-foot tent “will be constructed at the park, with four more TV screens.” A beer garden "is planned, as well.” Meanwhile, LHN announced that Grande Communications subscribers will be able to watch the net “online using laptops and other devices” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/30).
Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s has agreed to a multiyear deal to sponsor nearly 80 universities in one of the largest college sponsorship deals ever signed, industry sources say. IMG College brokered the deal with Lowe’s, which will become the official home improvement store for all of the schools, as well as the title sponsor of homecoming at each school. IMG College is the multimedia rights holder for nearly 80 schools across the country, from Florida and Georgia in the southeast to UCLA, Arizona State and Washington in the west. Additionally, Lowe’s will be the sponsor of each school’s mobile app. The national deal is the first to go across all of IMG College’s schools. Previously, the broadest deal IMG College had closed was with UPS for 68 schools and close to $60M in annual fees and activation. Lowe’s annual spend was not disclosed, but industry sources believe it will be in the same ballpark as the UPS deal, making it one of the largest non-network TV sponsorships in college sports.
The Georgia Tech football team "may have new headgear to show off for its nationally-televised season opener" against Virginia Tech on Monday, and it is also possible “new uniforms are coming,” according to Ken Sugiura of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Several GT players yesterday “posted a photo of a new helmet on their Twitter accounts that drew instant reaction, positive and negative.” GT Associate AD/PR Wayne Hogan acknowledged that the "helmet -- white with adjoining hexagonal cells outlined in gold, suggesting a yellow jacket nest -- was legitimate, though he didn’t know" if it would be worn against Virginia Tech. The helmet will “have the interlocking ‘GT’ logo applied when it is used for a game.” Hogan said that the football team and outfitter Russell Athletic “have worked on new designs for a uniform … with many different combinations of helmets, jerseys and pants in the mix.” Sugiura noted alternate uniforms “have become the rage in college football,” and a segment of GT's fan base “has called for untraditional uniform designs to keep up with the trend, which some believe can help in recruiting” (AJC.com, 8/29).
SOUTHERN STYLE: SEC football coaches in a Q&A with ESPN.com addressed uniform designs, and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said, “It's extremely important to recruiting. We look at it as a chance to create energy, not just in recruiting, but for your current players. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but you'd be surprised to see the look on players' faces even when there's a change in the middle of the season.” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin: “I think they definitely affect recruiting. It's exciting. It's another way to brand your university and brand your team. The old saying -- look good, feel good, feel good, play good -- that's a part of it.” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said, “I think kids nowadays do like a little bit of dazzle, but I think the tradition of the uniform has to sort of keep its place. Some of those last year were a little overboard. But if that's what the players wanted to wear, and they play well in those uniforms, then that's OK.” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen: “It shows you’re not afraid to think outside the box, or try something new or be creative” (ESPN.com, 8/28).
BYU's national non-commercial TV network, BYUtv, today announced the launch of BYUtvsports.com -- a website that combines social media interaction and gamification elements. The site is designed to allow fans to live stream or access BYUtv's video-on-demand archive on any device and interface with other social media platforms. Once registered, users can interact with other BYU fans, provide their own live game commentary or postgame analysis and upload photos and videos (BYU). In Utah, Jeff Call writes unlike other fan sites, BYUtvsports.com “provides opportunities for fans to immerse themselves in various aspects of the game -- in new ways, on various devices, in real time -- by linking themselves with BYUtv's vast broadcasting resources, technologies and capabilities.” The newest feature on the site is billed as “an online tailgate party.” BYUtv Digital Media Dir Ryan Holmes said, “We wanted a place to aggregate all of that content. So when you go to watch the BYU-Washington State game, there can be a whole bunch of fan content associated with that game that you are able to look at." He added, “It really is unprecedented to give this kind of access. It's all possible because the football team went independent and because of our relationship with ESPN. We have digital rights that most teams just don't have. I don't see anything out there yet in the college sports landscape that compares to what we're doing.” BYU Broadcasting Senior Coordinating Producer of Sports Events & Programming Mikel Minor said that BYUtv will “incorporate social media often in its broadcasts" (DESERET NEWS, 8/30).
Fox Deportes will televise 17 college football games this season, the biggest college football schedule the network has ever carried. The schedule includes the Pac-12 and Big Ten Football Championship games. Fox Deportes has not carried any college football games since ‘96. The schedule starts Saturday with Hawaii visiting top-ranked USC. Other early-season match-ups will include Miami-Kansas State Sept. 8 and USC-Stanford Sept. 15. Pablo Alsina and Francisco Rivera will call the action (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
SAME GAL, DIFFERENT NET:In L.A., Lance Pugmire noted Erin Andrews will host the new "Fox College Saturday" pregame show that willdebut at 7:00pm ET Saturday, with the network televising the Hawaii-USC game. Andrews said of the show, "We are excited. I hadn't dealt with Joey [Harrington] or Eddie [George] since our audition. We wanted to decide if there was chemistry, and there is. ... You can just tell there's something there, because the three of us live and breathe college football” (LATIMES.com, 8/28).
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK:The Univ. of Missouri's season-opening football game Sept. 1 against Southeastern Louisiana Univ. “will be broadcast on pay-per-view for $39.99.” In K.C., Terez Paylor noted the broadcast, which “will be in high-definition, will be made available in the state of Missouri and spillover markets.” SEC TV contracts “dictate that when none of the league’s television partners option to air a SEC school’s game, the school is allowed to air the game on pay-per-view.” The telecast, which will be “produced by Fox Sports, will feature Dave Armstrong doing play-by-play and former Missouri quarterback Corby Jones as his color analyst” (K.C. STAR, 8/25).
GOING VIRAL:In K.C., Kellis Robinett noted Kansas State Univ. athletic officials “came up with the idea” to turn football coach Bill Snyder’s “16 goals for success into a series of Internet videos.” The 16 videos “have been viewed more than 220,000 times,” showing “how much impact a popular Internet video can make in today’s age of social media.” Fans are “sharing links to the Wildcats’ athletic web site on Twitter, football ticket sales are at an all-time high and K-State reached such a large audience that it didn’t have to spend much money on TV commercials.” K-State Powercat Vision Dir Brian Smoller said, “The 16 videos are so popular that we’ve had people ask us to put them on a DVD. That’s not something we anticipated for a series of short promotional football videos” (K.C. STAR, 8/25).
Texas A&M and Arkansas yesterday “reached an agreement to return the teams’ annual football game to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, beginning with the 2014 season,” according to Jimmy Burch of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. The agreement “extends through the 2024 season.” The two schools met “three times at the facility (2009, 2010, 2011) under a 10-year agreement to compete as non-conference opponents before” A&M joined the SEC for the ‘12 season. With the Aggies’ move to the new conference, the teams’ game “in College Station this season -- as well as the 2013 game at Arkansas -- were shifted to campus sites” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 8/29). In Arkansas, Robbie Neiswanger noted the new agreement “amends the current contract, which stretched to 2018.” Arkansas AD Jeff Long has “been a proponent of playing the game in Arlington, Texas, and hoped it would return even though the on-campus sites were announced earlier this year” (ARKANSASNEWS.com, 8/29). A&M President R. Bowen Loftin yesterday said that the agreement to return to Cowboys Stadium “following the two seasons away was hammered out" between former AD Bill Byrne and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, and the school is "honoring it.” In San Antonio, Brent Zwerneman notes a source “assured the deal was in place long before" current AD Eric Hyman came onboard in July, so "love or hate the idea of playing in Cowboys Stadium, he wasn't part of that equation.” The source added that based on the new deal, Arkansas officials are "willing to give up their regular season-ending contest with LSU so the Aggies and Tigers can meet on Thanksgiving weekend in coming years -- although that's not a done deal” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/30).
NEBRASKA LOOKING TO NEW ORLEANS: Nebraska Associate AD/Football Operations Jeff Jamrog yesterday said that “all signs point to the 2013 Nebraska-Southern Mississippi game being played in New Orleans.” He added that it would “be a night game at the Superdome on Sept. 7.” In Omaha, Kaipust & McKewon note the schools “have been working on an agreement for several months to move the game from Hattiesburg.” It is part of “a three-game agreement between the Huskers and Golden Eagles that will bring Southern Miss to Lincoln on Saturday and again in 2015.” Southern Miss AD Jeff Hammond said that moving the game “could mean between $1.2 million and $1.5 million in revenue for his school.” The Eagles “reportedly cleared $400,000 when they hosted the Huskers in 2003” (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 8/30).
The Nicholls State-Oregon State game scheduled for Saturday at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., has been postponed after school officials "grew wary this week as Hurricane Isaac loomed in Nicholls State's backyard," according to Lindsey Schnell of the Portland OREGONIAN. There has been "no reschedule date" for the game, as the teams' bye weeks "do not match." OSU indicated that officials are "considering the possibility of playing the weekend of Dec. 1 if OSU is not in the Pac-12 championship game or Nicholls State is not in the Football Championship Series playoffs." There "was chatter" that the game might be moved to Sunday or Monday, but that "won't happen now" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/30). Nichols State players "were scattered this week, heading home to be with family members in the face of the storm." The school's campus is closed due to the hurricane, and classes tomorrow "have already been canceled" (CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES, 8/30). Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Brent Zwerneman notes the Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech game scheduled for tonight has been moved to Oct. 13, an "open Saturday for both teams." Some A&M fans are "upset more effort wasn't made to reschedule" the game for "later this weekend or in a city besides Shreveport.” Texas A&M AD Eric Hyman said that the school “offered up Kyle Field, but Louisiana Tech, the home team, said no thanks.” Hyman: "If we had a hurricane here, would we go play in Shreveport? Probably not” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/30).
There are only a few schools in the Pac-12 that "aren't in some stage of major work on their football facilities in what is widely seen in the conference as a movement to play catch-up with some of their peers," according to Bud Withers of the SEATTLE TIMES. Most of the capital improvements are happening "independent of the robust new TV contracts ... that begin taking effect this school year.” The Univ. of California-Berkeley is just completing “its tortuous march … to a remodeled Memorial Stadium.” The Univ. of Washington is a “year away from having a new south grandstand,” as well as “completing a football-operations center at the west end of Husky Stadium.” Washington State Univ. has added a “new south-side complex, but awaits a vote by its board of regents for a west-end football-operations building.” The Univ. of Arizona is building a $73M "center for football operations," while USC is moving into new a $70M football center. UA football coach Rich Rodriguez said, "Some people call it an arms race. I call it reinvesting in the program." Withers noted for a long time, there was a "sort of leaguewide inertia regarding facilities, almost a feeling that such a trend was beneath Pac-12 schools.” But the situation changed as “stadiums got old” and “athletic administrators looked around them and saw better.” Arizona State Univ. "feels Sun Devil Stadium has become outdated and is planning a major renovation that might cost $300 million.” ASU AD Steve Patterson said, "For us, it's keeping up with the Joneses. We’ve got to be able to generate the kinds of revenues that bigger schools generate” (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/26).
There are seven college football programs unveiling new or heavily-renovated stadiums this season, with a total construction costs reaching $495.3M. The Univ. of California led the way with its $321M retrofit of Memorial Stadium, while TCU spent $105M to upgrade Amon G. Carter Stadium. There was also more than $69M spent on stadium construction at facilities for schools below D-I for '12. When the NAIA Lindenwood Univ.-Belleville (Ill.) football team makes its debut on Saturday, its unique maroon-and-gray striped field will likely garner most of the media coverage. Lindenwood’s EnviroTurf will be one of only four college fields in the country to be a color other than green. Colleges plan to spend $683.4M on new or upgraded facilities set to open for the '13 season, led by the Univ. of Washington's $250M expansion of Husky Stadium, as well as new venues for the Univ. of Houston and Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte.
NEW/IMPROVED COLLEGE FOOTBALL VENUES FOR '12
Univ. of California-Berkeley
Amon G. Carter Stadium
Alabama State Univ. Stadium
Alabama State Univ.
Williams Football Stadium
Harlen C. Hunter Stadium
Kentucky Christian Univ.
Lincoln Univ. Stadium
Lincoln Univ. of Pa.
TREND FOR COLLEGE STADIUM CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT COSTS
In Columbus, Encarnacion Pyle wrote Ohio State Univ. fans inside Ohio Stadium “should enjoy watching instant replays and highlights on a new high-definition scoreboard.” The south end zone’s scoreboard “is part of a $7 million upgrade that includes two ribbon boards along the south stands for statistics and scores; roughly 400 flat-screen monitors in the concourses and common areas; and a new speaker system.” The new high-definition Panasonic scoreboard “measures 42 by 125 feet” compared to the old board, which “was 30 by 90 feet and not high-definition.” Ohio State Associate AD/Facilities Don Patko said, “It should all amount to a better fan experience” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/28). Patko said that the former scoreboard “served the stadium well, but it was time to invest in a new one.” He added, “We had to do something. The system sits outside and (replacement) parts were hard to come by. We also wanted to make sure we have the newest high-definition product. … This is definitely the latest and greatest” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/27).
MUCH NEEDED SPACE: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff wrote Missouri AD Mike Alden discussed upgrades to the facilities Tuesday at a Tiger Club booster meeting. Kerkhoff noted the upgrades, totaling $200M, “will improve facilities for football, baseball, softball, golf and tennis." Faurot Field will be “expanded to about 81,000 by 2015, but some changes will happen earlier.” Next season, the concourse in the “North end zone will be expanded, which means the rock M will be moved closer to the field.” Missouri “needs more fan space there because of an SEC rule that prohibits pass-outs during a game” (K.C. STAR, 8/29).
DEBUTING THIS WEEKEND: Indiana Univ. yesterday announced Fanfare Tickets has secured naming rights to the Stadium Club at Memorial Stadium. The new "Fanfare Tickets Stadium Club" will be located on the fourth level and finishing touches are currently being made to signage in advance of the Hoosiers' home opener Saturday against Indiana State at 8pm ET (Indiana Univ.).