Sprints is Ready for Its SEC Network Close-Up // 05.22.12

'What is all this about? Money -- stacks of money.'

THE STORY THAT NEVER ENDS: CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT

The SEC Network: The next step in the conference's conquest of the college football world
And good news for SEC basketball and baseball fans, too. (Probably as well as softball and volleyball, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here.) SportsBusiness Journal broke the story that we were all hoping for, with Sporting News kindly reprinting it.

There are several different paths the SEC could take on a channel. It could follow the Big Ten model, where the conference is a 49 percent owner of Big Ten Network with Fox and shares in its revenue. Or it could go the Pac-12 route, which owns all of its regional networks. Texas, on the other hand, sold its rights to ESPN for a fee and ESPN owns all of the Longhorn Network.

All of those models are believed to be in play for the SEC, but any channel couldn’t be launched until 2014 at the earliest, when ESPN gets back syndication rights it sublicensed to regional sports networks operated by Fox Sports and Comcast.

Of course, most of those rights likely have to do with football and men's basketball -- but it would be ridiculous to launch an SEC Network without either of those, so that's understandable. As are the reasons for CBS balking at paying too much more for SEC games.

CBS still will carry the same number of football games each season as part of its package, and network executives are arguing that schools such as Alabama, Florida and LSU -- not Missouri and Texas A&M -- drive the value of the conference. Without additional inventory, CBS’s stance has been that it shouldn’t pay more solely because the conference added two new schools.

I guess everyone who thought that the network favored "schools such as Alabama, Florida and LSU" now have more evidence for their case. If there's any favoritism there, it's all business -- and the arguments here are as much about CBS saving money as it actually is about the actual relative value of schools.

It looks like the conference is moving to quickly correct all of the mistakes the SEC made the last time it negotiated its contract, except for the 10- to 15-year window for a deal -- which has now become industry standard as networks like ESPN try to stabilize their prices and stop ticking off cable distributors. (Those distributors have sometimes threatened to move sports to a higher cable tier, which benefits no one.)

The time frame? SBJ says things are "weeks away," which could mean this could be over in June or August. Thanks for narrowing down the window there, guys.

Boise State is staying in the Big East. Once it gets there
In case you were really worried about that. Broncos AD Mark Coyle:

"Obviously they made a decision five months ago to join the Big East Conference and nothing has changed. We're here at the Big East meetings and it's great to learn a great deal about the conference and its direction."

Although Coyle both said that Boise has not talked with the Mountain West about staying in that league while adding that "we want to continue to evaluate the landscape and continue to make the best long-term decision for our program." Which probably means they talked with the Mountain West about staying in that league.

Music to Jim Delany's ears
You can say this for Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey: The man has absolutely no sentimentality about it.

"I'll say this: if it doesn't work out [in the Big East], everybody's got a spot for us [in another league]," Brey said. "I hope we keep our spot here and keep moving forward and massaging that. But whatever happens, we're going to land on our feet. I guarantee that."

It's nice to know that your friends will stick with you. As long as you don't really need them.

OTHER NEWS

Official SEC Baseball Tournament page
And, of course, we'll do our part to keep you up-to-date on the action throughout the week here and on Twitter.

Florida is good at everything
Except, for the time being, at football.

RIP, Bill Stewart
A part of me always liked Stewart and felt like he was really treated shabbily by West Virginia in the final part of his contract. You either fire a man or you stick with him; you don't let him twist in the wind as a lame-duck head coach while making it clear that his offensive coordinator will be the head coach the following season unless he agrees to it. At the same time, I thought Stewart was one of the most genuine coaches in the game. Thoughts and prayers to his family.

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