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Archive for May, 2011

Battle Mountain, NV: driving center of the Pac-12

Let’s say you just graduated from Cal and you got a job where you telecommute from your home, so you can live anywhere. And you want to live somewhere that you can drive to all the Cal road games in your old 35 mpg compact car. Where do you live?

Battle Mountain, Nevada, of course! This rustic unincorporated town with a population of 2,871 and an elevation of 4,511 is half way between Winnemucca and Elko on I-80 and at the NV-305 junction (key to heading south). It’s a copper and gold mining town in the heart of… um… a copper and gold mining community in the middle of the high desert. Temps in the summer routinely reach 100 and it gets light dustings of snow in the winter. It’s also home to the “World Human Powered Speed Challenge” where the current world record for pedaling a bike was set.

Back to football, here are the driving times:
Arizona: 14:15
Arizona State: 12:34
Cal: 7:02
Colorado: 12:43
Oregon: 9:08
Oregon State: 9:50
Stanford: 7:47
UCLA (Rose Bowl): 10:12
USC: 10:18
Utah: 4:49
Washington: 12:58
Washington State: 11:05

You could setup shop in Winnemucca, but the extra hour of driving to Battle Mountain will cost you on what is already the longest trip to Arizona and push the Colorado and ASU trips up to the clear #2 and #3. On the positive side, you’ll save that same hour on trips the Bay Area, Oregon and Washington (the LA schools are a wash). So maybe with Cal being in the North division, particularly since you’ll be going to more home games at Cal than anywhere else, Winnemucca is your wiser choice. Plus the population of 7,172 will mean a few more friends to hang out with and it’s summer temps are about 5 degrees cooler.

But if you really want to be in the center of the Pac-12, with the shortest driving length to each school, Battle Mountain, NV is the clear and logical choice.

(and no, I’m not moving.)

Comments re-enabled AGAIN!

My biggest complaint BY FAR with wordpress is how after various upgrades, it disables commenting for non-admins. It’s particularly troubling because I never realize it, as I can comment as an admin.

Nevertheless, it was brought to my attention again that commenting was disabled and I’ve re-enabled it. Comment away!

Maynard named the starter

In what to me was somewhat surprising news, Maynard has been named the starting QB.

What wasn’t surprising was that Maynard was named based on the media reports. Quotes from Tedford have repeatedly reflected that he saw Maynard as the one in the lead. Similarly the reports from the open practices indicated Maynard was getting more than his share of 1st team snaps.

But based on what I saw at the one open practice I was able to see, this was VERY surprising. In fairness, the practice I went to was an early one, so Maynard was still early in the process of getting comfortable. But he just looked horrible. Nevertheless, who am I to question? I didn’t see all that much.

The other surprising bit was naming it shortly after spring practice wrapped up. This is definitely a change in form for Tedford who hasn’t named a starting QB before fall practice when there wasn’t an incumbent since… um… never. OK, I don’t know that for sure, but someone else can do the research and report back. 🙂 Suffice it to say, I can’t think of a time he did it.

But the logic seems sound. Tedford wants Maynard, who is new to the program to be able to have a leadership role during the un-coached summer sessions and be in a good position for success when fall practice starts. If Maynard truly has shown that he’s picking up the playbook quickly, particularly when combined with his year of starting experience at Buffalo, there’s reason to be hopeful that with more time as the clear leader through summer and fall, he’ll be ready to excel come the first game.

Another unstated reason for the announcement may be for the coaching staff to start thinking about offensive strategy now that we’ve got a QB with some dual-threat capabilities. One doesn’t put in some QB running plays overnight. If the staff is going to do that, they need to be working on it right now.

While I don’t expect wholesale changes, it’ll be interesting to see what new wrinkles are in the offense next season. And here’s my prediction: If Tedford has a scheming trick up his sleeve, we won’t see it right away. He’s going to wait for the game when he most needs it. (UW? USC?)

More new contract numbers

New conference commissioner is obviously very good at his job. There’s 3 billion obvious reasons ($$$) why. But as I was dissecting the details we have about the contract, one major thing hit me:

Minus the dollar figure, the CONTRACT is not as big of a change as it was pitched.

And at first glance, that seems ridiculous, but if you think about it, it’s remarkably similar to what we have today (minus the dollars of course). The key thing to note is that the Pac-12 TV Network (I’ll call it the “P12N”) is for all intents and purposes not part of the contract. I mean, none of that $3 billion dollars is paid so that we can have the P12N. If anything the contract dollar figure is smaller because we’re keeping the rights to broadcast the games.

But we have that today. Any game that isn’t picked up by either ABC/ESPN or Fox, is free for the home team to schedule through independent contract. Of course the P12N will centralize that and make the distribution of those games go through the conference, but again, while there may be language in the contract regarding that, it’s not a fundamental change in what sorts of rights the TV network has.

Once one breaks through that barrier, the rest of the similarities become clear:

Item Old New
TV Networks involved ABC/ESPN and Fox ABC/ESPN and Fox
TV channels involved ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, FSN channels and Versus (through Fox contract) ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox, FX, FSN channels
Number of games in contract ~40 44
Both conference and non-conference games Yes Yes
Conference retains distribution rights for games outside contract Yes Yes
TV network get first picks Yes Most of the time
Selections made mid-season Yes Yes
Flexibility on Thursday/Friday Sometimes Yes
Flexibility on Saturday times Yes Yes

The number of games included was the part for me that really drove the point home in my mind. This contract was pitched as covering “all games”, but when you get right down to it, it’s just a few more games a year (including the conference championship game).

Now, to be fair, it appears that on the Basketball side, we’ll be getting a lot more games on ESPN than before, but since this blog is a football blog, I’ll overlook that in this post.

Also, the addition of games on Fox and FX for the Fox side of the contract is notable for giving us more exposure, particularly since the FSN networks are not in a lot of people’s cable/satellite package. In fact, games on Fox, might just be the one area we’ll really get better national visibility.

But in my mind the biggest change is that the conference now gets some higher priority picks for their own distribution, as opposed to just getting the table scraps of what the TV networks didn’t want.

To be clear, I think the P12N is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE deal. The fact that every game will be on TV is a big deal. But it’s not really part of that $3 billion dollar contract (in fact, it’ll take some of those dollars away from the schools for start-up dollars). What we really got is a contract that is remarkably similar to what we’ve had in the past, but we finally got ABC/ESPN and Fox to pony up for what it was worth and as a result, they’ll be showing a few more of those games on their best channels.

Just trying to put things into perspective…

Interesting detail in new contract

I was reading about the new media contract and came across the bit about all football games being televised. Did they mean all conference games, or did that mean ALL games? So what does a guy like me do when a question like that comes to mind? I try to figure it out:

We know that there will be a total of 80 football games televised: 44 on ESPN/Fox and 36 on the new Pac-10 network. We also know that there are 55 conference games (9 games x 12 teams / 2 + 1 conference championship game). So yes, the contract is for more than just all conference games.

But is 25 games all the rest? No, it’s not. 12 teams play 3 non conference games, so we’re 11 games short of the 36 that will be played. But of course, the contract won’t cover non-conference games played on the road. It can’t. The home team gets the TV rights for almost all non-conference games. So is 25 the rest of the home conference games?

Which brings me to the point of this post…

If every non-conference game was based on what is called a “home-and-away” agreement (where there will be two games, one at home and one at the home of one’s opponent), then 25 games would be too many. There would only be 18 home non-conference games each year.

So, here’s what’s worth blogging about: Built into the contract is an assumption that there will be some “pay-for-play” games, games where there is no reciprocal game at the opponents home field and the team is paid to come play a Pac-12 team. And a lot of them.

The way it works out is that 10 teams should have two home-and-away based games each year (for 10 home games (half the total number of games)) and one pay-for-play game (10 more home games). The remaining 2 teams would have one home-and-away based game (1 more game) and two pay-for-play games (4 more home games).

It’s just an interesting little note about what’s assumed for the non-conference arrangements moving forward. To be honest, it’s far more pay-for-play games than I thought. Looking back to the beginning of the Tedford era, there’s been no season where the Bears have had 2 pay-for-play games and 3 seasons where there weren’t any.

Expect to see the trend towards pay-for-play games to increase in the future across the conference.

Pac-12 media deal done

The internet is abuzz this morning with news that the Pac-12 media rights (TV, etc.) deal has been struck. It’s worth $3 billion over 12 years.

That’s $21 million per-school, per year, well more than double what we currently get. Hurray!

It’s also interesting that the deal is a joint FOX and ESPN deal. From Wilner:

* ESPN and Fox will be co-rightsholders.
* Games will be shown on Fox, ABC, FX, Fox Sports Net, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
* The contract includes the Pac-12 football championship game, which will be shown alternately on Fox and ABC.

A couple more links, one from Wilner, one from the NYT.

I think this is a great deal. No need to buy a game-package like “ESPN Gameday” that costs a couple hundred dollars for the season. Lot’s of channels to make sure the games are all on TV. Keeping ESPN involved ensures we get lots of airtime on sports center and all the other sports news shows that are so important for visibility.

Add in that it still leaves the Pac-12 it’s right to create a Pac-12 TV channel/network and it’s an absolute FORTUNE of money, the biggest deal ever for college sports, and one has to hand it to Larry Scott.

Congrats Larry! You’re doing great by the Pac-10/12.