SEC, ESPN officially announce SEC Network

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN jointly announced on Thursday the creation of the multi-platform SEC Network, which is set to launch on Aug. 6, 2014 as part of a 20-year media rights extension between the conference and World Wide Leader in Sports that will take relationship through 2034.

Termed the “longest agreement in all of sports” by ESPN president John Skipper, the deal not only locks up the SEC with ESPN as its primary rights holder but also ensures that 1,000 league games will be aired each year including 450 live on television. The other 550 contests will be distributed digitally across a variety of platforms.

“The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league. The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC’s leadership for the foreseeable future.”

College football, the only sport with all 14 schools’ coaches in attendance on Thursday, will obviously be featured prominently on the new channel. The SEC Network will televise 45 league football games each year, including three every Saturday of the 13-week season. CBS will continue to have first pick of each week’s SEC football games but will no longer have exclusivity to air an SEC game in the middle of the afternoon.

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SEC Network set to be announced on Tuesday

It took less than a year for “Project X” to completely transform into the SEC Network with the newest joint venture between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN set to be announced at a special event on Tuesday in Atlanta, GA, according to a report released Friday by the SportsBusiness Journal.

Commissioner Mike Slive admitted to Yahoo! Sports in March that an announcement about the SEC Network would occur in the following month and that is exactly what will happen on April 16 at noon.

“The Southeastern Conference has completed the buy-back of its TV, digital and sponsorship rights from third parties, clearing the final hurdles to launch its TV channel with ESPN next year,” SBJ’s Michael Smith and John Ourand reported Friday. “[The SEC Network] will be a national channel, with broad distribution within the SEC’s territory and sports-tier carriage elsewhere.”

ESPN – through its network, ESPN2, ESPNU and the standalone SEC Network – will carry every conference football contest not chosen by CBS as its weekly game.

ESPN, which previously owned all of the SEC’s television rights, had sold third-tier access to CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, IMG College and Learfield Sports. Those rights included one football game, eight men’s basketball games and other non-revenue sports that ESPN did not choose to air. The network is currently in the process of buying back syndicated rights that it sold to Comcast SportsNet and FOX Sports Net.

In order to make the SEC Network a reality, ESPN needs to own all of the league’s games. It has also taken over the SEC’s corporate sponsorship program and will also acquire the league’s digital rights, which the SEC is buying back from XOS Digital.

The SEC Network will launch in August 2014 with each school likely receiving $8-10 million per year on a contract set to last 15-20 years.

Last season, two of the Florida Gators’ 12 football games and 12 of the school’s 30 basketball contests (regular season) were not carried on national networks.

UPDATE: ESPN and the SEC sent press releases announcing a joint press conference scheduled for noon on Tuesday. Florida president Bernie Machen, who is also the Chairman of the SEC’s Presidents & Chancellors, will be in attendance alongside Slive, ESPN president John Skipper, ESPN senior vice president of programming Justin Connolly and more than 30 head coaches from the SEC (football, basketball).

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1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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Florida Gators extend Muschamp through 2017

Head coach Will Muschamp has received a one-year extension from the Florida Gators and is now under contract with the school through 2017.

As first reported Tuesday morning by The Gainesville Sun and later confirmed by the school, Muschamp received the one-year extension in August, just six months after President Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley picked up the one-year option they had to extend his original five-year contract to a six-year deal.

Muschamp originally signed a five-year deal worth $13.75 million. Each of his add-on years are paid at the same rate ($2.75 million) through his first contract noted that he would receive a $500,000 bonus for being extended through 2016 and a $250,000 bonus if he was extended again through 2017.

In his first year at the helm of the Gators’ program, Muschamp led Florida to a 7-6 record, capping off a .500 regular season with a bowl victory. He has taken a huge step with the team, improving it to 11-1 through the regular season in 2012, and is being strongly considered for both conference and national awards for the job he’s done. Muschamp also corralled the No. 3 recruiting class in the country for the Gators in 2012 and is on his way to another top-five class for 2013.

Details of Muschamp’s contract as released on May 5, 2011.

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FOUR BITS: Machen, Taylor, Tebow, Beal

1 » University of Florida President Bernie Machen announced Friday that he will conclude his tenure sometime in 2013 after nearly a decade at the helm of the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the state. Machen, 68, made his announcement at the UF Board of Trustees meeting, and the school sent an e-mail to students, alumni and faculty almost simultaneously. “This decision reflects our joint feeling that there’s a time for everything in life and it’s now our time to pursue the next chapter,” said Machen while also referring to his wife Chris, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Of course, it will be pursued here in Gainesville and it will be pursued at the University of Florida.” The Sun notes that his most recent contract extension, signed last year, “establishes a post-presidency role for Machen at the university.” The school expects that it will have a decision on Machen’s replacement in the next six months; a smooth transition will take place with Machen handing over the reins and responsibilities at a time both parties deem to be the most convenient and effective. Read the school’s official announcement on Machen’s decision.

2 » The Jacksonville Jaguars announced Thursday that recently retired running back Fred Taylor would be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars this season. Taylor, who will join offensive tackle Tony Boselli as the second member of the Pride, is arguably the most talented and popular player in team history. He finished his career in Jacksonville (spanning 11 years) with 11,271 yards (4.6 yards per carry average) and 62 rushing touchdowns along with 2,361 receiving yards and eight reception scores. Taylor is not a member of the Florida GatorsRing of Honor as he is not yet eligible but could become eligible should he be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is, however, a member of the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame and UF Athletic Hall of Fame.

3 » It has been obvious from day one of the trade that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan believes in quarterback Tim Tebow. Though he may have his reservations about him as a signal caller, Ryan continues to be impressed with Tebow’s character and football-playing abilities. He also seems to be infatuated with his strength. “Let me give you a little story about Tim,” Ryan said on Thursday, according to Pro Football Talk. “I saw this in the weight room. A player had challenged him, holding these big huge sledgehammers. They held them doing this big iron cross kind of deal. The big lineman went first. [Tebow] said you want to go first or second. The big lineman said he’d go first. He went for about a 1:04, shaking. Tim went for 1:18. This guy is crazy with how strong he is and the kind of focus [he has]. I see that from him. He’s super competitive.” Ryan also said that he understands Tebow likes to use his athleticism in the pocket and is perfectly with that in the correct situations. “He’s done some things in some previous practices, where it’s like, wow, that’s a football player,” he said. “The defense will start chirping about him, ‘Come on. Throw the ball, stand back and throw the ball.’ Why? If he sees two-man [deep defense], he’s running with it. Someone better go out there and make a tackle. I think everyone sees Tim for what he is. He’s a super competitive guy and a good teammate. I’ve noticed he’s always building guys up. By the way, he’s a talented kid, or young man.”

4 » At the 2012 NBA Combine as a partial participant, Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal has been getting plenty of work done off the court. According to the Chicago Tribune (the combine is taking place in Chicago, IL), Beal “had interviews with Detroit, Denver and Sacramento on Wednesday,” several more planned for Thursday and individual workouts scheduled with Charlotte (No. 2 overall pick) and Washington (No. 3 overall pick) in the near future.

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The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Urban Meyer is off to Ohio State to coach the Buckeyes, fulfilling a lifelong dream and continuing his storied career just 10 months after choosing to leave Florida because it was “time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

Gator Nation was rocked when the more-solid-than-ever rumors began a week ago and continued its uproar Monday when it was confirmed and later officially announced that Meyer would indeed be heading to Ohio State.

Plenty is being said in regards to whether or not Gators fans have a right to be upset at Meyer for taking a job just months after declaring that he needed to reevaluate his health and relationship with his family but there is not one correct answer as to how Florida fans should feel about Meyer’s decision and the way in which this situation unfolded.

Whether the perception is that Meyer was dishonest when communicating his intentions for leaving Florida, a culprit of circumstance with his dream job suddenly becoming available years sooner than expected, or a college football addict unable to satisfy his fix while sitting behind a desk working for a major network, each observation has its own legitimate merits to be considered for evaluation.

Let’s take a more complete look at the situation by examining each angle of the story.
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

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Urban Meyer announced as Ohio State coach

The Ohio State Buckeyes held a press conference Monday evening to announce that Urban Meyer would take over as head coach following the team’s bowl game this year.

Meyer, who signed a six-year, $24 million contract on Monday, will also receive “supplemental compensation bonuses based on achieving certain milestones including academic accomplishments for the football program, and retention payments of $450,000, $750,000 and $1.2 million if [he] is still employed as head coach on January 31, 2014, January 31, 2016 and January 31 2018, respectively.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the Ohio State University football program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to come back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to school and met my wife.”

While answering questions during the announcement, Meyer explained that he did not plan on returning to coaching so soon and made an exception for Ohio State that he likely would not have made if any other program came calling for his services.

“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” he said. “A year ago, in my mind, I was convinced I was done coaching.”

He also spoke about his health, one of the main reasons he cited for stepping away from the Florida Gators following the 2010 season.

“Health-wise I feel great,” Meyer said. “I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect. I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”

Meyer did not mention Florida by name until he was more than nine minutes into the press conference. When he did, he lauded his former school, calling coaching at the University of Florida an unparalleled experience.

“My six years at Florida, Florida was my dream job,” he said. “Everybody says: ‘Is Ohio State your dream job?’ That’s a term that’s thrown around really loosely. To say I as this big and wanted to coach at Florida. No, I’m not from Florida. The way Coach [Steve] Spurrier and the way I really became a huge fan, I wanted to coach there.

“I will always be a Gator, will always be a part of that situation. Jeremy Foley, had a great conversation with him today and yesterday. Bernie Machen, the president down there, is one of my great friends. However, this is my home state, and it’s great to be back home.”

Meyer also called his initial staff at Florida in 2005 “the best coaching staff, group of assistant coaches maybe in college football history” and blamed his “pursuit of perfection” with the Gators as the reason he fell victim to increased stress in his final two years at the helm. “I’ve been to a place I’m not going to go back [to],” he said.

He also maintained that the “state of college football” was another reason he chose to step down following the 2010 season but that he has learned to stop trying to fix major NCAA, agent or drug issues and instead “keep it in center field.”

Addressing Florida’s well-publicized arrest record under his watch, Meyer explained that the majority of players who were in trouble at UF was exaggerated.

“Sometimes you’re in a college town where things get – anything – all of a sudden it’s on the front page of the paper. So the issues we had – I see numbers of arrests and the numbers I see are exaggerated. I know what we’ve had to deal with. If we had one, that’s too many,” he said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we’ve had a pretty good track record.

“We ran some bumps in the road at the University of Florida. Does that mean we had bad kids? I’ll fight that forever. No, absolutely not, we did not have bad guys. Did they make stupid mistakes? Yeah, I’ve made a few stupid mistakes [too].”

Meyer said that the Buckeyes did not make initial contact with him until Nov. 20, and the two sides did not meet in person until Nov. 23. He received a formal offer from Ohio State on Sunday and signed the contract Monday morning.

As part of his annual salary, Meyer will receive $700,000 in base compensation, $1.85 million in media, promotions and public relations monies, $1.4 million from apparel/shoe/equipment monies, $40,000 contributed to his retirement and $10,000 for a paid Coca-Cola appearance. Other off-field bonuses can be earned for the team’s yearly academic progress rate and graduation success rate.

He can earn $50,000 for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division, $100,000 plus an additional contract year for each Big Ten Championship Game victory, $150,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance, and $250,000 for a BCS National Championship Game appearance.

Meyer will also receive a $1,200/month stipend for automobile costs, a full golf membership, use of the school private jet (including 35 hours of personal use per year) and 12 tickets to each game among other benefits.

He will not coach Ohio State during their bowl game in January but will begin recruiting for the Buckeyes and assembling a coaching staff immediately.

Reports are that he has already hired Florida director of football administration Mark Pantoni away from the Gators and may make overtures to linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti as well.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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Missouri Tigers become 14th SEC member

It’s official. After months of speculation, the Missouri Tigers announced Sunday that they will be leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012 for the 2012-13 athletic season.

The addition of Missouri (and Texas A&M in September) marks the first expansion for the SEC since it added Arkansas and South Carolina and split into divisions in 1991. Though it has yet to be officially announced, the expectation is that Mizzou joins the East division.

“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC,” said Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida. “The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”

“The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri,” Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton said. “In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league.”

“I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012.”

GETTING TO KNOW MISSOURI

UNIVERSITY
Established: 1839
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Enrollment: 33,805 (fall 2011)
Campus: 1,372 acres
Colors: Black and “MU gold”
Motto: Let the Welfare of the People be the Supreme Law
President: Dr. Brady J. Deaton
Notes: First public insitutation of higher education west of the Mississippi, member of the Association of American Universities, world’s most powerful university research reactor, one of six public universities in the United States with schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture and law all on one campus

ATHLETICS
Nickname: Tigers
Mascot: Truman the Tiger (named after President Harry S. Truman)
Facilities: Faurot Field (football), Mizzou Arena (basketball), Taylor Stadium (baseball)
Men’s sports: Football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, wrestling
Women’s sports: Basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball
National titles: 3
Conference titles: 71 (6 in the Big 12)
Band: Marching Mizzou
Previous affiliations: WIUFA, Independent (1890-1892, 1898-1906), Missouri Valley/Big Six/Big Seven/Big Eight, Big 12
Athletic director: Michael Alden

FOOTBALL
First season: 1890
Stadium capacity: 71,004
All-time record: 622–515–52 (.545)
Traditions: Invented homecoming, Harpo’s goal posts
National titles: 1 “claimed”
Conference titles: 15 – 1893-95, 1909, 1913, 1919, 1924-25, 1927, 1939, 1941-42, 1945, 1960, 1969
Record vs. Florida: 1-0 (W 20-18 in 1966 Sugar Bowl)
Heisman Trophy winners: 0
College Football Hall of Fame: coaches – 5, players – 7
Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2 – Kellen Winslow, Roger Wehrli

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