ESPN, SEC Network reach agreement with Comcast Xfinity, closing in on DirecTV

Florida Gators fans across the state of Florida and country can rest easier as ESPN and the SEC Network announced Friday that they have reached a deal for the channel to be distributed by Comcast at launch on Aug. 14.

An agreement is also reportedly in the works with DirecTV.

Already set to be available on AT&T U-Verse, DISH Network, Google Fiber, Cox Communications and a variety of local cable carriers, SEC Network will now be in approximately 22 million more homes across the country by reaching a distribution agreement with Comcast.

“We are extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with ESPN to deliver the SEC Network to Xfinity TV customers on multiple platforms,” said Matt Strauss, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Video Services, Comcast Cable in a press release. “Whether in the home or on the go, Xfinity TV customers will be able to watch their favorite Southeastern Conference teams in more ways than ever before.”

According to Kristi Dosh, SEC Network will be carried on Comcast’s Digital Starter tier in the 11 states that are part of the Southeastern Conference footprint (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas) and on the Digital Preferred tier across the rest of the country.

Comcast tells me SEC Network will be carried on Digital Starter plan in SEC states and Digital Preferred in the other markets.
An flyer marked “For Internal Use Only, 7/14″ leaked on Thursday evening when “a source at Comcast” shared it with AwfulAnnouncing.com.

Continue Reading » ESPN, SEC Network reach agreement with Comcast Xfinity, closing in on DirecTV

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FOUR BITS: fun video, LSU, WNBA, McGee

1 » Florida Gators gymnastics won its second-straight National Championship this month, so it should come as no surprise that some teams on campus hope to emulate its success. Enter a couple Florida football players and swimmers who tried to complete as gymnasts in this video shot for the Florida Letterman Awards, which were actually held in early April before gymnastics went back-to-back at the NCAA Championships.

2 » LSU athletic director Joe Alleva may not have gotten its way when it came to the Southeastern Conference’s most recent scheduling announcement – specifically regarding the retention of permanent cross-divisional opponents – but he is pleased that SEC commissioner Mike Slive has decided to help his school lobby for more night games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “There has developed an understanding that CBS, ESPN and all its platforms will recognize the importance of LSU home night games in their scheduling process with assurances that every effort will be made to maximize the number of LSU home games at night,” he wrote in a letter fans of the team. UF has not only dealt with a significant absence of night games recently but also a groundswell of desire to see them increase as fans are tired – both figuratively and literally – of being forced to sit outside in the insane heat at noon in Gainesville, Florida. This type of preferential treatment for the Tigers may not sit well with Gators fans or perhaps even the administration, which could use as many night games as possible when convincing people to purchase season tickets.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: fun video, LSU, WNBA, McGee

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FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

1 » In a question-and-answer session with the school’s website, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley noted Thursday that his team and the Georgia Bulldogs will both wear colored jerseys during the Florida-Georgia game. “It’s just something a little different,” Foley explained. “To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach [Steve] Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on. It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.” No specifics were given as to whether this is a one-off decision or has been instituted for the duration of the current contract between the opponents to play in Jacksonville, FL.

Foley also notes that there is a “sense of urgency” in remodeling the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and that a decision on upcoming Southeastern Conference football scheduling (whether to go to nine league games) will come in June, which you can read along with some other less-interesting topics by clicking here.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

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SEC Network adds Florida QB Jesse Palmer

Former Florida Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer has been hired as the lead college football color analyst for the SEC Network, which is set to launch this fall.

The network announced Wednesday that Palmer and legendary play-by-play man Brent Musburger will serve as the lead announce team for the upstart channel, which will air its first game on Aug. 28 when Texas A&M visits South Carolina.

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Details emerge for Florida-Michigan in 2017

Last December, the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines jointly announced that the schools had agreed to open up 2017 season against each other at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX in what will be named the 2017 Cowboys Classic.

Additional details on the Sept. 2, 2017 game, Florida’s first non-conference regular season contest outside the state since 1991, were released Friday via a public records request made by the Palm Beach Post‘s Phillip Heilman, among others.

Previously known details:
- Each team receives $6 million for participating in the game.
- Each school is allotted 25,000 tickets to divvy up amongst its fans.
- Florida is the home team and will wear dark jerseys; Michigan is the away team and will wear light jerseys.
- Officials from the Big 12 have been hired to officiate the game.

New details:
- ESPN has signed on as a production partner for the game but a broadcast partner (ESPN or CBS) appears to not yet be designated. Whichever network is chosen will have the exclusive rights to sign a title sponsor for the game.
- ESPN can cancel the game if the Gators are slapped with serious NCAA violations but will be forced to find Florida an FBS opponent to play a game the same day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. (The same likely goes for the Wolverines.)
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SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

1 » ABC is making the most of its subsidiary’s employment of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, according to The Hollywood Reporter, by having the Heisman Trophy winner sit in Friday as a guest co-host on Good Morning America. Tebow, who signed with ESPN in December to cover college football and be the face of the SEC Network (set to launch as its own channel in August), will join the Time Square-based show to discuss the forthcoming Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and his former team, the Denver Broncos.

2 » The highest-profile former Florida player actually participating in Sunday’s big game is Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has a penchant for stepping up when championships are on the line. Harvin was cleared to return to practice last Wednesday and will be full-go for the Super Bowl with head coach Pete Carroll saying the playmaker has looked “great” in practice. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey called Harvin “a dangerous man” on Sunday, “one of the most explosive guys coming off the ball” and someone who can “change the game.” Harvin on Tuesday declared himself “ready to go.” “This is what I live for,” he said. “I’m used to playing in big games since I was younger, whether it was in Pop Warner or the two with the Gators.” As a freshman, Harvin picked up 82 total yards and a touchdown in Florida’s 41-14 2007 BCS National Championship win over Ohio State. Two years later in the 2009 BCS National Championship, Harvin exploded for 171 yards and a touchdown in UF’s 24-14 victory against Oklahoma.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Tebow, Harvin, Mincey, Moss, Roberson

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Tim Tebow kicks off relationship with ESPN

ESPN announced a new relationship with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow on Dec. 30, 2013, one which will feature the Heisman Trophy-winning signal caller as an analyst on the new SEC Network’s College GameDay spin-off show SEC Nation beginning on Aug. 28, 2014.

While the debut of that program is still nearly nine months away, the network’s latest association with Tebow actually kicked off this week with ESPN first airing a special feature on Tebow the football player before having him don a suit to serve as an analyst on the network’s all-day coverage of the 2014 BCS National Championship.

“A month ago I got a call from Tim Tebow, asking me to come down to USC where he’s been training and give him a brutally honest evaluation of where he’s at,” began former NFL quarterback and now Tebow’s fellow ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer in the intro to Tebow’s video feature. “And as we all know, this past week, ESPN and Tim agreed upon a deal for him to work with the SEC Network. However, he has not given up on his dream of playing quarterback in the National Football League. My job was to go down there and see if he can now pass well enough for that dream to become a reality.


“Well, I spend 365 days of the year looking at quarterbacks – high school, college, pros – and I don’t have all the answers. I do know this,” Dilfer began in his outro from the feature. “If you put Tim Tebow on a football field right now with four other NFL quarterbacks and you don’t know who they were and you just watched the ball – don’t watch the player, just watch the ball – you wouldn’t know which one was Tim Tebow and you wouldn’t know which one was another NFL quarterback.

“I want you to understand this in this context: This is one of the greatest players that ever played college football and he didn’t know how to pass. I believe now he knows how to pass. Every GM, every scout, every personnel person out there should go at least watch Tim Tebow now because it’s a different guy.”

The day after the video aired, on Jan. 6, 2014, Tebow sat behind ESPN’s desk for the first time as an analyst. He was first introduced as the newest member of the Worldwide Leader in Sports before being asked by the future host of SEC Nation, Joe Tessitore, about Texas hiring former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong as head coach.

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ESPN, SEC Network hire Tim Tebow as analyst

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been hired as a college football analyst for the SEC Network, which is set to launch in August 2014.

The three-year deal announced by ESPN on Monday will position Tebow as the lead analyst on the SEC Network’s College GameDay spin-off show SEC Nation. The pregame program will travel across the country and air from a different Southeastern Conference venue each week starting Aug. 28, 2014.

Tebow will essentially take Kirk Herbstreit’s chair on the program, which will be hosted by Joe Tessitore and have Paul Finebaum on board in the role Lee Corso made famous.

The Heisman Trophy winner will also be a contributor across other ESPN platforms. His first assignments with the World Wide Leader in Sports come on Jan. 6, 2014, when he serves as an analyst during pregame coverage throughout the day ahead of the 2014 BCS National Championship featuring Florida State and Auburn.

“I am so excited that ESPN has given me this incredible opportunity,” said Tebow in the press release. “When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”

According to the network, “Tebow’s role with ESPN will not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL.” Should Tebow be signed by an NFL team, he would be able to opt out of his contract with ESPN and return to the gridiron.

“Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal. He will be a significant contributor to the compelling content we will deliver with the SEC Network,” said Justin Connolly, ESPN‘s de facto SEC Network head honcho in the release. “Tim brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, the conference and the passion among SEC fans.”

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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