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Friday, April 15, 2011
Mailbag: TV tiers, DeRuyter, UT imbalance

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for all the questions. More good ones this week.

MU Fan in Dayton, Ohio, writes: Ubben, I've heard a lot of talk about the new TV deal and all the cash it's gonna bring in. Call me stupid, but what does this mean for the average Tiger fan stuck in Podunk, OH? I've been forced to go to a sports bar to watch nearly every MU game last couple of years. Does this new deal put more MU games on my TV and my butt on my own couch more Saturdays? My bar tabs are adding up....

David Ubben: In theory, yes. If you're in Ohio and you don't get Fox Sports Network, it won't put a ton more games on your TV, but FX is on most basic cable packages and is in 98 million households nationwide. That's only a million or so fewer than ESPN and ESPN2. If you get ESPN, which, I'd like to think almost everyone has if they have cable TV, you should already have FX. Fox Sports Net, which has local networks that broadcast specific, region-based programming, may require you to purchase an upgraded sports package on most cable networks. If you live in the Big 12 region, you likely get Fox Sports Southwest, where a good portion of Big 12 games are broadcast.


Greg Reid in Tallahassee, Fla., asks: Have I finally learned how to cover or tackle yet? Being able to do either one against the Sooners would be better than what I brought to the table last year.

DU: Ouch. I warned FSU fans last year, and they got mad when I called Reid the poor man's Ryan Broyles, but those complaints mysteriously disappeared following the game. Weird.

The bad news for Reid and the Seminoles next year is Oklahoma's found a handful of other receivers around Broyles, mainly Kenny Stills, so even if Reid plays well, Oklahoma could still have a big day through the air. Should be a great game. Definitely the best Big 12 nonconference game.


Dan Beebe at Big 12 Headquarters writes: Ubben,What did I tell you all along? I'm an F-18 bro! I always take care of business! WINNING!

DU: Obnoxious as this email is, I'd say the Fake Dan Beebes of the world have earned a bit of room to crow, no? Heck of a deal.


DJ in Lisbon, Portugal, writes: Concerning the new TV deal and how it pertains to the School Networks(Sooner and Longhorn). If I read correctly FSN has the rights to each schools home game unless picked up by ESPN. So that takes care of all conference games. OU and UT only have 1 OOC away game. OU has FSU and UT has UCLA. Both of those match-ups are intriguing and are most likely to be picked up by ESPN. That is all of this upcoming seasons games accounted for. So where does that leave the School Networks? It seems like they will have no live football games, the driving force for the networks creation, to show.

DU: Well, no. There's still three nonconference games, and right now, the point is that schools still hold those third-tier rights for games not picked up by FSN or ESPN and can monetize them any way they see fit, whether it be streaming it online, getting a local broadcast or setting up a pay-per-view broadcast. Texas, clearly, would broadcast theirs on the Longhorn Network. Oklahoma's network, if it becomes a reality, won't be up by this football season.

And I would disagree that live football games are the driving force for networks. When you only have one a year, you don't launch a 24-hour network on the basis of one lame nonconference game a year. The driving force is a fan hunger for more from each school, but they'll feed that with a combination of some basketball games, almost all the baseball games, and other Olympic sports, as well as coaches shows and game replays, whether they be recent or historic. You'd be surprised at how many Texas fans would sit down and watch the 2005 Rose Bowl on repeat.

Think of it like "A Clockwork Orange," except the opposite.


Boone Pickens in Stillwater, Okla., and Dallas, Texas, writes: Ubben, I put a lot of money into OK State, are they finally going to give me a return on my investment by winning the big 12 this year? or at least make a BCS bowl?

DU: This year seems like a good chance. Oklahoma is going to make it tough for anyone else to win the Big 12, but if the Cowboys can beat Texas A&M early in the year and make it through the regular season with just one loss or so, even a loss to Oklahoma at the end of the year should be good enough to keep them in the serious hunt for an at-large BCS bid, thanks to a likely preseason top 10 ranking. My guess right now is Oklahoma wins the league, and either A&M or OSU gets an at-large berth in the BCS. They'll be in position.

Also, if any of you have seen season five of "Friday Night Lights," the fake Boone Pickens character is hilarious. He's a big booster for "Oklahoma Tech" whose color is orange. His money is from oil, he has buildings on campus named after him and a special suite in the stadium. He's also unabashedly Texan.

Awesome.

Also, I'm pretty sure they shot that at Texas' stadium, ironically. I could be wrong, but it looked like Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to me.

The Big 12 has some interesting ties to that show, now one of my favorites on TV. Mack Brown plays a booster in the pilot and Mike Leach makes an appearance as (kind of) himself later on. Their acting jobs were all really good, I thought. Much, much better than the awful coach acting in "The Blind Side."


Alex in Lubbock, Texas, asked: What kind of impact do you see Delvin Simmons having this year for Texas Tech?

DU: It's way, way too early to start talking about that. Clearly, the potential is there with his size (6-foot-4, 295 pounds) and his athleticism, but you never know with players until they actual put pads on and get in practice. Maybe he's a bust. Maybe he's the next Ndamukong Suh. We won't have any idea until he actually starts practicing. It's way too tough to tell this early. It's a huge pickup for Texas Tech, the type of player it just didn't get in its program previously, but let's not shackle the kid with crazy expectations a day after he signs with a school.


Sam in Columbia, Mo., writes: Hey david, love the blog. I was reading Ivan Maisel's three point stance this evening and he's of the opinion that the new deal with Fox is make th Big 12 as imbalanced as ever. Any thoughts?

DU: He's definitely right, but my question is, what are people going to do about it, other than complain and keep hating Texas? The Longhorns made $35 million more than anyone else in the Big 12 in gross income last year, and once the money from the Longhorn Network kicks in, that gap will only grow.

Is that healthy for the league? Definitely not. But Texas is in the Big 12, and they're not going anywhere. It built this program and it's enjoying the fruits of that. The school is fortunate to be the flagship of a huge, productive state with a big recruiting base in every sport and has solid academics. Other than a healthy dose of "Deal With It," I don't see much anyone else in the league can do about it.


Vusani in Swaziland asks: David, could you give us a simplified explanation of 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier rights and how that translates into funding with the new FOX TV contract? I have no idea what that means except that A&M is cranky again.

DU: Tier I rights are basically the huge football games, ones with big national appeal. That's your Red River Rivalry, Bedlam last year, the Lone Star Showdown in other years, basically the elite football games that the casual college football fan would care about. This is, as I understand it, a selection of 18 games. ESPN and ABC have these and they can select them in the week or two leading up to the game, so they get the most attractive matchups.

Tier II is the next set of games. Good games, but games likely only relevant to Big 12 audiences, so mostly conference games like, say, Kansas-Baylor last year or Oklahoma State-Kansas State. Now, there are 40 of these games.

Tier III includes the games that are only relevant to a certain fan base. That's your Northern Iowa-Iowa State matchups, for instance. I'm oversimplifying this to just football, but Tier III also includes Olympic sports like baseball or softball or women's basketball that people might want to watch, but untelevised games previously went unused. The Big 12 is now trying to position itself as a league that allows schools to profit off these events by monetizing them in a Big 12 Network or a school broadcast somehow.

The Big Ten, meanwhile, doesn't allow schools to monetize their third-tier rights and the Pac-12 likely will not allow schools to do that, either. That's a big reason why Texas, which has a market for its own network and stands the most to gain off these third-tier rights, didn't want to go to the Pac-16.


Taylor B in College Station, Texas asked: Hey David, thanks for all the work covering the Big 12. Question about my Ags DC Tim DeRuyter. He supposedly told Sherman than he wouldn't leave for another DC position to another school, that it would have to be a head coaching position. In your mind, what might lure him away. Do you think he would leave for HC position at, say a CUSA school or something on that level, or would it take a school in a BCS conference to lure him away?

DU: It's all about finding the right opportunity. You have to find a school where you can win and not hit a dead-end in your coaching career. Conference isn't as important as the exact school. Mississippi State? Vanderbilt? Sure, you're in the SEC. But say, West Virginia or Tulsa? A much better job, because you can win big there, even if you're in a less prestigious league like the Big East or Conference USA.


Dave R in Houston asks: Do you like Freebirds, Qdoba or Chipotle most?

DU: I'm not a huge Mexican food guy, but give me Chipotle. Qdoba is just OK. Freebirds is vastly overrated.


Jeff in Omaha, Neb., asks: Tell me to stop being excited about the Clones. This happens every year during spring ball. Is 7 or 8 possible with our schedule? What are the chances Jantz pulls a Martinez when when he gets ESPN on an off night v UConn?

DU: It's not impossible. I talked to Paul Rhoads earlier this week (ISU fans, heads up for a few Cyclones stories next week) and it's clear that Jantz is by far the fastest quarterback on the roster. I'm excited to see him in action.