The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE
After a Ted rant for the ages, the writers take to discussing the future of BTN and the national B1G brand.
With the regular season in the rearview mirror, we OTE writers were looking for something to keep us occupied until the potential B1Gbowl-pocalypse. Then there came a rant from Ted that got us thinking: It's a hundred and six miles to bowl season, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Let's talk some B1G on TV.
We all know that there seems to be bad blood between the B1G and ESPN, anyone with a brain can read between the lines--Delany's now famous 'consider them rolled' comment when ESPN told him to roll the dice on the Big Ten Network to begin with, their joint venture with Fox (who owns 51% of BTN), and Fox acquiring the YES Network...just as the B1G welcomed Rutgers and Maryland.
With the success of the BTN, it's not out of the realm of possibility to see the BTN try and split off from ESPN entirely the next time TV contract negotiations come up, and part of this drive for expansion has to be for the BTN to get big enough to put Tier-1 games (OSU-UM, conference BBall tourney, conference championship) on the BTN.
And after this Tennessee coaching hire, I hope more than anything this happens, and the power ESPN has gets undercut in a big way. Tennessee is a college football blue blood--9th winningest all time program, 2nd winningest SEC program of all time, and 6 national titles. They've been down for a few years, but they're on the level of OSU, Michigan, Nebraska, and Penn State...and they got turned down by a Big East coach that spent over 20 years coaching in the SEC as an assistant. Then they scramble to hire Butch Jones, who's been just okay as Brian Kelly's replacement at Cincinnati (23-14 in 3 years, 0-1 in bowl games).
I've thought for a decade that it made sense for the B1G to pair up with NBC. It does even more so now Give the peacock 2 B1G games a week (it becomes the network of the B1G and Notre Dame), give the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) 2 games a week. And keep 2-3 for BTN. You can dicker over selection order (so that BTN gets some good matchups), but the important thing is that you get every conference game on nationally. Only when we have MAC/FCS matchups in September do we have overlap and regional splits.
I'm all in favor of BTN going it alone. Let's give a game or two to FOX/FX every week, and then EVERYTHING else on BTN.
Imagine the possibilities.....no more forced 11 am CT kickoffs (which are only there to accomodate ESPN's desire to have games kickoff at noon ET). Games spread out throughout the day rather than having all but 2-3 games played in the early slot. Night games all season long (trust me, the teams and BTN/FOX will both want this). Gus Johnson on the call potentially. The vastly superior studio show that is BTN's Dave Revsine, Howard Griffiths, and Gerry Dinardo. Replacing Tom Rinaldi/Geno Wojikowski with Teddy Greenstein. The chance to have more non-con home games on BTN (rather than ESPN, where all you'd hear is the commentators talking about the other team and other team's conference, and slamming the Big Ten for being down). More money, which means more production value, which potentially means more The Journey.
I mean during conference season we'd have 6-7 games a week, right? Imagine the potential lineup:
- FOX early game at noon ET/11 am CT
- BTN at noon CENTRAL time/1 pm ET
- FOX at 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT (could be split with Pac12Net)
- FX at 3:30 pm ET/2:30 pm CT (could be split with Pac12Net)
- BTN at 4:30 pm ET/3:30 pm CT
- FOX/FX at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT
- BTN at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT
That's pretty phenomenal, if you ask me.....and it'd be good to break up the ESPN hegemony.
I think that the Pac-12 and Big 12 have beaten us to FOX. Especially our pacific friends. I believe that is the model that they are headed towards.
Can I at least point out that FOX/FX/BTN absolutely sucks at in-game presentation?
I thought the early kickoffs were more driven by the conference. That, and the long standing 'no night games in November' idiocy.
Really? Maybe I'm biased because I sat thru ESPN's Danny Kannell slobbering over Andrew Maxwell and MSU in the midst of a .500 campaign while Northwestern was beating them and having a better season, or by ESPN's Holly Rowe and Joey Galloway talking about a nice Syracuse Port-A-Potty during a game, but I'm a fan of the BTN in-game presentation.....you see all the plays, the announcers (generally) know the teams in the conference, and they talk about the B1G teams knowledgeably.
I'd be fine with us partnering with NBC rather than FOX......whoever. The point is, with the BTN as successful as it is, we don't need ESPN anymore.
As for early kickoffs, that may have been driven in part by the conference, but in earlier/pre-TV for every game days, I KNOW Northwestern didn't do 11 am kickoffs -- they'd be at noon CT or 1 pm CT (this was the case for much of the time I was in college). I think the 11 am CT thing was driven by the desire to fit things for ET television sets.....which is dumb in a conference where half or more of the teams are on CT.
Oh, believe me, I think ABC/ESPN's drivel is terrible, but the actual visual presentation -- camera angles, HD that isn't constantly fuzzy, camera guys who actually know where the ball is, graphics with some form of meaning, better stats depts, etc. -- is far better with the WWL. I cannot tell you how many times BTN comes back late to a play with no explanation or is trying to do a worthless sideline conversation with somebody.
FX/FoxSports and to a lesser extent the major FOX broadcasts are also mediocre. They seem cheaply done and amateurish.
And yes, while it's nice to have better announcers with BTN, they also are amateurs who have a hard time following the game, knowing about lots of players (in that they are doing research and not just random local celebs they talked into going down to the local game and do sideline reporting), and also not, you know, being terrible at doing play-by-play (basketball is admittedly worse on BTN).
NBC, otoh, wouldn't be a bad deal. They've gotten better as of late, so maybe that pans out.
Oh, and early morning kickoffs suck, but that's how CFB is played now. Gotta fit in as many games as possible in a short day. Add to that the amount of Eastern Timezone schools we now have and it's not going to get better. In fact, who all are central? Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Northwestern, right? Only six teams. So that's going to be 8/14 soon with more Eastern additions likely.
Isn't the BNT a joint venture w/ Fox? If so, I would think it would be easy to take that next step.
The biggest concern I have is that the Pac-12 sold their soul for their TV deal - Thursday night games, Cal/Stanford playing in mid-October, etc. Hopefully the Big Ten doesn't proceed down that route.
I have one problem with the Big Ten televising exclusively on the BTN - as much as Jim Delaney likes to say that the BTN is a national presence, there are still cable systems, etc. on which it's not offered - namely mine! Those SOBs have had how many years to figure it out? Maybe Delaney and company should worry less about silly division names and sillier trophy names and focus on making sure the network is available to the entire country. Not that I'm taking this personally, mind you.
I'm with Tom for two reasons.
(1) Would NBC take a B1G package in addition to having the team of the Church on every Saturday? I don't imagine a scenario in which they wouldn't.
(2) Think about what this could do in terms of national perception for the Notre Dame to B1G scenario. If the Big Ten is suddenly paired with Notre Dame in the minds of the average football fan because "I just finished watching ND beat Duke 55-10, now time for Michigan-Wisconsin!" could really help pair the two, if we want haven't given up on the ND dream.
I wouldn't mind leaving ESPN in the dust, but I do agree that the production values on football broadcasts on our network need to go up. Our commentators are usually fine, but the camera angles, quality of video feed, and other such things are quite noticeable when you look at our network as compared to ESPN. We have a lot of money though -- surely we could steal a producer or two from ESPN and bring them over to run our college broadcasts?
Team that up with NBC/FOX and you'd have a pretty powerful counterpoint to ESPN. Of course, that might just make them all the more down on the B1G and up on the SEC, so we'd have to be prepared to deal with that.
Got an opinion? Tell us what you think!