Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reporters' Notebooks

Bridget Wentwork, Newark Star-Ledger: Let the Heisman hype begin. Rutgers junior running back Ray Rice's site, See Ray Run, is up and running.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: The Big Ten has badly overreached in an attempt to get its network on cable outlets in Big Ten states. With little more than two months until the season starts, the conference better master the art of compromise. Story is in comments.

Neill Ostrout, Connecticut Post: Notre Dame quarterback Zach Frazer, who expressed a desire to transfer, reportedly has narrowed his choices to Cincinnati and Connecticut. Thanks to Ben Maller.

Brian Davis, Dallas Morning News: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops got a $150,000 boost in pay. His boss, athletic director Joe Castiglione, who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for outgoing Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, was given a $30,000 raise.

Ryan Suchomel, Iowa City Press-Citizen: An Iowa fan, who had a football signed by arguably the finest coaching staff in the history of college football, finally got the one signature he was misssing.

Carter Strickland, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia coach Mark Richt is gushing about his mission to Honduras and says he plans to return.

And here is today's mystery link. Thanks to Joe!

1 comment:

dawizofodds said...

6-27-07

Big Ten's grabby fingers getting slapped

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

The Big Ten is trying to fill the cable television void left by ‘‘The Sopranos.’’

Not in quality of programming, but in trying to put the squeeze on people.

The conference is trying to pluck $1.10 a month per cable TV subscriber in exchange for the privilege of getting the Big Ten Network in their homes.

Hoping cable TV companies will do the right thing may be a dreamer’s dream. But here’s to the Midwest’s top cable suppliers continuing to shun the conference until it checks in with reality.

That being, the Big Ten Network will have a smidgen of popular programming and far more that’s easily skipped while channel surfing.

Football and men’s basketball will be the network’s selling points, and not many of the football games will be enticing as long as the league puts its best matchups on ABC and the various ESPNs.

A few Iowa football games and probably several Hawkeye men’s basketball games will probably be offered on the BTN this year and in years to come. The Sept. 8 Syracuse-Iowa football game is one.

I’d never suggest anyone buy a satellite dish, since urging people to watch more television doesn’t seem all that socially responsible. But that may be the way you really avid Hawkeye fans will want to go, since the BTN is hooked up with DirecTV.

Or, you could just live without seeing a game here and there. I know, I know, that’s crazy talk.

Casual fans, however, will find the BTN fairly irrelevant. True, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State will have their season-opening football games on the BTN.

But the opponents are Appalachian State, Youngstown State and Florida International, respectively.

When good Big Ten teams play other good teams, you’ll find them on ABC or ESPN.

Last week, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany ripped a Comcast honcho for daring to use the term ‘‘second-tier’’ regarding much of what the BTN would be airing.

Delany was right. Lots of it will be third-tier and fourthtier. There’s a reason why nearly everything but football and basketball are called nonrevenue college sports. It’s because people don’t pay to attend them. Which means they also won’t watch them on TV. Last week, the Big Ten announced the BTN will become the first national network to commit to ‘‘event equality’’ for men’s and women’s sports on all network-controlled media within the first three years of launch.

In a fair world, that would be wonderful. In the real world, that makes it a tough sell.

Comcast put out a one-page memo to media entitled ‘‘Get The Real Facts About the Big Ten Network”.

‘‘Fans’ loyalties are to their schools, NOT to other teams in the Big Ten conference. . . . Indiana basketball fans don’t want to pay to watch Iowa volleyball, but the Big Ten wants everyone to pay for their new Network. . . . Outside the Big Ten markets, this niche channel will not have widespread interest — fans of teams in other cities don’t want to pay to watch the University of Iowa’s volleyball games.’’

Delany took great umbrage, saying ‘‘In the Midwest, when you’re talking about a women’s sports team, you talk about them with respect. They’re not second tier. . . . To the extent that those remarks were intended to denigrate institutions or teams or, in particular the women’s volleyball team at Iowa, I think they ought to be rethought. I think if clarifications are necessary, that’s fine. And really, if they were intended to denigrate, there ought to be an apology.

‘‘I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination it’s a niche network.’’

Think again, Commish.

Comcast serves 5.7 million homes in five Big Ten states. Its executive vice president, David Cohen, responded to Delany’s remarks with nothing resembling an apology.

Cohen repeated his claim that the Big Ten’s top games would go to ABC and ESPN, saying his company wouldn’t force ‘‘a burdensome Big Ten tax’’ on its customers. Good for him.

The Big Ten has badly overreached on this deal. With little more than two months until its football season starts, it better master the art compromise. Otherwise, it will have a no-tier network.

mike.hlas@gazettecommunications.com