This is being posted later than normal, but I didn’t want to omit my duties of providing the Sunday thoughts. I’m trying to avoid doing so because I’m in denial over the following thoughts over two sites. I feel if I don’t write the following paragraphs, maybe they’ll still be around. Anyway, here’s what I have for you.
Free Darko & On The DL, RIP
This last week marked the end of two blogs and the sports blogosphere is poorer for their departures. I hate to see when well known blogs have to end, but sometimes life gets in the way.
First, Free Darko, the basketball blog that began back in 2005 ended this past week. So many people have contributed over the last six years and have come to prominence in mainstream media. The site also published two popular books. The fact that mainstream writers have given their thoughts from the New York Times to the New York Observer to ESPN.com shows you the impact the blog has had on hardcore basketball fans to even the casual fan. I can wax poetic about the people and the blog, but the aforementioned links have done it better than me. I get melancholy when I see blogs die. Free Darko was an inspiration for many bloggers. The blog was snarky, it was funny, it gave you facts, but most of all, it was good. And now it’s gone. The site will remain and so will the archives, but there won’t be new material. The writers will be around at other sites, but it won’t be the same.
Maybe they’ll do a reunion as the old Fire Joe Morgan crew does at Deadspin, and the sports blogosphere will go crazy on Twitter as we do when FJM returns for one day and let’s hope it happens sooner than later.
And I was saddened a couple of weeks ago when prolific podcaster Dan Levy of On The DL and Press Coverage announced that he was ending after 555 episodes. Dan wanted to record 600 and then call it quits, but life got in the way. He ended his podcast to deal with life. I understand and these things happen. I don’t have to like it, but I understand.
Dan’s podcast started in 2008 and was well established as I was getting my blog off the ground. And the guests he’s had range from the greatest names in sports blogging and media. He started when podcasts were their infancy and now everyone seems to do a podcast (including yours truly). Whenever there was a big issue in sports media and in the sports blogosphere, Dan and his partner, Nick would be there to talk about it. And they found guests to interview, they were never at a loss for words and through it all, their podcasts were entertaining and so enjoyable.
I met Dan at Blogs with Balls 1.0 and we’ve had causal conversations on Twitter and through e-mails. He brought me into his Press Coverage site as a contributor along with a lot of blogging heavy hitters. I’m certainly not a sports blogger heavy hitter, but to be part of it was an honor. I wish I could have contributed more often, but just to be associated with his site was a great feeling.
The final podcast had several bloggers and writers giving their predictions on what will happen in the next two years. I gave mine, but I wish I could have been funnier and snarkier as others were.
In his last post at Press Coverage, Dan portrays several bloggers and personalities to Muppets and it seems just fitting.
Two sites that left us in just one week. It’s sad, but hopefully, we’ll see them back in one form or another in the next few years.
College Football Machinations
In the last week, we learned that the Big 12 made official its deal with Fox for the cable rights to 40 football games to air either on Fox Sports Net or FX starting with the 2012 season. It solidifies Fox’s foothold in college football as it currently has the rights with the Big Ten for its TV network, the Pac 10 for both football and basketball as well as Conference USA.
According to industry sources, the Big 12 deal will run for 13 years and will be worth over a billion dollars.
With the pickings slim for other college football contracts, now all eyes are on the Pac 12 contract which would also begin in 2012. While Fox has this year’s Pac 12 Championship Game, it’s hoping to nab the big contract. However, with conference commissioner Larry Scott hoping to cash in, it appears according to reports that NBC/Comcast is the frontrunner to sign the Pac 12.
Consider the contenders for the Pac 12, college sports behemoth ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC/Comcast and Turner Sports. All are hoping to land the big contract and put the conference into its cap.
If I had to handicap the bidders, here’s how I see them.
I believe ESPN is in the bidding to drive the price up. With the Big East, Big 10, BYU, SEC, and WAC, I don’t see ESPN fitting in the Pac 12 other than the current slots it has on ABC and sporadic pickings on the Mothership. Odds: 10-1
Fox Sports would love to keep the Pac 12 not just for cable, but perhaps getting some games on the Fox network as well. While it can’t run games during September during baseball season, it could run some in October and November. It has the inaugural Pac 12 Championship Game this December and would love to parlay this into a new contract. There’s a good chance Fox could return and also provide its Fox Sports Net West Coast affiliates with some much needed programming. Odds: 8-1.
NBC/Comcast wants to make Versus a big player in cable sports and a way to get started would be to get the Pac 12 contract. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News has written that NBC/Comcast is a frontrunner. With NBC and Versus and local Comcast SportsNet affiliates in San Francisco and Portland, the NBC Sports Group would love to take a major BCS conference to add to Notre Dame football. Versus has some college football with the Mountain West and some Big 12 and Pac 10 games, but it would love have a full slate of games with the Pac 12. Odds: 3-1.
Turner is the wild card in the room. This is an interesting bidder as Turner Sports can use TBS, TNT or truTV for games. I would think if Turner Sports signs the Pac 12, it would put Saturday games on TNT for the college football season with some Thursday night games on truTV. We’ve seen that Turner can use a multitude of channels for sports events. It might be shocking to some if Turner gets the Pac 12 contract, but as I’ve been reading, this bid is quite serious. It appears that Turner wants to add to its current inventory and it just might with the Pac 12 and maybe even the NHL. Odds: 6-1.
The sports rights battleground is going to get more and more interesting as we have more sports coming up for bid in the next few years.
And I’ll end the Sunday thoughts there.