After seven-consecutive NCAA football national championships, many people said the only thing that could stop the SEC is itself.
Well, it may have taken a small step in that direction with Thursday's announcement of a 20-year agreement with ESPN to form the SEC Network.
|Photo by: John Amis
Even though this hasn't been announced, it would seem almost a given that at some point in the next 20 years (and probably sooner rather than later, given ESPN's history), the SEC will be forced to move to a 9-game conference schedule. It's hard enough to navigate through the current 8-game gauntlet that coaches face. In fact, if they had their way, current coaches would cut the total to 6 (or less). Having to play 9 could mean career suicide for more than half of them.
The other major concern I might have if I were the conference administrators would be the potential of over-saturating an already drenched market. There are times during the college football season that you can see a game every night of the week, sometimes for a week or two at a time. You are hard-pressed not to already see half of the conference on Thursday or Saturday. Will SEC fans eventually burn out from watching not only so much football, but 24/7 of only their conference in every sport?
A conference developing its own network is nothing new. The Big Ten Network started way back in 2007, and the Pac-12 Network came online almost a year ago. Even the Western Athletic Conference has its own network, as does the University of Texas with its Longhorn Network. All have had their fair share of growing pains, so perhaps the SEC was wise not to jump in as an early adopter.
One thing is certain; the new network will not hurt for content, with the current plan calling for 1,000 live sporting events in the first year (450 on the network and another 550 distributed digitally). There will also be studio shows, replays, recruiting specials, and each school will have the opportunity to produce their own content to air.
Of course, with the SEC being the most penalized conference in the NCAA, and in all likelihood, the one with the longest arrest record for athletes, if they ever run short on content, they can always consider adding a daily crime show. Maybe there's still time to let Court TV in on this deal, too?