May 3, 2013

ESPN and the Southeastern Conference: A Match Made in Heaven

By - Keith Smith

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
Don't get me wrong, as a fan of college football, I'm not necessarily opposed to a network dedicated to 24/7 coverage of the best conference in America. But I can't help but wonder at what price?

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?


  1. As an SEC guy (Georgia) myself, even I think this is too much.

  2. If ESPN and the SEC were human life forms, someone would be yelling for them to get a room.....

  3. Who has said they want 6 games? Ole Miss, Miss. St, Auburn, Kentucky,Vandy? I like 8 but only use the two out of division games as tie breakers if needed.

    This network will be OUTSTANDING! Imagine, instead of ESPN's 1 minute highlight of an SEC game, the SEC Channel will have more indepth analysis of EACH game (not just the national head liner), after game press conferences, and another GAME DAY crew that will always be at an SEC venue.

    Just like when ESPN first started, there were some boring stuff sometimes (still sometimes)but overall I'm hoping for some really fun stuff.