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SEC Odds And Television Listings – 11/11/13

television-wallThe has released the schedule for the weekend of November 23rd today.  Below, you’ll find that schedule along with this week’s lineup of games.  We’ve including the early betting lines for this week’s action as well.


November 16th

Troy at Ole Miss — 12:00pm ET on ESPNU — Line: Ole Miss -28 (now -29)

Kentucky at Vanderbilt — 12:21pm ET on SEC TV — Line: Vanderbilt -13.5 (now -13)

Georgia at Auburn — 3:30pm ET on CBS — Line: Auburn -3 (now -3.5)

Florida at South Carolina — 7:00pm ET on ESPN2 – Line: South Carolina -11 (now -13.5)

Alabama at Mississippi State — 7:45pm ET on ESPN — Line: Alabama -24.5 (now -25.5)


November 23rd

Mississippi State at Arkansas at Little Rock — 12:21pm ET on SEC TV

Coastal Carolina at South Carolina — 1:00pm ET on Pay-per-view

Chattanooga at Alabama — 2:00pm ET on Pay-per-view

Georgia Southern at Florida — 2:00pm ET on Pay-per-view

Texas A&M at LSU — 3:30pm ET on CBS

Kentucky at Georgia — 7:00pm ET on ESPN2 or ESPNU

Vanderbilt at Tennessee — 7:00pm ET on ESPN2 or ESPNU

Missouri at Ole Miss — 7:45pm ET on ESPN


Yikes.  What a rotten line-up of early games.  Want to know why we believe the SEC will finally go to a nine-game conference slate as it should have last year?  No one’s gonna be dialing their capable operators to demand the SEC Network for those dud games.  And neither ESPN or CBS would want those laughers on their air either.  Time to toughen up those schedules, folks.

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SEC Releases 2013-14 Hoops Schedule

basketballsThe SEC has released the basketball schedule for the 2013-14 season today and each of the 126 league games “will be available to be seen from anywhere in the nation.”  According to the conference’s release, states that eight games will be offered on ESPN3 — which is that network’s online platform.  All other games will be available via television on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, CBS, the SEC Network (syndicated package), Fox Sports Net or CSS.

The SEC Tournament semifinals and finals will air nationally on ABC.  The early rounds of the tourney will once again be distributed by the SEC Network syndicated package.  (The actual SEC Network channel will not launch until August of 2014.)

Click here to see the schedule in its entirety.


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Times And Dates Are Set For Inaugural Big 12/SEC Hoops Challenge

basketballsWith the death of the old Big East, the SEC/Big East basketball challenge was quietly laid to rest as well.  This season, ESPN has helped doctor up a new Big 12/SEC Challenge.  Today, the network released the broadcast schedule for the 10-game event:


Texas Tech at Alabama — Thursday, November 14th, ESPN2, 9:00pm ET

Auburn at Iowa State — Monday, December 2nd, ESPNU, 7:00pm ET

Vanderbilt at Texas — Monday, December 2nd, ESPN2, 9:00pm ET

West Virginia at Missouri — Thursday, December 5th, ESPN2, 7:00pm ET

TCU at Mississippi State — Thursday, December 5th, ESPNU, 7:00pm ET

Ole Miss at Kansas State — Thursday, December 5th, ESPN2, 9:00pm ET

South Carolina at Oklahoma State — Friday, December 6th, ESPNU, 9:30pm ET

Kentucky vs Baylor at Arlington, TX — Friday, December 6th, ESPN, 10:00pm ET

Kansas at Florida — Tuesday, December 10th, ESPN, 7:00pm ET

Oklahoma vs Texas A&M at Houston — Saturday, December 21st, ESPNU, 7:00pm ET


Four SEC schools — Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee — will not take part in this year’s event.

The SEC and Big 12 are playing nice these days.  There’s now a mechanism in place to match Texas A&M with Texas and Missouri with Kansas.  It’s highly disappointing then that those two longtime rivals have not been paired up in Year One of this challenge.  You can be sure that decision had more to do with Texas and Kansas than A&M and Mizzou, two schools who’ve expressed a desire to play their old foes.  Hopefully the folks in Austin and Lawrence will grow up at some point.


SIDENOTE – For years we’ve had a little fun with the Big 12 here at  We’ve referred to the league as the Big XII because that’s what the league’s logo says.  As we’ve noted before, ESPN’s logo doesn’t read “WKRP.”  Judging by the emails from Texas fans and other Big 12′ers, the decision to use their Roman numeral designation hasn’t sat too well with the folks West of the Mississippi.

Well, since the SEC is now partnering with the Big 12 on so many fronts — the Sugar Bowl, this hoops challenge, numerous other bowls — we’re going to be writing about the Big 12 much more often.  And the Big XII joke will cease being a friendly jab.  More Big 12 fans will come here, not get the barb, and write to correct us.

So from this point on, we’ll refer to the Big 12 as the Big 12.

But they should still dump their Big XII logo.

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Finebaum On Manziel: “It’s A Train Wreck”

gfx - they said itNo one should ever expect new ESPN employee Paul Finebaum to bite his tongue.  The longtime talkshow host was asked about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his response was — as you would expect — not at all measured:


“I feel like it’s Thursday night again and I’m watching ‘Sharknado.’  You can’t take your eyes off the screen.  It’s a train wreck, but it is very compelling, and it’s also very disturbing for many reasons…

Whose fault is it?  Is it his fault?  Of course, you have to take some personal responsibility, even if you’re young.  But can you blame Kevin Sumlin or the administration at Texas A&M?  Johnny Manziel was a problem child before he started becoming the famous football player.”


This afternoon, Finebaum returned to ESPNU’s coverage of SEC Media Days and suggested that Manziel has “jumped the shark.”

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Finebaum The First “Voice” Of The SEC Network, But How Much Voice Will His Callers Have?

paul-Finebaum-in-studioThe return of Paul Finebaum is underway.  The former syndicated radio host will be introduced on various ESPN radio properties throughout the day. 

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Finebaum would be leaving Birmingham for Charlotte and a new job with the four-letter network.  That gig will include a new ESPN radio show, 100 TV appearances per year on ESPN’s television networks, and a television simulcast of his new radio show on the just-as-new SEC Network once it launches in August of 2014.

ESPN has put out a press release on the hiring today.

The move makes sense on a number of levels for ESPN and the SEC.  First and foremost, it’s cheap programming.

This week, ESPN reportedly whacked some 400 employees in a massive staff cut designed to enable the Haliburton of sports to meet its budget projections.  ESPN has paid billions of dollars to professional leagues and college conferences for the rights to air their games.  They’ve snatched up star on-air and online talent from their competitors time and time again.  At some point, selling enough advertising to cover all those costs was bound to become a concern (as those dismissed by ESPN this week have discovered).

Facing the need to lay people off and with a brand new all-SEC channel fueling on the launch pad, ESPN needed to find some cost-efficient programming.  Enter Finebaum.  His work will be seen and heard across multiple platforms.  A simple simulcast of his radio show — a la Howard Stern, Dan Patrick and others — costs basically nothing.  Stick a couple of cameras in a room and just air what radio listeners are already hearing.  Smart move.

Finebaum also provides the new SEC Network with an anchor personality that ESPN can build programming around.  Three or four hours or programming per day are now locked into place.  There’s now a face to put on billboards, a character to use in on-air promotions.  It’s not just the SEC Network for sale at this point, it’s the SEC Network with Paul Finebaum.

Over the years, Finebaum has gained a reputation for being able to stir just about any pot.  Consider him the Woody Woodpecker of radio sports coverage, an instigator of the highest class.  And nothing is better for ratings — TV or radio — than a controversial host.  If you track it backwards through Rush Limbaugh’s heyday to the 1980s rise of Morton Downey Jr. and beyond you’ll find that those radio hosts who’ve become the biggest stars have typically had two kinds of listeners — those who love them and those who hate them.  When folks choose to tune into someone they do not like just to hear what he’s going to say next, that’s money in the bank.  And that’s Finebaum.

ESPN officials are also surely counting on a number of Finebaum’s craziest callers to tag along as the host moves from one outlet to another.  Anytime this site has questioned Finebaum’s decision to give the nuttiest nuts on the fruitcake a voice on his radio show, we’ve always been met with cries of “You just don’t get it” from the Finebaum faithful.  (Which is pretty much exactly what I used to say to my father about Guns ‘N’ Roses and NWA.)  Many, many, many people tuned into Finebaum’s old show just to hear the lunatics.  Remember, it was on Finebaum’s Birmingham-based show that Harvey Updyke first admitted to poisoning the trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn.

Bizarro callers who’ll insult one another like pro wrestlers and conspiracy theorists who believe the world is out to get their favorite team are ratings gold.  It’s reality television for radio.  I can’t relate to it, but millions of Americans actually enjoy watching and listening to numbskulls as entertainment.  If some of the same screamers and hollerers who backed Finebaum before join him once again, that’ll be a good draw for the new SEC Network.

But while Finebaum’s callers could drive ratings, they could also hurt the league’s image.

Assuming some of the loons do follow Finebaum to ESPN and the SEC Network, the stereotype of dumb, redneck Southerners will be amplified outside the SEC footprint.  Both ESPN and the SEC have said that they want the SEC Network to get into as many homes nationally as ESPNU.  That’s a lot of homes.  In a lot of places.  All pointing and laughing at the insane followers of the SEC who will dial up Finebaum’s show.

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SEC Network Unveiled: Our Quick Takes, Our Rapid Responses

SEC_ESPN_logoToday in Atlanta, the Southeastern Conference and ESPN took the lid off of their new joint venture, the SEC Network.  Below are our quick takes and rapid responses to what was learned today:


The SEC brought in 32 head coaches for the event.  One by one the coaches (from various sports) were introduced.  Impressive, but slow.  The message: “Our coaches are a big part of why we’re great.”  Gotcha.  Next?

*  ESPN and the SEC announced that they have extended their overall media rights agreement through 2034.  No contract in sports television is longer.  The positive is that the SEC is now locked into a partnership with what’s currently the the biggest name in sports for two decades.  A positive negative?  Markets change.  Just as the SEC’s dual contracts with ESPN and CBS signed in 2008 were eventually passed, this pact will set a new bar for other conferences to take aim at as well.  You can bet the SEC worked automatic escalators — or “look-ins” — into this deal.  Just how strong those escalators are will determine how wise it was to sign such a long-term agreement.

*  Mike Slive: “For the first time a conference will launch a network with its primary media rights partner.”  As we wrote in mid-April, this deal is about much more than just a television channel.  ESPN and the SEC will now be able to bundle inventory for sales purposes which will drive league revenue through the roof.  Slive said the fact that the conference is creating a network with its main media rights partner allows the league to move its properties “across platforms seamlessly.”  As we told you two weeks ago, the network is big… but the overall partnership is even bigger.

*  Content will include 1,000 live events per year split between the channel and the digital network (online).  That includes three SEC football games per week (45 total) and more than 100 men’s basketball games per season.  The key?  Those three football games per week.  As we noted — again in mid-April — the fact that ESPN already own 95% of the SEC’s football content gives the league an opportunity to put more “good” games on its channel at start-up.  That should create greater demand from viewers and in turn put more pressure on cable and satellite providers to carry the channel.  Make no mistake, you will be used for leverage.

*  AT&T U-verse was announced as the SEC’s initial carriage partner.  Not to sneeze at AT&T U-verse, but the fact that a more well-known provider such as DirecTV, Comcast or Time-Warner isn’t onboard already might give you a pretty good idea of what ESPN and the SEC are charging for carriage.  Meaning: A lot.  Asked about other distributors, ESPN’s reps pointed out multiple times that AT&T U-verse is the fastest growing distributor in the country.  Fine.  But you the viewer need to prepare for the carriage battles we’ve warned you about.

*  Slive refused to detail any ownership details regarding the network.  “The actual details we’re just not going to discuss at this time.”  So we’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn if this is a 51/49-type split between the league and the network or if the SEC is simply being paid a healthy per-year sum by ESPN.  (We’ve come to believe that the latter is the model that’s been adopted, just as ESPN pays Texas an annual sum for their Longhorn Network partnership.)  Slive also said he would not reveal financial projections or distribution projections for the network.  ESPN’s reps said that they want complete coverage — like ESPN itself — in the 11-state SEC footprint.  They also pointed out that the SEC Network is a “national network.”  On a national scale, ESPNU’s distribution was mentioned as a goal for the SEC Network on a national scale.  ESPNU gets into about 75 million homes across the country.  Cha-ching.

*  Only two Thursday night football games will be played over the course of a season and there will be no new weeknight package of games.  (Good.)  Each Saturday in the fall, then, the SEC Network will carry three games per day — meaning one at noon, one in mid-afternoon, and one in the evening.  CBS has agreed to allow a game to go head-to-head with its SEC game of the week.  That’s very, very big.  That shows you the strength of the SEC, as you can be sure CBS does not want any competition in the 3:30pm ET time slot.  But the network agreed to it anyway.  CBS will continue to have the first pick on games each week.

*  Slive said he anticipates further discussion of a potential nine-game football schedule.

*  “The network will be priced efficiently and effectively,” according to ESPN’s reps.  Those reps also made sure to point out that they are not asking consumers to pay anything.  Of course, they are asking the carriers to pay for the channel and they know full well that those costs will be passed on to the consumers.  Semantics.

*  As expected, the network will be based in Charlotte at ESPN’s regional hub.  It’s launch date was announced as August of 2014.

*  UPDATE — Buried in the SEC’s Q&A sheet (linked to below) is this nugget: “The Network will televise the SEC Championships for all sports other than football.”  If that’s correct, you’ll need the SEC Network if you want to watch the SEC men’s basketball tournament championship game in March of 2015.  That’s a bit surprising.

*  UPDATE — Also tucked away in the Q&A sheet is the fact that the SEC game of the week that airs on CBS can be re-aired on the SEC Network.


Some additional info can be found below:

*  For information on SEC Network availability, click here.

*  For a full press release from ESPN and the SEC, click here.

*  For easy answers to questions about the network in a simple Q&A format, click here.


And if you’re wondering what 32 coaches, two players, a conference commissioner, an emcee, and two ESPN reps look like on one stage… here ya go:


ESPN - SEC Announcement Press Conference - May 2, 2013

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SEC Headlines 4/11/2013

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. The Egg Bowl, Thanksgiving night, and the difference between ESPNU and ESPN for Ole Miss and Mississippi State.  “The last three years the Egg Bowl has averaged 481,000 viewers on ESPNU, while ESPN’s Thanksgiving games averaged 3.6 million viewers during that same period.”

2. Ole Miss tight end Christian Morgan has a knee injury that will require surgery – expected back for start of practice in August.

3. The Rebels have depth in receiving corps – three of the top 12 returning receivers in the SEC  and the nation’s top wide receiver prospect is coming this fall.

4. Alabama linebacker Trey Depriest was in a cast at Wednesday’s practice – underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.

5. Auburn running back Tre Mason didn’t scrimmage Saturday and appeared to be favoring his left leg Wednesday.  Gus Malzahn: “Just want to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy before we put him back in there.”

6. Auburn wide receiver Melvin Ray left baseball for football.  L.A. Dodgers paying the tuition for the Auburn walk-on.

7. Soaring booster fees have some Florida season ticket holders upset.

8. New LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is focused on a quicker pace and quarterback Zach Mettenberger is adapting: “We’re setting the building blocks for what we’re going to go off of in August.”

9. Whoever ends up starting at quarterback for Kentucky will most likely be taking snaps from a redshirt freshman center.

10. Stamina an issue along the Georgia defensive line last year?  New line coach Chris Wilson wants to spread the snaps around.

11. Texas A&M sophomore Donnie Braggs is moving from weakside linebacker to the middle.

12. Arkansas wide receiver Mekale McKay on finding out Jim Chaney was hired as offensive coordinator: “It was a big relief off my shoulders.”

13. “Tennessee’s receivers have a LONG way to go.”

14. Profile of Alabama A.D. Bill Battle recalls his day at Tennessee, cutting edge computer analysis, and coaching against Bear Bryant.

SEC Basketball

15. Louisville fell down early against Michigan and rallied to win a title.  Florida trailed early against Michigan and wilted.  Coach Billy Donovan:  ”I’m not so sure in the Michigan game if we even deserved to win that game.”

16. Kansas coming to Gainesville next season?

17. Missouri guard Phil Pressey declared for the NBA draft yesterday.  But what if he goes undrafted? “You have to be ready for that, but I just think I’m ready. I’ve been working my tail off.”

18. Johnny O’Bryant’s decision to return to LSU helps give the Tigers plenty of options next year.

19. Seth Davis has his early 2013-2014 projections - Kentucky is No. 1. “If John Calipari also adds Andrew Wiggins, it could be the greatest freshman class ever.”


20. Lindsay Vonn at Augusta to watch boyfriend Tiger Woods.

21. Peyton Manning sends a bill to a teammate.

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A Video Tribute To UM’s Henderson… But What If He Were Black?

gfx - honest opinionYou either love Marshall Henderson or you hate him.  The junior guard for Mississippi’s basketball team taunts and trash talks.  He riles up fans and then flips them indecent hand gestures.  Then he reconciles it all by telling us, “Hey, it’s just a game.”

Hipster-targeting ESPNU proves that there’s an additional love/hate line for Henderson aside from the obvious “fan of Ole Miss” / “fan of some other team” line.  There’s also a generational component.  The more kids grow up seeing self-congratulating preeners like Terrell Owens become stars, the more likely a new generation of hot dogs — like Henderson — will be accepted.

Thus ESPNU’s video tribute to the guy who never met a shot he didn’t like:


Thank You Marshall Henderson


Henderson is not this particular writer’s cup of tea.  I look at his classless displays on the court and think “White Trash.”  Perhaps “White Brash” would be more fitting.

But what if Henderson weren’t white at all? dares to ask the question today: What if Henderson were black? 

Greg Howard points out in his article that the same semester Andy Kennedy welcomed Henderson into the Rebel fold, he dismissed Dundrecous Nelson and Jamal Jones from his team after they were busted smoking weed and in the possession of “drug paraphernalia.”  As you surely know by now, Henderson was once busted for trying to buy pot with counterfeit money.  Then he violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine and spent some time in the pokey.

Nelson and Jones are black.  Henderson is white.

Now, in fairness to Kennedy, one of college athletics’ oldest double-standards is the fact that Player X can be arrested somewhere else and turn to State U for a fresh start… while Player Y will be booted from State U for committing the exact same crime as Player X.

“Screw up on another team, we’ll say you learned your lesson.  Screw up on my team, you’re gone.”

Now, while this writer feels there’s probably something to Howard’s argument that Henderson would have been treated differently by coaches and the media had he been black, I believe there’s a bigger issue to discuss.  I wonder if Henderson would have been accepted just the same by Ole Miss fans and white fans everywhere had he been born black.

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Julius Randle Picks…

Julius RandleOne of high school basketball’s most celebrated recruits has made his college decision.  Just moments ago on ESPNU, Julius Randle, a Dallas, Texas area forward, picked up the hat of the University of Kentucky.

Randle’s four finalists were Kentucky, Kansas, Florida and Texas although many believed it was a two-horse race between UK and KU.

John Calipari already had six five-star commitments in his 2013 class. Jerry Meyer of said before the announcement “If Randle were to choose Kentucky, I think it makes this Kentucky class a no-brainer for best recruiting class in the history of college basketball.”

Randle did and history has apparently been made.

It’s always basketball season in Lexington, but a disappointing first-round NIT exit combined with the anticipation and excitement surrounding this recruiting class, next season can’t get here soon enough for UK fans. Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward and ranked the No. 3 overall prospect by ESPN, only adds to the buzz.


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2013 Signing Class: Mississippi State’s Target Zone

target-with-dartsMississippi State added 21 players from 9 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Bulldogs’ “target zone” is below:


Mississippi = 8 recruits

Alabama = 3

Louisiana = 2

Texas = 2

Virginia = 2

Florida = 1

Georgia = 1

Maryland = 1

Tennessee = 1


In-State Signees = 38.0%

Out-Of-State Signees = 61.9%



While Ole Miss was making national headlines with an eye-popping (and eyebrow-raising) signing class, Dan Mullen and crew were putting together what’s become a typical MSU type of class — plenty of in-state recruits with a solid overall ranking after the fact.  But there’s no question The School Up North stole the spotlight this year.  Mullen was even asked about Hugh Freeze’s class during his brief phoner with ESPNU.  Ouch.  But at least State held onto the state of Mississippi’s top-ranked player, Chris Jones.  If the big, five-star defensive end had flipped to the Rebels, a few Dog fans might have flipped their lids.

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