The SEC Has Gone Disney

Michael OleszekAnalyst IAugust 27, 2008

Over the past two seasons, and some would say 75 seasons, the SEC has been the king of college football. All of the chirping about toughest conference, toughest teams, and best players drives most fans crazy and makes even casual observers of college football wonder aloud if college football is played anywhere other than the South.

The SEC has the best fans, the best tailgating, and the best stadiums, bar none. That sound you've heard all summer long isn't the choruses of Rocky Top, Rammer Jammer, and the Chinese Bandits music, but more of the chest beating coming from places like Baton Rouge, LA; Gainesville, FL; and Athens, GA.

LSU (Defending Champ), Florida (2006 Champ), and Georgia (Preseason #1), could all make serious runs at another SEC-National Championship this year, while teams like USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are flying under the radar. 

The college football season even kicks off on Thursday with NC State taking on South Carolina (an SEC team) in primetime. Alabama follows on Saturday night ABC primetime, and the Labor Day weekend is capped by a Tennessee game on Monday night ABC primetime.

Three SEC schools will be on primetime television against marquee out of conference opponents.   

But now, the college football nation has more reasons to hate the SEC love-fest that is taking place. 2.25 billion reasons to be exact. Yeah, that is billions. Earlier this month, CBS Sports threw $55 million a year for the next 15 years to broadcast SEC football, and the University of Florida signed a deal with regional Sun Sports at $100 million over the next 10 years, to broadcast Florida sports.

Both of those deals are peanuts to the $2.25 Billion dollars that ESPN/ABC/Walt Disney Corp. gave the SEC to broadcast SEC football, baseball, both men's and women's basketball, softball, and even gymnastics over the next 15 years.

That means that fans around the SEC will love this deal, but where is the love for the rest of the nation?? Unless schools start scheduling SEC teams, viewing options for fans of other schools will become very limited, if you're not going to the game itself.

The Big Ten has its own network, but that's only one conference.

Fox Sports Net isn't carried on every cable provider.

NBC just re-upped with Notre Dame for a while so that's out.

MTN and CSTV are just too small.

The ESPN Gameplan just got a little bit more attractive, but the price increase is on the way, because ESPN has to make its money back somehow.

The SEC wanted its own network, but not at a 20-25 year contractual commitment. The 15 year commitment it got from ESPN was good enough to essentially give the SEC its own network.

Every SEC school not televised by CBS will be carried on one of the ESPN platforms.

The fallout from this will benefit the conference and hinder the rest of the nation. The first thing will be recruiting.

In this day and age of self-promotion and the 'me first' attitude that is prevailing with athletes, kids will want to play on TV every week. Not at Vanderbilt or Ole Miss on Lincoln Financial Sports; but at Florida or Georgia where they will be the "Game of the Week", every Saturday.

College kids want to see and be seen. The SEC deal is going to make ESPN the Myspace of college football. 

Mark May will be forced to talk about another school besides USC.

Lou Holtz will need a spit screen the size of Tim Tebow whenever he talks about the Gators.

Finally, Lee Corso will need a decent costume shop in Tuscaloosa. 

Get ready for Saturday night promos featuring the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana hyping the Iron Bowl, because after all, ESPN is owned by Disney. The only good thing to come of this will be that Ron Franklin is calling SEC games.

The SEC is already the marquee conference in college football, but now add the promotional weight of the multimedia giant ABC/ESPN/Disney behind it, and you have a monster conference.

That is going to put the Gator Chomp and The Vol Navy in ads during Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives.

This will give the conference a ton of exposure, and then add to it the weight of non-conference games like Florida-Florida State every year, Tennessee-UCLA this season and next, Tennessee-Ohio State in 2018 and 2019, and you will have a storm of schools trying to schedule SEC opponents just to try and keep up.