Sick of late night Mountain West kickoffs? lol too bad
Thanks for making Monday’s Extra Points my most read newsletter ever. I try to write about all kinds of content, but I think the people have spoken. They want me to write about Rutgers and UConn all the time. Fine.
By the way, if you think reading is for suckers and would rather hear my voice, I was on ESPN700 in Salt Lake City, and on the podcast for my Tulane pals at Fear the Wave, discussing California’s Fair Pay for Play act. If you ever have any questions about Extra Points stories, you can always hit me up at [email protected], or @MattSBN on Twitter. My DMs are open (please don’t make me regret that).
I feel like a lot of stuff has happened lately that I want to talk about, and most of it isn’t related to SB 206. Let’s get into it.
But first, let’s update everybody on SB 206
In case you somehow missed it, California Gov.Gavin Newsom signed SB 206, the Fair Play for Pay Act, into law on Monday. I feel like I’ve written a few explainers for this bill already here, but if you’d like another one, I wrote one for SBNation.com on Monday. The important TL:DR, as far as I’m concerned, is that now we wait to see what the NCAA working group on likeness rights says this month, and what other states follow California’s suit, to see what sort of compromises come forth before 2023.
You probably already know about New York and South Carolina proposing similar bills. Now my adopted home state, Illinois, has proposed a bill that seems very similar to California. Florida will also have at least one proposal. Colorado also joined the fray. I’ve been told that even more states are likely to have similar bills proposed in the near future. Keep an eye on Michigan, North Carolina, Connecticut and more in the coming weeks.
I’ll have more on this story over the coming weeks.
Tarleton State to join D1, compete in the WAC
Despite all the headwinds to D1 membership, from rising costs to attendance concerns, plenty of schools are interested in making the jump. The latest, apparently, will be a D2 heavyweight.
Tarleton State, located in Stephenville, Texas (not far from Ft.Worth) will make jump next season, competing as an FCS independent, and in the WAC for other sports.
The Texans are currently ranked 5th in the D2 Top 25. They also finished in the top 30 in D2 attendance, averaging over 4,700 fans a game last season.
Generally, I’m against more teams joining D1. I think it’s too expensive, and since most “expansion teams” have no shot at competition for anything meaningful, I think it is rare that the jump would be worth the investment.
But if the school already has a fanbase and a successful football program, then further investment and a shot at the FCS playoffs doesn’t seem impossible. It probably makes more sense than the improbably named Dixie State (they’re in…Utah?), who will also jump to the WAC and independence.
The WAC, easily the biggest “conference of misfit toys” in D1, has completely remade itself. Cal State Bakersfield and UMKC are on their way out of the league, and Chicago State and New Mexico State could bounce at any time. But Tarleton State would give the WAC nine members by 2021, and with the exception of Chicago State, at least a slightly more compact geographic footprint (although stretching from the Metroplex to Seattle is quite a footprint).
With two football playing members now, and with FCS probably needing a second western-based conference beyond the Big Sky, I wonder if the WAC may explore being a football sponsoring conference again? Perhaps if another D2 team decides to jump to D1, they could look to bring in a few affiliate members? Something to perhaps monitor.
Were you hoping for big changes to the MWC TV deal? Well,,,,
It wasn’t that long ago that the Mountain West made waves by publicly musing over ditching cable TV entirely for their next television deal. Sure, the money was nice and the exposure was useful, but perpetual late kickoffs were killing school’s ability to sell tickets and sustain a fanbase.
The league is still working on their next TV deal, and if this interview is any indication, big changes just aren’t happening.
So there you have it. Sure, going digital would have given MWC schools much more flexibility in when they kickoff, but it wouldn’t have been as lucrative…and these are not rich schools. They need that extra million bucks.
The next MWC deal will pay more than the $1.1 million each school gets now, perhaps in the $2-3 million range, and the deal won’t be as long as the current AAC contract, so there will be some flexibility for the future. But I think this is further proof that the potential digital players in this space, your Amazons, Facebooks, even FloSports…aren’t interested enough, or able to pay out enough of a fee, to really change the college sports rights marketplace that much, at least right now.
This is a great season for MWC football, and there are some solid brands that would be locked down by buying the league’s rights. But they’re most valuable to an ESPN or CBS because of their ability to provide late night inventory. That’s great for casual night owl fans across the country. It sucks for fans who have to drive four hours to watch a Wyoming football game in person. And right now, it looks like the MWC can’t afford to ignore the casuals to serve the die hards.
Pac-12…we’ll get to your TV situation another day. You’re not off the hook yet either.
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