Champions Bowl preview?
Did you see how much money the Big Ten and Pac-12 recently landed to keep the Rose Bowl on ESPN? The SEC and Big 12 certainly did. According to the SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN will pay an average of $80 million per year to air the Rose Bowl from 2015 through 2026. That's a 167-percent jump from what ESPN currently pays. The Big Ten and Pac-12 keep that money except in years when the Rose Bowl is part of the new four-team playoff. Now can the SEC and Big 12 get equivalent money as their new Champions Bowl hits the market? "We'll find out," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. "Our goal is to create a great game, to play it on primetime on New Year's Day with two of the best football conferences in the country playing each other. So we have every reason to at least be optimistic."
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
There is really no one close at the moment. Saban has won three BCS national championships at two schools in nine years, including two in the last three years. And he did recruit a fourth – 2007 national champion LSU. And there could be one or two more in the not so distant future. The amazing thing about Saban other than his unparalleled recruiting and NFL placement of his players is how he continues to come back from adversity. The 21-0 win over LSU in the 2011-12 BCS title game was the greatest victory of his career because it came after his second straight loss to LSU and after blowing a 21-0 lead to Auburn in the 2010 season. His 2009 national title at Alabama came just two years after the worst loss of his career – to Louisiana-Monroe. His 2003 national title at LSU came one season after going 8-5. He has the best SEC record going at 32-8 for 80 percent.
"Attendance relates to scheduling, too," Slive said. "Who you're playing, that's an attraction." Alabama doesn't have a very attractive home schedule this year, but it operates in a different world. Braynt-Denny Stadium was expanded in 2010, and Alabama says its waiting list for season tickets continues to be more than 20,000. "We're very fortunate with our support, but you can never take it for granted," Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore said. "We always want to enhance the fan experience."
“I’m just another sign of hope and faith because when it comes down to it, I came from nothing,” Richardson said. “I came from the same streets these kids are going to play sandlot football in or pickup basketball games in and see these people sell drugs right in front of their faces. I’ve got a good, praying family that keeps me down to earth, and my little girls just kept me working.”
Immediate Impact: Because of his versatility, linebacker Dont’a Hightower figures to get plenty of opportunities to get on the field for the defense. Based on his skillset and deployment for the Alabama defense, Hightower looks as though he could play strongside linebacker in the 4-3, anywhere in the 3-4 and alongside Jerod Mayo in the nickel. Hightower is a prototypical inside linebacker, but he has the versatility to rush the passer off the edge, both standing up and with his hand in the dirt (or FieldTurf, if you want to be technical). Anyway, the Patriots ran into trouble last year when Mayo and Brandon Spikes struggled with injuries, so Hightower could play a key role on the defense in a few different situations right away.
4) Jerrell Harris: Almost every player that played a starting role at the University of Alabama has at least a shot at playing in the NFL because of the experience football players get in Nick Saban’s pro-style football program. A two-year starter at Alabama, Harris has experience at both strong and weakside linebacker, allowing him to be a more versatile backup to starters Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas. There’s some experience at depth linebacker ahead of Harris, but if he can perform well on special teams during training camp, he has a real shot at making the team.
Former University of Alabama football coach Gene Stallings will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Martin Environmental Wiregrass Football Festival. Also headlining this year’s event are several area restaurants, all competing to see which one can present the best tailgate food. Coldwell Banker In Story 2 Collegiate football vendors will be on hand as well as the Alabama National Guard, which will offer attendees the chance to try their hands at various games of athletic skill. The event takes place August 11, 2012, at the Dothan Civic Center, and the doors will open at 4 pm.
Additionally the settlement dictates that EA will not renew its current agreement with the NCAA – which is currently set to expire after NCAA Football 14 – for a period of at least five years. The company is also not allowed to make a deal with Arena Football for that same period. This will not affect any plans for exclusivity with the NFL though EA appears to be the less satisfied party between the two anyway. It’s not entirely clear whether that means EA will be unable to produce an NCAA licensed game or if they’ll just have to come to an agreement on a non-exclusive deal but it’s probably the latter. It’s unlikely any other company would be prepared, or find it financially viable regardless, to jump in under that scenario.
Seven years after they were cut from the games, baseball and softball have agreed to merge into a single international federation in a joint bid to return to the Olympics. The two sports, which were last played at the 2008 Beijing Games, each failed in separate attempts to win reinstatement for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. The heads of the two governing bodies said Saturday they plan to unite into the International Baseball and Softball Federation in hopes of increasing their chances of coming back for the 2020 Games. A major obstacle still stands in the way -- getting major league baseball stars to play. "Without that, we'll have an uphill battle," International Softball Federation president Don Porter told The Associated Press.