And the SEC has got plenty of it — whatever you choose it to be. Money, titles, bravado, famous coaches and players, money, support of its fans, envy of its rivals. And money.
There’s public relations, and then there’s a parade of champions strutting across the stage in an expansive ballroom at a ritzy downtown hotel in Atlanta just to illustrate how good the Southeastern Conference has it.
Then there are ESPN officials on the dais and around the room with a “we’re better than you” look on their faces. Heck, its president even took a not-so-subtle shot at any foe from FOX or NBC who dares challenge the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
There’s no question — with Thursday’s official announcement of the SEC/ESPN Network, the rich executives get richer, the strong recruiters get stronger.
Was the presentation over the top? Eh, maybe a little. Showing a video montage opening with the line, “The most powerful conference in college sports,” is fairly bold — especially when Forbes reported in January the SEC’s profits trail the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC.
Are the prime officials overly confident? Time will tell. SEC commissioner Mike Slive isn’t out of line to call this “The Golden Age of the SEC.” And by the way, kudos for dropping an Aesop fable: “The level of success is limited only by our imagination. And using our imagination, the SEC has dreamed big.”
But it takes more than imagination to sway the powerful organizations who make ESPN available to consumers.
So AT&T U-verse is on board. Whoop-de-do. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association estimates that takes care of 4.5 million viewers nationwide.
Meanwhile, Comcast, Time Warner, DISH Network and DirecTV combine for 68 million subscribers. Those fat cats won’t necessarily hand the SEC and ESPN what they want — not right away, at least.
Good thing opening night isn’t for 15 months, but those negotiations better start sooner rather than later. Just ask the Big Ten and Pac-12 how difficult it is to get their ducks in a row and avoid angering fans who can’t watch their favorite team immediately.
But speaking of the Big Ten Network, apparently SEC/ESPN leaders have a little trouble with the memory bank. ESPN president John Skipper said, “We’re quite confident this is a new and unique opportunity and nothing like this has been done before,” adding reasons in his head how this is different — even though it really isn’t.
Look, for the sake of SEC fans, they should trust Slive, Skipper and SEC Network boss Justin Connolly to integrate this smoothly into your household by next year.
They hold the privilege of self-promotion. Success comes with rewards.