Three months until September and the Southeastern Conference is looking even more dominant.
Without a football in view, the SEC and ESPN are looking at a spring slate custom made for the launch of their joint television venture.
The hoops season may not have been the championship push but seriously — two of the Final Four teams on the men’s side in Florida and Kentucky to package with Counzo’s Last Stand on Rocky Top run to the Sweet 16. That’s wait for next season gold.
The Lady Vols weren’t in the Final Four. Neither were contenders LSU or Kentucky or Texas A&M, which likely will give the conspiracy theorist some pause in the contention that the conference and its network partner aren’t manipulating the outcomes.
The Women’s College World Series ended Tuesday with an all SEC final as Florida downed Alabama for the crown. That was after top-seeded Oregon cruised into Tornado Alley without a regional blemish then failed to score a single run in losses to first Florida then to the Tide. After three conference teams were in the final eight that made it to Oklahoma. After almost half the regional sites went to SEC schools.
And it could have been even more lopsided. Oklahoma may have eliminated UT in the super region round in that Saturday night to Sunday third game but the only team to sweep Florida this season, the Lady Vols. The only team Alabama doesn’t want to see in tournament play, Tennessee. The Weeklys’ squad was talked about by the broadcast teams almost as much as if they had actually made it back into that final eight.
College baseball is through its first elimination round and look who is left standing as the super region weekend approaches. After starting with a record 10 teams in the field — that’s right only four SEC schools weren’t selected to play some more — only two made it through. The league was 22-16 and left a trail of the best headlines through the regional round. Florida being the only SEC team to go 0-2 was an ugly one but they’ll be debating the Aggies and Longhorns pod final for awhile not to mention how in the world Kennesaw State beat Alabama but how host Florida State did the same 0-2 hosting debacle as the Gators. Vandy’s pitching and Ole Miss’ hitting for 17 runs over three games? All commentary fodder for that football conference.
With the postseason contracts ESPN already owns it seems like the brains back in Disneyland did know what they were doing in hooking up with the SEC. The major revenue sports for television — and while there are certainly other NCAA sports, the ones the networks carry to make money are football, basketball, baseball and softball — are so easily digested between ESPN and the SEC Network.
It’s like a fan in the crowd holding up the sign in the background. The one that spells out a message with the network letters, “Exclusive SEC Partner Network.” Content providers and consumers may be balking at the price of carrying the fledgling network, but that’s merely posturing. We’ll all end up paying the extra dollar or two a month as the new network wedges into the hole conveniently left open by the sudden demise of CSS. It’s almost like a conspiracy within an enigma wrapped around a secret templar treasure held in trust for the Silent ESPN Controller.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times and has no intention of aggravating the Illuminati or Skull & Bones with this column but will enjoy reading comments posted to thedailytimes.com.