MVC Heads Discuss New ESPN Deal In Media Conference Call

Courtesy:  Missouri Valley Conference/ESPN/NCAA

Courtesy: Missouri Valley Conference/ESPN/NCAA

Officials with ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference announced this week that both sides had come to terms on a new deal. The deal in question gives the worldwide leader in sports media rights for the next ten years. That means that it gives ESPN increased coverage across its various platforms on television and online through the 20023 – 2024 academic year. In celebration of the announcement leaders from some of the MVC’s participant schools took part in a media conference call along with ESPN VP of College Sports Programming IIan Ben-Hanan. Among the topics covered in the call were the impact of the deal on the conference’s ability to recruit and generally puts it on par with colleges and universities in other conferences, the impact of the deal on local coverage within given markets, coverage of MVC games on ESPN’s platforms and much more. The full transcript of yesterday’s conference call is included below for all fans of the Missouri Valley Conference and audiences in general.

Transcript of ESPN & Missouri Valley Conference Media Call to Announce 10-Year Rights Extension  

Doug Elgin: Good morning, everyone. We are here in Chicago at Loyola University’s School of Communications to announce a long-term extension of the ESPN rights agreement, which clearly signals a new era for our conference. For the term of this new agreement, which runs through the ’23/’24 academic year, the MVC and its member institutions will work together to produce thousands of live athletic events that will be distributed on ESPN3. The co-branded network that will launch next month, The Valley on ESPN3, serves to recognize that our conference continues to be committed to remaining competitive in a fast-changing NCAA Division I landscape. This exponential increase in exposure will bring significant emphasis to men’s and women’s basketball and every conference-sponsored sport.   A key aspect of this campus-based television model will be the involvement of students in the production of live athletics events, and this student involvement is central and foundational to this agreement. Students majoring in broadcast journalism, communications or other areas of study will receive hands-on experience that will enhance their qualifications and opportunities for employment in television media or related fields.   I’m very proud of the commitments that our president’s council and directors are making to our student-athletes and athletic programs and the campus communities in general. We believe ESPN’s commitment to our league through this new agreement is an acknowledgment of our men’s basketball competitiveness that we can compete at the highest level. Certainly Wichita State’s rise to national power and Northern Iowa’s strong run in recent years have opened doors for us, but we’re seeing a much more competitive league in men’s basketball top to bottom.   This new network will provide opportunities to promote academic programs and showcase individuals throughout our campus communities. We are extremely grateful that the Missouri Valley’s relationship with ESPN will be stronger than ever. I think today’s announcement represents one of the biggest steps the MVC has taken in the modern era. This new network will be a game changer for our league. We are a basketball-centric league and the extension of our ESPN agreement ensures we will continue to compete on a national stage. Coaches in every sport will use this exposure to recruit more effectively.   I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Rosalyn Durant, senior vice president of ESPN’s college networks, and Brent Colborne, the director of programming and acquisitions for their hard work in helping to make this strengthened relationship with the MVC possible. I would also like to commend the MVC Associate Commissioner Jack Watkins and media consultant Rick Chryst, who played critical roles in this process.

Ilan Ben-Hanan: Good morning. The Missouri Valley Conference has been a significant contributor to ESPN’s college sports content since our early years, and with this deal will continue to play a key role into the next decade, nearly 40 years since our first agreement. This extension places the conference and its member institutions at the forefront of innovative sports coverage.   The MVC has been a pioneer in embracing new technology. National coverage of multiple sports that didn’t previously exist to millions of fans is the latest example.  We all see the on-campus production initiative as an opportunity for both academic and athletic programs at the member institutions, with benefits that include hands-on experience for students and unprecedented exposure for sports that might otherwise not have been shown on television.

Larry Lyons: The relationship between The Valley and ESPN is tremendous news for MVC men’s basketball. It will provide national coverage for each Valley school as we produce live events for ESPN3. Not only are we building a national platform for our teams to showcase themselves, we are extending the reach of all of our institutions to friends, family, fans, alumni, prospective student-athletes and prospective students. I’m confident that each campus will strive to produce the highest quality of live content and use the creative talents of students and staff to tell the story of inside each contest.

David Wright: This is an exciting day for Drake University and our production. For 28 years we’ve been doing sports production at Drake. We are incredibly excited about the expertise that ESPN will give us and the infusion of excitement of students getting involved in more and more production. This is a new era. What I really am excited about it is it will put athletes and academics together at a greater level than we’ve ever before had at Drake. We are very excited about this.

Gregg Marshall: It obviously gives us an opportunity to play on national television and many different stations across the ESPN brand. We had GameDay here last year. I thought it was tremendous the way they were received as well as the way the league presented itself with the Northern Iowa team coming in as a top-10 team, we were top-10. It just made for great theater with the regular-season title on the line. I know we have the mandate from the league that our teams are supposed to try to participate in the exempt tournaments that are showcased on ESPN over the holiday season. We’ve been doing that for several years. We’re just excited and ecstatic to be able to showcase our league and our program at Wichita State on ESPN.

  1. Coach Marshall, how do you think this agreement maybe puts you closer, or more on par with, other conferences that you not only compete against but recruit against?

Marshall: Well, I think any time you can appear on ESPN, it helps you with not just your regional but national exposure. You can go anywhere and get ESPN channels, and now with ESPN3 from your laptop, which I’ve learned how to do myself. We have an Apple TV. We can watch just about any game now. The Valley is going to be able to talk about how many times you’re on television.   I think every game we played last year was on television. If it wasn’t on ESPN or CBS, then it was on statewide in Kansas. That was only a handful of times. We were on regionally and nationally 20-something times last year, which is great.  Now the other schools will be able to say the same thing. I think it really helps us from a recruiting standpoint, as you mentioned.

  1. Doug, what does it mean to the brand to have your Olympic sports more exposed to a larger audience? Secondly, you’ve been the commissioner for 28 years. There have been a lot of historic moments as commissioner. How does consummating a deal with the number one brand name in the world, how does that rank among your many accomplishments as the commissioner?

Elgin: It’s right up there at the very top. We’ve never underestimated the promotional power of ESPN. When you think about networks that you can partner with, you certainly look to the worldwide leader. I think through the years we’ve had probably seven or eight different contracts with ESPN. This one kind of fills in all the cracks, all of our sports programs are going to benefit. I think the programs that are going to gain the most are those that have been exposed the least. Those would be the Olympic sports. Baseball has been great. We’ve had three teams in the baseball tournament this year, and many years in past history.   I do think this is going to help our recruiting, our coaches, and every program will have the opportunity to tell recruits and their families they’ll be able to watch their sons and daughters play every game of their college careers essentially at home.

  1. Doug, I was curious, what is the financial benefit for the schools out of this deal?

Elgin: Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to talk about the finances of contracts that we have with media companies. I can’t really expound upon that.

  1. Commissioner Elgin, can you speak to the role that the students will have in this production? Is it the full scope of it? To what extent? Is there any concern or consideration for how this would impact quality since you’re lining that up against perhaps some more veteran, more experienced crew members?

Elgin: I’d like to kick that question to associate commissioner Jack Watkins who has been out in the field.

Jack Watkins: ESPN has been largely involved in this process even when we did not have a contract. There have been production professors, if you will, that have been involved with conference calls that have actually made trips to campuses to meet not only with athletic staff, but individuals like Professor David Wright at Drake, to help convey what ESPN expectations are, that production guidelines are met.   To answer your question about the involvement of students, it can be from either running cameras to directing or producing.  The long-term is to have as many students engaged and involved. This whole process with the build-out on campus began in earnest in September of 2014. As Doug communicated earlier, we are looking for a launch date on ESPN at or around September the 4. Our institutions as well as ESPN personnel have been in consistent dialogue to move forward and to produce the very best product we can on air.

Ben-Hanan: In addition to all the benefits and procedures and plans that Jack has described, the opportunity for a deal like this to help deepen and diversify our talent pool, find future people that can work for us or other media companies, is a great asset and part of this deal, something we’re excited about.

  1. Doug or Jack, I want to make sure I understand right. In previous years I could watch Valley games on ESPN3.  Educate me how this is different going forward. Secondly, I noticed in the release, there was a buildup, because it talks about a minimum of basketball games in the six-year agreement. Explain how this is going to roll out. What will fans notice different than in past years? 

Elgin: As Gregg Marshall pointed out, people are becoming much more comfortable accessing live content through mobile apps and WatchESPN. That’s going to be the biggest change. Every game we play in conference in men’s and women’s basketball will be televised in the early years of this agreement. We’re going to start with the court sports, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. There’s going to be an eagerness by our conference institutions to produce as many events as they can. They will have a blank page to write on. They can produce as many outdoor sporting events as they can capably handle in the early years. But we’re going to peak at literally 800-plus events a year in the final six years of the agreement.   We’re stair-stepping up to that with numbers that we’re capable of achieving. This is going to be a big endeavor for our schools. I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement on campuses. We’re going to tell stories that couldn’t be told on linear networks. We’re going to have opportunities to talk about individuals on campus, faculty members, students that are achieving in the classroom. I just think there’s going to be a whole new wave of opportunity to market and sell our schools.

  1. What does it mean for local packages then, like in Wichita?  Does that go away? 

Elgin: It does not. I think this contract very carefully protects our institutional packages at levels of production in past years, most recent years. We also have protection of our regional syndication. That’s been very important to us, the opportunity to produce games and put them on the regional networks. The best part of that is outside of our five-state footprint, ESPN3 will continue to carry all these games nationally. Again, I credit ESPN for allowing us to spread our games across multiple networks and platforms. We couldn’t be happier with the state of our television operation.

  1. Mr. Ben-Hanan, you talked about the student involvement with the ESPN3 product, with the involvement of each respective Missouri Valley Conference school. I guess on-air is going to be included with that student help. If that’s the case, is there any worry from the on-air quality you are going to get from your student broadcasters?

Ben-Hanan: Thanks for the question. I think all of these things are a process. I think we have had experience with other students involved in our productions at other schools and conferences. So we’re going into this with some expertise and some knowledge of that. Generally speaking, what we’re talking about here from student involvement does not always extend to on-air. Oftentimes we’re talking about the ability to help run cameras, the production truck, run graphics, and the ability to build up and ramp up to production and direction roles.   Certainly there could be an opportunity here or there for students to have some on-air roles. We’ve done things in past years literally involving students embedded in the student section, which gives you a perspective you can’t get otherwise. I think, generally speaking, anyone who rises to that role, we have an expectation of professionalism.  There would be rehearsals and opportunities that hopefully will allow for a level of quality. Having said that, there certainly will be a learning curve. I think we have an expectation that if fans are tuning in to a game, no matter how it’s produced, that it’s credible, that it’s professional, and that it is functional and allows fans to enjoy the game every bit as much as they would otherwise.

  1. Mr. Wright, I know from the Indiana State University campus, there’s a lot of talk about the students being involved primarily with the on-air stuff. From the Drake perspective, what are you planning on doing with your students? 

Wright: Excellent question. We’ve been doing video production for about 28 years in my time at Drake, starting from a delivery truck where we had folding tables. We train our students in a number of the production classes, but now we also have a production division that’s doing work for our steaming and scoreboards. We’ve already made investments in equipment in our production area in the journalism school that are actually very similar to the switcher, a little more powerful than the switcher we will be using in the athletics area. So we are starting to infuse that technology.   What we’re really excited about is the expertise ESPN brings on the graphics side, on the ‘look’ side, and also on the on-air talent side. We’re using a lot of students for on-air talent for some of our cablecasts streaming now. I think the initial thing will be working on the packages, behind the scenes, really understanding what’s going on in the different sports that would be hard for a crew that was coming in from out of town to really know that insight.  That’s where I see that coming eventually. I hope with training, the recruiting is going to change. We’re excited about releasing this to prospective students to say, Look at the opportunities you have to start working towards this.  Hopefully by the time they get to their senior year they’ll be up to snuff. My background says we can do this; we can produce the quality to be on ESPN.

  1. Doug, what is a good audience for the ESPN3?  What are kind of the projections since more and more people are cutting the cord on cable a little bit?  Is this a move towards the future? 

Elgin: I think we’d like to kick that question to our friend in Los Angeles, Ilan Ben-Hanan.

Ben-Hanan: For us a good audience is fans can see the game. We’re really not as concerned with the individual game metrics and trying to determine on a game-by-game basis the total size of the audience. A deal like this is both qualitative and quantitative in nature. And the ability to get these games on in a form that wasn’t even possible just a couple years ago, the ability to not have to worry about the shelf space concerns that have always been limiting for the amount of total games that can be on. That’s what is game-changing about a deal like this. Ultimately our hope is that for the student-athletes, their families, the fans of these schools, the fans of basketball in general, even for the selection committees in the various sports to see these teams, I think that has an impact, not just how many people are tuned in to a given game, but a team’s quest for championships.

  1. – Question regarding current access and the games moving to ESPN3 –

Watkins: Part of this deal, the commitment in the first year is to the core sports of volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball. But the long-term viability and sustainability of this network is to add more sports as the years go on. As part of the deal, those previous sports that were webcast will now be the exclusive property of The Valley on ESPN3.

  1. What kind of investment has The Valley estimated most schools are going to have to put into this to pull this off?

Elgin: I think that varies at each institution. As Professor Wright pointed out, Drake has long made investments in their infrastructure. They’ve been leaders in institutional telecasts. I think that commitment will continue.

  1. For ESPN, has the network ever done anything like this before with any other conference or any league? Is this completely groundbreaking in its nature? 

Ben-Hanan: We have had some experience working with some individual schools in doing these kind of what we call ‘school production deals’. We’ve had some conversations with some conferences that have kind of opened the door for the opportunity to do this. I think something like this done at the conference level with the support of both the academic and athletic sides of the house from the very beginning of the deal, that I think is what makes this very unique. We’ve had some experience, but doing something this comprehensive from the very beginning is something we’re really excited about.

  1. On the investment question. What about the actual equipment, cameras, things like that? Is ESPN going to be involved in helping foot that bill or is that up to the schools? 

Watkins: Any cost will be between the conference and the schools as it relates to the production build-out for our institutions. Again, it’s an initiative. Each school is different in terms of the equipment needs and the infrastructure. Any costs to acquire that equipment or those amenities to make the network viable will be between the conference and our 10 member institutions.   I think it’s important to recognize from the Missouri Valley Conference’s perspective that we have a co-branded channel mark in The Valley on ESPN, that the conference has a mark of which it’s proud. It’s a co-branded mark as a leader in the industry. I think that really becomes our calling card from this point forward.

Elgin: One other thing that differentiates our deal from the others is the tonnage, the sheer number of events that are going to be produced by our campuses and by The Missouri Valley for distribution on ESPN3. More information on ESPN’s coverage of Missouri Valley Conference athletics is available online along with all of the latest sports headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPN

  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Popeyes, ESPN Events Ink Long-Term Deal For Bahamas Bowl Sponsorship

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPN Events/Popeyes

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Events/Popeyes

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen announced this week that it will remain the title sponsor for the annual Bahamas Bowl.for the foreseeable future.

The company announced this week that it has signed a multi-year deal that will keep it as the title sponsor for the game, which is owned by ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN. The precise term-length of the deal was not announced. Pete Derzis, Senior VP of ESPN Events explained the motivation for extending Popeyes’ sponsorship for the bowl game after the deal was finalized. “Popeyes provided terrific support for the inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl last year,” he said. “This multiyear extension will allow us to build on the work they did last year and highlight this unique bowl experience.”

Popeyes CMO Hector A. Munoz added his thoughts on the deal, noting what it means for Popeyes and its reputation as a quickly growing company. “This news signifies the reach and power of the Popeyes brand,” he said. “We have established a new tradition with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl that will allow us to connect with fans in a forum they love — college football. Big brands do big things and we cannot think of a better demonstration of Popeyes growth and success. We are pleased to make this announcement!”

The inaugural Popeyes Bahamas Bowl was played in the post-season of the 2014 NCAA College Football season. It featured a matchup of Western Kentucky (C-USA) and Central Michigan (MAC) and was the first-ever post-season college football bowl game to be played outside of the U.S. or Canada since 1937. Western Kentucky won the game by a single point–49 – 48–over the Chippewas in what has gone on to become one of the most talked about bowl games in college football history since then. During the week leading up to the game, Popeyes co-hosted a hospitality event for members of both teams and institutions. It featured a then-new product called Ghost Pepper Wings. Upwards of 5,000 fans were able to sample the wings on game day in conjunction with a national rollout to a national TV audience in the U.S. during the course of the game. The 2015 Popeyes Bahamas Bowl will be played on Thursday, December 24th, 2015 in Nassau’s Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. It will once again feature a matchup of schools from C-USA and the MAC and will be televised nationally in the United States on ESPN.

More information on this game and all of ESPN’s college football coverage is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/ncf/index

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

More information on Popeyes and its products is available online now at:

Website: http://www.popeyes.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PopeyesLouisianaKitchen

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Events To Debut New College Football Bowl Game This Season

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

College football teams across the country will have yet another bowl to vie for when the 2015 – 2016 season kicks off this fall.

ESPN Events announced today that it will debut the Celebration Bowl this season. The game, which will debut Saturday, December 19th, is meant to pay tribute to the legacy and values of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The matchup will see the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champion take on the champion of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Pete Derzis, Senior VP of ESPN Events discussed the announcement with the press saying, “We could not be more pleased to have the Celebration Bowl kicking off the college football bowl season on ABC.” He went on to add the expectations for the inaugural game saying, “Not only will the first annual Celebration Bowl deliver a first-class postseason experience to the teams, their fans and their alumni; the live telecast on ABC will bring the thrill and pageantry of the bowl to fans across the nation.”

Both conferences’ commissioner also shared their thoughts on the upcoming game. Dennis Thomas, Commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, was optimistic for the game’s debut and appreciative for ESPN’s continued dedication to both conferences. “We are excited about today’s announcement that the Celebration Bowl will be telecast on ABC,” he said. “We are eagerly looking forward to participating in this wonderful opportunity to showcase our student-athletes, coaches, institutions and our conference on this national stage. We are appreciative to ESPN for their continued partnership and commitment to this postseason experience.”

SWAC head Duer Sharp was just as positive in his remarks about the game saying, “The SWAC is excited about the announcement of the inaugural Celebration Bowl being televised on ABC. This stage will provide the nation with a front-row seat into the passion, pride and heritage of the SWAC and HBCU football. Our coaches, student-athletes and SWAC fans across the nation look forward to meeting in ATL on December 19.” He also spoke on behalf of the SWAC in noting the conference’s appreciation for ESPN’s support of both the SWAC and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference saying “The SWAC appreciates ESPN and their family of networks for their continued support and for providing our fans and student athletes the opportunity to perform on this national platform.”

John Grant is CEO of the organization 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. He expressed his thoughts on what the game means to the city of Atlanta since the game will be played in the Georgia Dome and what it means for America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “We are excited to collaborate with ESPN to launch the Celebration Bowl and continue our longstanding tradition of delivering an annual HBCU college football showdown to fans in Atlanta,” he said. “Having the game televised on ABC will showcase the best in HBCU football on a national stage.”

More information on the inaugural Celebration Bowl is available online now along with all of the latest news from ESPN Events online at:

Website: http://www.espnevents.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNEvents

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Networks To Carry Full Coverage Of 2015 NCAA Division I College Baseball Tournament

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The weather around the country is finally warming up. And just as it is, so are things for the boys of summer. This includes not just the majors but the college ranks, too. The field for the College Baseball Championship tournament was set this past weekend. THIS weekend, the tournament itself begins. And when it does, ESPN and the ESPN family of networks will have full coverage of the tournament.

ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, and the SEC Network will combine to cover all 153 matchups from the tournament’s regions all the way to the College World Series. ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN 3 will carry coverage of the tournament’s Regional round (May 29th – June 1st). Super Regional coverage presented by Capital One (June 5th – 8th) will be carried on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU. And the world Series (June 13th – 24th) will be carried on ESPN and ESPN2.

Regional coverage will feature the return of ESPN’s four-day Bases Loaded platform. The Bases Loaded platform provides audiences with no fewer than thirty-nine hours of live, unlimited live cut-ins and highlights from a number of games. This includes up-to-the-minute commentary from ESPN’s analysts. ESPNU and ESPN2 will carry a total of thirty-one hours of Bases Loaded while ESPN3 will carry Bases Loaded coverage in its entirety. ESPNU and ESPN2 will carry ten hours of coverage this Friday and Saturday, followed by six hours of coverage on Sunday amd up to five hours of coverage next Monday. Matt Schick and Brendan Fitzgerald will have the call for the games. They will be joined by analysts Kyle Peterson and Ben McDonald for the broadcasts. the complete broadcast schedule for the tournament’s Regional round is listed below.

Site: Los Angeles, Calif.
Commentators: Clay Matvick, Mike Rooney
Teams: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Ole Miss, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 CSU Bakersfield
Networks: ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Maryland vs. Ole Miss: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – CSU Bakersfield vs. UCLA: May 29 at 11 p.m., ESPNU
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 11 p.m.

Site: Baton Rouge, La.
Commentators: Mike Keith, Rusty Ensor
Teams: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 UNC Wilmington, No. 3 Tulane, No. 4 Lehigh
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Lehigh vs. LSU: May 29 at 4 p.m., SEC Network
Game 2 – Tulane vs. UNC Wilmington: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 4 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Louisville, Ky.
Commentators: Doug Bell, Wes Clements
Teams: No. 1 Louisville, No. 2 Bradley, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Morehead State
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Michigan vs. Bradley: May 29 at 2 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Morehead State vs. Louisville: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 6 p.m.

Site: Gainesville, Fla.
Commentators: Mike Morgan, Dave Perno
Teams: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Florida Atlantic, No. 3 USF, No. 4 Florida A&M
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – USF vs. Florida Atlantic: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Florida A&M vs. Florida: May 29 at 7 p.m., SEC Network
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 6 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Coral Gables, Fla.
Commentators: Jason Benetti, Nick Belmonte
Teams: No. 1 Miami, No. 2 East Carolina, No. 3 Columbia, No. 4 Florida International
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Columbia vs. East Carolina: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Florida International vs. Miami: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Champaign, Ill.
Commentators: Jim Barbar, Jerry Kindall
Teams: No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Wright State, No. 4 Ohio
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Wright State vs. Notre Dame: May 29 a 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Ohio vs. Illinois: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 2 p.m.

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Commentators: Brett Dolan, Greg Swindell
Teams: No. 1 TCU, No. 2 NC State, No. 3 Stony Brook, No. 4 Sacred Heart
Networks: ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Stony Brook vs. NC State: May 29 at 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Sacred Heart vs. TCU: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Springfield, Mo.
Commentators: Anish Shroff, Landon Powell
Teams: No. 1 Missouri State, No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Canisius
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Oregon vs. Iowa: May 29 at 2 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Canisius vs. Missouri State: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 2 p.m.

Site: College State, Texas
Commentators: Tom Hart, Gabe Gross
Teams: No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 2 Coastal Carolina, No. 3 Cal, No. 4 Texas Southern
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Cal vs. Coastal Carolina: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Texas Southern vs. Texas A&M: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Site: Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Kevin Dunn, Keith Moreland
Teams: No. 1 Dallas Baptist, No. 2 Oregon State, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 VCU
Networks: ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1- Texas vs. Oregon State: May 29 at 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – VCU vs. Dallas Baptist: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Nashville, Tenn.
Commentators: Dave Neal, Chris Burke
Teams: No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Radford, No. 3 Indiana, No. 4 Lipscomb
Network: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Indiana vs. Radford: May 29 at 3 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Lipscomb vs. Vanderbilt: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Site: Houston, Texas
Commentators: Doug Sherman, John Gregory
Teams: No. 1 Houston, No. 2 Rice, No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 4 Houston Baptist
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Rice: May 29 at 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Houston Baptist vs. Houston: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Tallahassee, Fla.
Commentators: Mike Couzens, Eduardo Perez
Teams: No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 College of Charleston, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 Mercer
Networks: SEC Network or ESPN3
Game 1 – Auburn vs. College of Charleston: May 29 at Noon, ESPN3
Game 2 – Mercer vs. Florida State: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 6 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 6 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 6 p.m.

Site: Lake Elsinore, Calif.
Commentators: Trey Bender, Jay Walker
Teams: No. 1 UC Santa Barbara, No. 2 USC, No. 3 Virginia, No. 4 San Diego State
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Virginia vs. USC: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – San Diego State vs. UC Santa Barbara: May 29 at 10 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 9 p.m.

Site: Stillwater, Okla.
Commentators: Mark Neely, Jay Powell
Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Oral Roberts, No. 4 St. John’s
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas: May 29 at 1 p.m., SEC Network
Game 2 – St. John’s vs. Oklahoma State: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Fullerton, Calif.
Commentators: Roxy Bernstein, Randy Flores
Teams: No. 1 Cal State Fullerton, No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Pepperdine
Networks: ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Clemson vs. Arizona State: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Pepperdine vs. Cal State Fullerton: May 29 at 10 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 11 p.m.

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NCAA Division I College Baseball tournament is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-sports

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPN

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Events Acquires Another College Football Bowl Game

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPN Events

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Events

Officials with ESPN Events announced today that it has acquired the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl. The bowl, which was previously owned by Bahamas Bowl, LLC, debuted last season. It is played at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau. It will be held on Christmas Eve this year and will feature one team from Conference USA taking on a select team from the Mid-American conference. Last year’s debut game featured Western Kentucky (C-USA) taking on Central Michigan (MAC). It was the first time that a college football bowl game had been held outside the United States or Canada since 1937. Western Kentucky won the game by a single point 49 – 48. Both teams spent time off the field with children at Nassau’s Ranfurly Homes For Children and at a youth football clinic held by the heads of the Bahamas Bowl, fulfilling the bowl’s mission statement vowing to give back to the people of the Bahamas.

ESPN Events Senior VP Pete Derzis spoke on behalf of the company, expressing the company’s gratitude for for the country’s support of the bowl game and the company’s determination to live up to the country’s expectations saying, “We are excited to be adding the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl to our portfolio of events. “The inaugural game was a tremendous success, and we hope to build on that by bringing a one-of-a-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The level of support from the entire country of the Bahamas makes this event truly unique — making this game a true destination event that fans across the country will want to attend and support.”

ESPN Events will hold a press conference on Wednesday, June 10th at a local Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl summit at which the company will officially announce ESPN Events as the bowl game’s new owner. The summit will be held at the Atlantis – Paradise Island.

More information on ESPN’s college football coverage is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/ncf/index

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s College GameDay To Air Live From Wichita State For The First Time February 28th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Next Saturday’s broadcast of ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm is another big one for the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

Next Saturday, ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm will broadcast live from the campus of Wichita State. The broadcast will marks the first time ever that College GameDay Covered by State Farm will have ever broadcast live from the university’s campus. Saturday morning’s edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm will kick off live at 10am ET on ESPNU and will continue at 11am on ESPN. It will precede the matchup of No. 13 Wichita State ad No. 11 Northern Iowa. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 2pm ET.

The eveing edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm will come live at 4pm ET on ESPN. It will come live from Lawrence, Kansas ahead of No. 8 Kansas taking on Texas. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 5pm ET. Saturday evening’s broadcast from Lawrence marks the sixth time since 2005 that College GameDay Covered by State Farm has broadcast live from the University of Kasas. The last time that it originated from Lawrence, Kansas was 2013.

Stephen A. Smith will appear alongside host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, and Jay Williams for the A.M. edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm. Once they finish with the morning edition, Davis and company will pack up and head to Lawrence for the evening edition. Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will have the call for the Jayhawks-Longhorns game while Rich Hollenberg, Seth Greenberg, and Mark Adams will have the mic for the matchup of the Shockers and Panthers. Shannon Spake will be on the sidelines for the Kansas-Texas game.

All customers with access to ESPN3 will be able to watch that game with ESPN3 Surround featuring in-arena natural sound and exclusive views from high above the rim at each end of the court.
More information on next Saturdays’ broadcasts of College GameDay Covered by State Farm and all of the ESPN networks’ college basketball coverage is available online at:

Website: https://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ESPNCBB

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s College GameDay Hits The Hardwood In Arizona February 21st

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s live coverage of the 2014 – 2015 college basketball season continues next Saturday, February 21st live from Tucson, Arizona.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports’ live college basketball pre-game and post-game show, College GameDay Covered by State Farm will come live from Tucson, Arizona and the campus of Arizona University next Saturday, February 21st. The broadcast comes ahead of the matchup of the Wildcats and Bruins on ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV. Tipoff is scheduled for 9pm ET. ESPN’s GameDay coverage kicks off at 10am ET on ESPNU. It continues live at 11am ET on ESPN. An evening edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm will air at 6pm ET on ESPN. That broadcast comes ahead of a matchup of the #1 Kentucky Wildcats and the Auburn Tigers. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 7pm ET.

Fans with access to ESPN3 will be able to watch the Arizona-UCLA game with ESPN3 Surround. It features in-arena natural sound and camera views that include above-the-rim shots at each end of the court.

Next Saturday’s broadcast of College GameDay Covered by State Farm will be the show’s second appearance in Tucson. Its first appearance was in 2012. It will also be the fifth time that UCLA will have appeared as part of the Saturday Primetime game at GameDay.

Rece Davis will helm Saturday’s edition of College GameDay Covered by State Farm. Davis will be joined by analyst Jay Bilas on-site. They will be joined by first-year analysts on College GameDay Covered by State Farm Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will have the call for the Arizona-UCLA game. Reporter Shannon Spake will have all of the latest on the game from the sidelines as well as all of the latest college basketball news.

More information on Saturday’s broadcast of College GameDay Covered by State Farm and all of the latest college basketball news is available online at:

Website: https://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ESPNCBB

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.