As we awakened south of Arlington to head to College Station we were greeted with this sky. It doesn't look like a good one for baseball, but the forecast calls for good weather after rain chances today.
In the meantime, here are some comments from an interview with AD Ross Bjork, who is representing Ole Miss at the SEC spring business meetings for the first time. ...
What were your expectations for your first SEC spring meetings? “My expectations were that it's a big-time conference, obviously the best in college athletics, so the discussions are at a very high level. As leaders in the industry, as the SEC is, we're talking at a national level. There's a national perspective on everything that we talk about. Those were the expectations.
“As it relates to Ole Miss, it gives us the platform and the foundation to compete at the highest level but also to be exposed at the highest level with our media contracts, digital rights that are being discussed and the future of our television contracts. There are more exposure opportunities through ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN2, ESPN3, Watch ESPN, all the apps and mobile devices. As it relates to Ole Miss and our future, obviously the revenue is going to continue to increase through the conference, but also the exposure and the opportunity to play at the highest level in all our sports.
"All those things are being met, because we're part of this great league, and we have to do our part. We have to compete, and we have to deliver championships. That's our goal as we move ahead.
Where do discussions stand for an SEC Network? The commissioner has been very careful not to discuss that in too much detail publicly or privately. I think there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes. We haven't been briefed in too much detail on that project, so we're keeping it pretty close to the vest.
“I can tell you that the SEC means a whole lot nationally. It will mean a whole lot to a network provider, to the SEC platform, however that's defined in the future. If you look comparably at other conferences, we're going to fit that same type of profile from a platform standpoint. I'm excited about the future. As we learn more about that over the next months and years it will be exciting for our fans to have more access and more information. The revenue has yet to be determined, but we believe there's an up side, and that will come together in the coming months and coming years."
Has the league gotten what it wanted from expansion in terms of TV markets? Do you see the revenue rising? “Yes indeed. Households have increased dramatically. We're up to over 80 millions households that cover the SEC product with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M and being in Texas, the Kansas City and St. Louis markets and those sorts of things.
“There's no question that the impressions and the households have increased. Now we're waiting on what that means from a contract standpoint, so the conference is waiting on ESPN to give a proposal back, and CBS, they're in discussions with them as well. We haven't seen the direct correlation yet from a numbers standpoint, but we should know something this summer as it relates to those two contracts. What we're seeing is the value of those two institutions is coming to fruition as it relates to these talks, and the numbers are still being worked out by the conference and the networks.”
Where does the football schedule discussion stand at this point? “We're ready to make those announcements as the meetings conclude on Friday. We're gearing toward that 6-1-1 rotation, and we're looking at Vanderbilt as our permanent Eastern Division partner. The other side has to be determined. Is it a single rotation, is it a double rotation?
“I like our matchup from a geographic standpoint, a rivalry standpoint, a competitive standpoint. I know coach Freeze is on board with that as well and that Vanderbilt likes that opportunity to have a close-proximity rival. That will be fun. We have a lot of fans in Nashville. We'll know how it will look at the end of the week, but an 8-12-year cycle is what we're looking at locking down.