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Notre Dame Has NBC, Why Can’t Jackson State Have Barstool?

“Change is what keeps the Earth spinning. College football is not so precious that it has been spared from that. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable, but resisting it is a fool’s errand.”

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Deion Sanders pulled off an absolute coup on Wednesday. On the early National Signing Day, Travis Hunter, a defensive back from Suwanee, Georgia, chose Jackson State University over Florida State, where he had been verbally committed for over a year.

The news sent shockwaves through the college football media. This kid was ranked #1 amongst all high school seniors on 247Sports, #2 on the ESPN300, and #1 on Rivals. If a kid with that pedigree flips from an earlier commitment, usually it is to go to a national power like Bama or Georgia. It isn’t to go to an underfunded HBCU in Mississippi.

That is the changing world of college football and the power of celebrity. It’s not just that Deion Sanders is an icon to these kids. It’s that he has created Jackson State’s own media machine through his relationship with Barstool Sports. It is a problem for some that cover the sport. To me, it is evolution. How is Barstool’s relationship with Jackson State any different than NBC’s with Notre Dame?

Set aside for a moment however you feel about Barstool as a brand. Just look at this objectively. It is a media company that is an offshoot of a bigger business throwing all of its weight behind a college football program that it values. NBC wants gold helmets. Barstool wants Coach Prime.

Travis Hunter will reportedly have a million dollar NIL deal with Barstool and parent company Penn National. NIL deals and reality shows may be different from what we are used to in terms of media support for college football, but it is where we are in 2021. Don’t be mad at Barstool for doing all it can to boost the college football brand it has associated itself with. Question why Notre Dame hasn’t demanded the same from NBC and parent company Comcast.

I don’t fall into the “Dave Portnoy and Erika Nardini are business geniuses” camp. Their willingness to take risks isn’t impressive, it is how a business should operate. It makes it all the more frustrating that companies with more money don’t think the same way.

NBC is a perfect example. Everything about the network’s coverage of Notre Dame is built on “hey weren’t the 80s great?”. It’s generic and has been for a long time. NBC is selling gold helmets and Touchdown Jesus.

Notre Dame's 'Touchdown Jesus'

Barstool is selling stars. This relationship with Deion Sanders and Jackson State is different and new and the attitude is “if this doesn’t work, no big deal. We’ll just stop doing it.” Old college football fans and the media members that feel like it is their job to get the NCAA’s message out there are never going to like it. They’re also never going to admit that it is the networks not adapting to the times that are the problem.

This summer, the NCAA did absolutely the bare minimum it could for players, allowing them to profit off their name, image, and likeness. That was a major seachange in college sports. Players and coaches were expected to adapt. Compliance departments had to learn what the new rules were. Why would we not expect that the other stakeholders in the sport would have to do the same?

Does this mean ESPN needs to come up with a way to take care of Alabama, Clemson, and the top teams in other conferences the network has deals with? Not exactly, but Disney is a big company. If it wants its investment in the SEC and ACC to be worth every penny it paid, I could see an ad campaign for a college student discount on Disney+ being built around a prized quarterback headed to Alabama or around a top-shelf point guard that is committed to Duke.

Now, do I like it? I mean, I’m not in love with the thought that it could be how the sport operates, but I also know that enticements for kids to attend a certain school is nothing new. Steven Godfrey’s 2014 story “Meet the Bag Man” should be required reading for every college football fan.

Change is what keeps the Earth spinning. College football is not so precious that it has been spared from that. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable, but resisting it is a fool’s errand.

You don’t like the fact that Barstool has an intimate relationship with Deion Sanders and a financial interest in him and Jackson State succeeding? That is fine, but ask yourself is you discomfort that that kind of relationship exists or that it exists for a school like Jackson State?

We cheer when a local barbecue restaurant sponsors the entire Arkansas offensive line. We laugh when a local MMA gym offers NIL deals to every Miami Hurricane. They play on the biggest level. They are supposed to be treated like that.

Jackson State is supposed to be an afterthought. They are supposed to stay in their corner, in a lower tier, playing games that don’t matter to most fans. It isn’t about the racial makeup of the school’s student population. It is about the way the college football media sets you up to follow the sport.

The NCAA and its member conferences want to sell coaches and helmets as the stars and that is it. That means USC matters. Ohio State matters. Michigan matters.

Jackson State doesn’t matter. That means they have to do this a different way. The old ways left that school and others like it behind. Barstool’s relationship with Deion Sanders gives his team resources. Resources give them the chance to turn National Signing Day on its ear and make headlines.

Coach Prime: Deion Sanders, JSU to star in doc - HBCU Gameday
Courtesy: Barstool

NBC could have done the same for Notre Dame and chose not to. If you’re a Notre Dame fan, don’t be mad at Barstool and Jackson State for changing the game. Be mad at NBC for refusing to play.

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Greg Hill to Jeff Van Gundy: ‘You Sounded Like You Were on the Bucks’ Payroll’

“After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.”

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ESPN

They are nothing if not blunt in Boston. That was the case Tuesday morning when The Greg Hill Show welcomed ABC/ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy to the program to preview the Eastern Conference Finals.

Overall, it was a cordial visit. Questions mostly focused on the headlines related to officiating throughout the playoffs and what the Celtics would have to do to make it to the NBA Finals, which Van Gundy thinks will happen.

“I think Boston’s been the best team in the league,” he said. “I think they’re gonna win it all this year.”

Greg Hill said after the conference semi-finals matchup with Milwaukee, he was surprised to hear Jeff Van Gundy felt that way.

“Jeez, I’m glad to hear you say that,” Hill told Van Gundy. “It almost sounded like you were on the Bucks’ payroll at times during that last series.”

After a pregnant pause, Van Gundy answered through laughter, throwing a zinger right back at Hill and crew.

“You know what? I get used to that and then the Bucks people say I want Boston to win. Not that you guys would be homers or anything.”

Jeff Van Gundy will join Mike Breen and Mark Jackson at the broadcast table for the Eastern Conference Finals on ABC and ESPN. Game 1 between the Celtics and Heat is scheduled for Tuesday night at 8:30 in Miami.

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99.7 The Fox Becomes New Carolina Panthers Flagship

“The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004.”

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The Carolina Panthers are on the move in Charlotte. The team is leaving WBT. Their new radio home will be 99.7 The Fox, iHeartMedia’s classic rock station.

The station will carry all Panthers game broadcasts, the Panthers pregame and postgame shows as well the team’s weekly coach’s show. There will also be an on-site presence for every home game at Bank of America Stadium.

“We are thrilled to increase iHeartSports NFL partnerships with the addition of the Carolina Panthers. The passion between a sports team and its fan base is one-of-a-kind, and we’re thrilled to expand the Carolina Panthers’ reach to their passionate supporters with our new multi-media deal,” Kevin LeGrett, President of iHeartMedia Sports, said in a press release. “iHeart’s reach in Charlotte is unprecedented, meaning more fans will hear their favorite team than ever before. The partnership will include broadcast, streaming, podcast, events, marketing and promotional elements which will drive results for the Panthers!”

“The team at 99.7 The Fox is delighted to once again be the broadcast home of the Carolina Panthers, bringing best-in-class content from the team to its dedicated and passionate fans,” Dave Carwile, President of iHeartMedia Multi-Platform Group – Charlotte, added. “We know how special the relationship and connection between the city of Charlotte, the Panthers and the fan base is, and we’re thrilled to enhance that bond with an expanded coverage area reaching more fans on 99.7 The Fox. We can’t wait to get started.”

The new deal represents a return to The Fox for the Panthers. The station was the team’s flagship from 2000 through 2004. Every other year of the franchise’s existence, their games have been heard on WBT.

“The Panthers are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Radio One, and the role that WBT has played in sharing some of the greatest moments in franchise history for 22 seasons, including each of the past 17,” Jake Burns, Chief Commercial Officer for the Carolina Panthers, said.

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Indiana Sports Talk Station Set To Flip Formats

“The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”.

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Sports fans in Muncie, Indiana may soon lose their favorite sports station. Listeners to Muncie Sports 92.5 have heard promos teasing a new station coming to the frequency.

The promos say that station owner Woof Boom Broadcasting is “building a new radio station for Muncie and Delaware County”. The station has also changed its call letters. What was WXFN is now WMUN.

Muncie Sports 92.5 airs on two signals. 1340 AM is a 1000 watt station. 92.5 FM is a translator signal.

The station airs an hour-long local show hosted by Mark Foerster on weekdays at 4 pm. It carries syndicated programming from FOX Sports Radio and is the local affiliate for the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Cincinnati Reds, IndyCar Series, Ball State University football and women’s basketball, and three local high schools.

ESPN 680 is still available from nearby Marion,IN. Two Indianapolis sports talk stations are strong enough to be heard in the town as well according to Radio Locator.

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