Tonight, I found myself sitting in front of a TV waiting for 6 p.m. and the launch of the Pac-12 Networks. I subscribe to well over 100 channels, roughly 10 of which had something even remotely palatable. I could have watched any one of those things. Instead I found myself in front of a TV watching a simple time countdown on a blue background for over 15 minutes. To the average on looker, I would have looked insane. But, I can guarantee, every fan of a Pac-12 school knew exactly where I was coming from.
We survived the Pac-10 TV contract. The launch of the Pac-12 network means the end to huddling around a radio to listen to a major college football game. It means the end of hunting down a shoddy internet stream from a Utah TV station showing a game played in Pullman. It means the end of the archaic TV policies of this conference.
The football games won't start for another two weeks, but this network means more than football. The coverage will allow teams from every sport to be seen in a way no other conference can offer. These teams, from sports from basketball and volleyball to swimming and gymnastics, are some of the best in the nation and the kind of coverage being offered can only help them grow.
The networks launched tonight with a variety of programs that display exactly how the conference will be covered. If the programs that aired tonight are any indication, fans of Pac-12 schools will have a lot to look forward to. Below the jump, I'll offer an overview and review of the three main programs the Pac-12 Network aired on launch night.
The future is bright Pac-12 fans.
The night started out with a killer video describing the history of the conference, from the Pacific Athletic Conference, to the Pac-8, Pac-10 and Pac-12. Like all of the promos and videos I've seen so far, it was very slick and well put together. Neil Stover, who is basically the same person as me, stole my dream job and he and his team are doing a great job in the edit bay. We then go inside the new studio and meet our hosts, Mike Yam and Ashley Adamson. Yam, an ESPN alum, and Adamson will do the bulk of the studio hosting. I've always liked Yam on ESPN and, while I've never heard of Adamson, she does a very good job as well.
The first segment on the show discussed the conference's success in London during the Olympics. Summer Sanders, mostly of Nickelodeon's Figure it Out fame, hosted an interview with two Pac-12 Olympians and talked about the significance of the Pac-12's dominance.
The rest of the show consisted of Rick Neuheisel, Ronnie Lott and Glenn Parker discussing each conference football team. The network is in a good place with these three behind the desk. Lott and Parker are great behind the mic and, while I'm not exactly the biggest fan of Neuheisel as a coach, he's a serviceable analyst.
The show was a great mix of football and Olympic sports. They didn't give out too much introductory information and the coverage of all sports was intelligent and entertaining.
Pac-12 Football Preview
This was basically exactly what you would think it would be, done very well. Hosted by Yam, this program took the football preview segment from Pac-12 Live to a deeper level. During the one hour run-time, they gave each team their own, longer segment including video interviews from Pac-12 media day and analysis from the Neuheisel and Parker.
In case your interested, Rick Neuheisel said he thinks the Cougars are going to make a bowl game this year. He also borrowed a phrase from his former job and claimed he had "Cougar Fever." For what it's worth, during the Washington segment, he picked Washington to upset LSU (in the real world. Not in NCAA 13).
This is really just a preview to the individual team previews coming soon. The half hour Washington State preview premieres Monday at 8 p.m. following an encore of the Cougar's game against Colorado from last year. For a full list of previews, check out the schedule here.
Conference of Champions
Any show who features Drew Bledsoe in their first segment ever, gets a good grade from me. "Conference of Champions" is the Pac-12 Network's news magazine program, featuring in-depth interviews from people associated with the conference. Each episode will have a theme and tonight's theme was overall number one NFL draft picks. In the first interview, Rick Neuheisel stopped by Bledsoe's Walla Walla winery to talk about everything from the snow bowl (which was featured prominently in a lot of network promos) to his time in the NFL. The other two interviews featured Andrew Luck and Alex Smith.
This is just a taste of what the network has to offer. Once the season shifts into gear, there will be even more new content. If you don't have the network yet, don't overreact. While the three shows tonight were entertaining and very cool to see, it was nothing to die for. However, it may be time to take action as the season progresses. These kinds of shows will be invaluable as a perfect in-season companion.