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Outback sweetens pot with SEC, ESPN
By ANTONYA ENGLISH and BRIAN LANDMAN
Published July 28, 2005
HOOVER, Ala. - After four months of negotiations, the SEC, ESPN and the Outback Bowl have agreed to a four-year deal that extends through the January 2010 game and is worth $30.9-million for the SEC and the Big Ten.
The Outback Bowl will celebrate its 20th anniversary this season. The extension comes one week after new contracts were agreed upon with the Big Ten and title sponsor Outback Steakhouse.
"We've had an excellent long-term relationship with the Big Ten and the SEC," said Jim McVay, president and CEO of the Outback Bowl. "The game has performed magnificently in the Tampa Bay area, bringing teams like the Ohio States and Michigans and Wisconsins to play the Floridas, Georgias, Tennessees, Alabamas and Auburns. It's worked, and when things are working, you try not to fix something unless it's broken."
As part of the agreement, each team will receive $3-million for the 2007 bowl (up from a total of $5.7-million in 2006) with an additional $100,000 per team over the next three years. The game will retain the third choice from both conferences (after the BCS and the Capital One Bowl); from the SEC, the game has an "eastern (east division) preference".
During the months of negotiations, the SEC was courted by other suitors, so keeping the game is a testament to what the Tampa Bay area offers, bowl officials said.
"There were a lot of other options out there that the Big Ten and SEC could have looked at, but in the end, we were able to offer enough to them to stay with us," said Mike Schulze, the Outback Bowl director of communications and sponsorships. "We've got one of the best stadiums in the country, one of the best destinations and we're on New Year's Day."
BAD PRESS: With his team gracing page 11C of Wednesday's USA Today (with the headline "Is Tennessee football out of bounds?"), coach Phillip Fulmer made it clear he's unhappy that more of the "bad news" about football players makes it into the media than good news. Over the past 16 months, the Vols players have been involved in multiple incidents involving assault, gun charges and shoplifting, to name a few. Fulmer's players attending media day were also a little miffed by all the bad publicity.
"It's tough when 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-year-old guys get in situations where every decision they make is basically a life-changing decision," quarterback Rick Clausen said. "It's tough for 17-year-old guys to do that. We've talked to them, coach Fulmer has talked to them, but ultimately it's unfortunate that the actions of three or four guys mess it up for 96 other guys that are doing the right thing - graduating, going to class, doing their community service. It's unfortunate they don't get in the newspaper, but everything negative gets in the newspaper."
CHANGING TIMES: Florida has enjoyed a relatively uneventful offseason compared to recent years. Senior Jarvis Herring said there has been a distinct change in attitude since the arrival of coach Urban Meyer and his staff.
"I'm proud (of the way the team has stayed out of legal trouble this past summer)," Herring said. "From what I've seen in the past it's like night and day, a big turnaround. Guys are afraid of the consequences now. Before, they didn't have so much respect for themselves, so they didn't really care."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm not much of a poker player, but if I was I've got all my chips on the table. I expect to win, that's the bottom line." - Florida senior center Mike Degory on this season's expectations.