Larry Scott

Pac-12 Networks sign digital distribution deal

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You may remember that broad distribution of the Pac-12 Network is being held up by DirecTV, which has balked at assigning bandwidth to the upstart sports network. Only the Big Ten Network has managed to make a profit running its own network, and other BCS conferences – most notably the SEC – have turned to big-time partners like ESPN to ensure distribution.

Going it alone, the Pac-12 may do battle with DirecTV for a while yet. But they have added a major piece of the distribution puzzle this week, signing on with AT&T U-verse today. There was no standing on ceremony, either. The network went live on AT&T U-verse immediately, so more homes were able to tune in today’s football games.

From the official press release:

With the deal, Pac-12 Networks now is available on four of the top six distributors in the U.S., and more than 50 television providers overall. Existing partners continue to launch Pac-12 Networks in more markets around the country including Comcast in Chicago, Time Warner Cable in the Midwest, and Cox in New England and the Washington DC area, among others.

As always, football is driving the bus on this deal, but a couple of months from now, college hoops fans on the left coast will have more opportunities to see their favorite teams lace ’em up.

One of the most interesting aspects of the U-verse deal is the plan to make the Pac-12 Network available on mobile devices such as phones, tablets and PCs. Sneak-watching sports at work just gets easier every day.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.