AD David Benedict & HC Randy Edsall Discuss the TV Deal w/CBS Sports Network

AD DAVID BENEDICT (OPENING STATEMENT): “Today is certainly another significant step forward in the independent football model for UConn and our athletics program. Certainly want to thank Dan Weinberg and CBS Sports for their faith and commitment to us, I think partnering with UConn and our football program, we knew from the outset that both our schedule and partnering with someone from a TV standpoint would be significant in our ability to successful in this endeavor. So today, I’m very please, very excited and couldn’t be happier about this announcement. This, coupled with the schedule that we’ve put together is going to put us in a terrific situation moving forward and provides Coach Edsall a foundation and something to be able to communicate to both our current team and future prospects.”

HC RANDY EDSALL (OPENING STATEMENT): “I’d like to thank David for all his hard work that he’s put in to get us in this situation because this is something that is unprecedented in terms of what we did and where we are going to go. To be able to put yourself in this situation to have this kind of agreement with CBS Sports Network to have our games televised nationally on linear TV is big from a recruiting standpoint and something that will aid us as we head into independence in football. Having been involved with being an independent previously, I think there’s a couple of things that have to happen for your program to be able to obtain success and one component is the TV package, which now we have and is going to be better for us, most definitely, than where we were before. But then it’s the scheduling. When you take a look at the scheduling that we’ve been able to do over the next five years, it’s a schedule that will put us at least in position to go out and be able to recruit the student athletes that we are going to need in order to be able to compete against that schedule. It puts us in a region up and down the east coast and then going into a couple other places to spot recruit kids, which is going to aid us tremendously. Having this exposure now, where you’re on TV pretty much between 12-3:30PM, having some game times ahead of the season and with the schedule we are putting together, it will be very advantageous for our fanbase to be able to watch us play even when we are playing on the road against the Big Ten, the ACC, the SEC, Army, BYU, things along those lines. All in all, it’s a really good day for us and one that came at the right time as we are in the middle of recruiting kids for the 2021 cycle, so very, very excited about this announcement and what we’ve been able to do from a scheduling standpoint. What we were able to scheduling-wise, I think helped David be able to secure this deal with CBS Sports Network.”

BENEDICT ON BEING AN INDEPENDENT AND FILLING OUT A SCHEDULE: “I think the biggest opportunity of being an independent was the fact that we have flexibility. It’s the fact that we have 12-games that we can work with as opposed to four. When you have that, one of the things that was clear is there are a lot of individual schools around the country that have a particularly challenge or need with their scheduling and everyone has different philosophies, but we could identify those situations and provide flexibility enough to basically get things done, which helps us, as well as helps them. I don’t want to say that being an independent is like being a fixer for certain schools, but it does provide a lot of flexibility to schedule games that other programs that are involved in conferences just can’t schedule because they don’t have that flexibility.”

EDSALL ON SCHEDULING AS AN INDEPENDENT: “This goes back to last June, David and I had talked, I still have the email here, June 28th, he asked me who do you want to play, what do you think is good for our program and I put a list of schools together knowing we were going to partake in football independence, it was intelligent for us to at least give David parameters because of recruiting to try and build a program from an independent standpoint. Giving him a list of conferences and the teams within those conferences, what would be most beneficial to us would be a big difference. We were able to really stick to those guidelines and be able to craft schedules that will aid us from a recruiting standpoint because that’s really what it’s all about, recruiting and having the kids’ families being able to see them and then going places where they can get to. That’s the thing that gave us that flexibility. Having been down that road once before as a head coach in this process, used a lot of that knowledge from what we did before to what we’re doing now.”

EDSALL ON RESPONSE FROM RECRUITS ON SCHEDULE AND TV DEAL: “There’s no question. Myself and our coaching staff we sat down quite a bit on what would be our message and how we would market what we’re doing. By telling them, we felt good about the TV package, but then when you tell them about the scheudle that we will be playing, we are going to play more Power-5 teams now, than what we were if we stayed where we were previously, that made a big impact with the kids that we’re talking to. That helped us tremendously. We’ve seen a tremendous interest from the standpoint that we’re going to be playing teams from all the Power-5 conferences has made a big difference in the recruiting so far. Do we have a challenge in front of us? Yes, being an independent is a challenge, but we have the ability to go out and sell things that gives us the opportunity to win with the type of schedule we are putting together.”

EDSALL ON PLAYING EARLY ON SATURDAY’S AND GETTING GAMETIMES SET AHEAD OF TIME: “I really think that’s important for our fanbase so they can plan. With no more 12-day window, now you can set your Fall schedule in terms of what you want to do and be guaranteed of that. That was something that David and I talked about when he was going through conversations on the deal, that was a request that we could play in those windows. Now, if we are playing really well and there’s a prime-time game at 7:30 and we have to do that, that’s not an issue. I just think that it’s important that you have that window and where we are, it’s more conducive for us to be playing at that time and if you can have that scheduled ahead of time, I think it’s an advantage for us.”

BENEDICT ON THE CHALLENGE OF DEALING WITH THE BIG EAST MOVE, SCHEUDLING AND THE FOOTBALL TV DEAL: “We deal with challenges all the time. We are all dealing with a significant challenge right now. We knew leading into the decision to move back to the Big East that this would be an incredible challenge. I said this a number of times, I was vocal when we made the announcement, I really believe in the brand of UConn and that’s been built over a long period of time. This deal today that we are announcing, as well as the schedule that we’ve put together is all made possible by the incredible brand of our university. There’s a lot of people that were involved, this is a two-way street, I couldn’t force anyone to partner with us, so we appreciate CBS and the other people we had conversations with, but it came together, I’m excited about it and I look forward to moving onto the next challenge.”

EDSALL ON BEING AWAY FROM HIS PLAYERS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS: “You miss the daily interaction with them that we don’t see them. We’ve been doing WebEx’s as a team and also the coaches have been doing some Zoom with them, it’s tough, but we can only worry about what we can control. We can see each other with FaceTime, but we trust them to be doing what they are supposed to be doing; taking care of their academics, which just finished on Friday, doing the workouts that we are sending them, some guys in certain areas can go out and do things, others don’t. You’d like to be around them, but it’s good that they have their space too.”

BENEDICT ON COMPARING THE OLD AAC DEAL TO THIS FOOTBALL DEAL AND WHAT THE FOX SPORTS DEAL WITH THE BIG EAST WILL BRING IN: “I’m not going to get into specific numbers, but I’ll communicate some different factors that you need to take into consideration. The first piece which has a major impact and more an expense saving piece, by moving the majority of sports to the Big East, you are saving a significant amount of money relative to the cost of travel. We’ve estimated that to be about $2M and we’ll see how that plays out. The next piece is because of the way we chose to schedule, this is obviously through conversations with Coach, we are going to play one guarantee game a year. Typically we have not played those games, but we felt like it was appropriate and also gives opportunity for us to go play at very historic places on the biggest stage in the country, so that in itself is anywhere from a $1.2-1.9M proposition, so on average another $1.5M. When you factor just those two things in, in addition to being compensated for a TV deal and then future revenues from the Big East Conference, I think we are going to be in pretty good shape.”

BENEDICT ON BEING ON LINEAR TV VS STREAMING: “We live in an age of changing technology, I’m certainly not going to suggest that one form of consumption is better than another, but being in a position to partner with CBS and CBS Sports Network, we are going to be distributed pretty much everywhere you can possibly go. We will be distributed digitally and on linear, it’s national distribution, it’s readily available, there’s no additional sign-ups needed. If you have a package that includes CBS, the big channel, then you are going to have CBS Sports Network. So pretty much anywhere you get content, you are most likely going to have access to CBS Sports Network. That’s exciting and there’s no doubt as Coach has mentioned, there’s cache that we are going to be broadcast nationally on a linear network. That still means a lot to the prospective student athletes that we are recruiting, as well as their families because they know they’ll have easy access to be able to watch them. It’s very significant.”

BENEDICT ON HOW THE DEAL WITH CBS WENT DOWN: “As I mentioned, we obviously want to thank the folks at SNY because all along they’ve been there for us as a backstop and certainly we are going to continue to be partenred with them in various ways, but at some point in time over the past year, the CBS Network and Dan Weinberg reached out to me. They had some initial interest in something that looked a lot different than what we ended up at. As coach mentioned, I think those initial conversations that we had and how we laid out the type of schedule that we were putting together, both in games that we have already contracted, but were also in the process of contracting made a significant difference in their opinion as to their interest level in doing something long-term with us. It’s coming together, obviously the last couple of months has made it a little more challenging relative to that, but we are at a place where we know where we are going to be long-term.”

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE OTHER 3-GAMES IN 2020 THAT ARE NOT A PART OF THE CBS DEAL?: “Those are committed, they will be announced, but we are just trying to finish the contract process.”

EDSALL ON THE TIMEFRAME TO GET PLAYERS READY FOR THE 2020 SEASON: “We talk about that every Monday as a staff, we have extended meetings. We talked about that today. Matt King is my point person on that, he’s the expert. For us, with Matt’s recommendation, we would have to have our kids back on campus, training, by July 1st if we are going to be playing [if the season starts on time]. That would give us four weeks of trianing and then four weeks of practice, so that’s our timeframe, it’s what Matt feels is best for the student-athlete to prepare for the season.”

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5 months ago
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