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MSU, league excited about launch of SEC Network


Brandon Walker



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State safety Kivon Coman has no problem blocking out all distractions when he's on the practice field. 


But Coman admits a recent visit from the new SEC Network was hard to ignore. 


"It's very exciting, having those guys at practice," said Coman, a sophomore from Sheffield, Alabama. "I have my own goals at practice, so I can block everything out, but this new network is going to be great. To know my family and friends will be able to watch as many games as they will, to know they'll be able to watch practice, it's pretty special." 


The SEC Network, which will launch Thursday, sent a camera crew and correspondents to MSU's campus Thursday and Friday to compile stock footage, to film player interviews, and to film Bulldog profiles that will air this season. 


On Thursday, the network will broadcast live from all 14 conference schools, and that live feed will coincide with a late afternoon practice at MSU. A broadcast also is planned from MSU's workout.  


It's part of a conference-wide plan to launch the network, and the anticipation of the new venture doesn't solely belong to MSU players. 


"It will be neat for the people who are watching the network and that launch show to see who is out there practicing and how hard they work," Mississippi State Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said. "They're going to jump around to 14 campuses, and it just so happens we're going to be practicing. I think it will be compelling programming. I think it is a great example of the content the network is going to have. They are going to show a little bit of everything, which is going to allow all 14 schools and campuses to be seen in a great light, and it is going to give us a chance to sell our universities." 


The SEC Network will be available to more than 90 million homes at its launch, as nine of the top 10 cable or satellite providers in the country have signed on. That number makes the SEC Network one of the most successful sports channels at launch, topping the NFL Network and MLB Network and outpacing all other collegiate networks (the Pacific-12 Conference Network, the Big Ten Network, and the Longhorn Network) combined. 


Those initial launch numbers, plus expectations for growth, likely mean a financial windfall for SEC schools. The Wall Street Journal projects each school to land upwards of $28 million from the SEC Network's first year. 


As far as programming, the SEC and ESPN haven't released the full schedule for day one, which begins at 5 p.m. Thursday. But SEC Associate Commissioner for Communications Herb Vincent said, "The first day will feature whiparound coverage from all 14 schools." 


Some programming has been announced, including 75 conference football games this season. For MSU, that starts Aug. 30 with its season opener against Southern Mississippi on the SEC Network. 


The first SEC football game on the SEC Network will feature Texas A&M at South Carolina at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, followed by Temple at Vanderbilt at 8:15 p.m. LSU, which opens the season against Wisconsin in Houston on ESPN at 8 p.m. Aug. 30, debuts on the SEC Network against Sam Houston State on Sept. 6 in Tiger Stadium. All 14 teams will have played on the SEC Network at least once through the first four weeks of the season in addition to other league games on CBS or ESPN. 


Like his teammate, MSU linebacker Beniquez Brown, a sophomore from Florence, Alabama, can hardly hide his excitement about the new network. He welcomes the opportunity for a MSU practice to be broadcast live to the rest of the country. 


"We're excited," Brown said. "We have the opportunity to let everyone see how determined we are to become one of the elite teams in the league. Hopefully they'll get to see how hard we are willing to work." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat



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