The Times West Virginian

May 16, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU Tier 3 bidding goals are ambitious

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — They are re-opening the bidding at West Virginia University’s athletic department for Tier 3 media rights, but judging by the vision they have shown in putting it together, this is becoming something as ambitious, if not profitable, as the national television deals in which they have a stake.

You think of Tier 3 rights and what comes immediately to mind is radio, but if your mind is still back in the Amos ‘n Andy/Jack Benny days, this isn’t for you, for Tier 3 rights, as athletic director Oliver Luck and WVU view them, go from radio to television to facilities to throwing maybe the biggest party Morgantown as ever seen live on the air … with donations welcomed.

It will all come to be if they get a partner willing to pay the right amount – which most recently was $110 million for 12 years by IMG College before the deal was struck down as having been reached in, shall we say, some unconventional ways – and possessing the same view and vision WVU has to elevate women’s basketball’s and baseball’s public reach while renovating Mylan Puskar Stadium and painting some kind of advertising message on everything that doesn’t honor Jerry West, Rod Hundley or Sam Huff.

This very process alone goes against the laws of nature, for normally you get what you pay for, but, in this instance, WVU will be getting what it is paid for.

As the latest details of what WVU is looking for have become public, there has been any number of surprises, not the least of which is that at least six men’s basketball games will be made available to the winning bidder.

Considering the quality of the schedule Bob Huggins puts together, one need not worry that a six-pack of Robert Morris games will be the fare.

No siree. There will be some teams WVU can beat, too.

Six basketball games and one football game will be available to profit the new local rights holder, but that is just the beginning.

They also will be in charge of putting together a radio network – and wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall when whoever it is sits down to negotiate that deal with John Raese and his network?

In Luck’s perfect world, each game broadcast in all four sports would have pre- and post-game shows for coaches – and that includes baseball, if that sport can find time between bus rides and airports.

All the better, you know, to sell you next year’s season tickets, a replica Pat White jersey or that Mother’s Day arrangement of blue and gold marigolds at your locally licensed WVU florist or from the new official WVU flower shop that is sure to show up in the newly anointed WVU FTD Coliseum, or whoever gets the naming rights.

And as for those coach’s shows, certainly hope whoever gets the rights doesn’t come up with the stupid idea of replacing Jay Jacobs. Even Dan Patrick couldn’t fill those shoes.

Game casts, pre- and post-game shows, coaches’ shows – even if they expand to baseball and women’s basketball – are rather ordinary items on Tier 3 rights, but also included on Luck’s dream list is renovating Milan Puskar Stadium, which has been under continuous renovation.

These latest renovations, as well as some sure to come in the Coliseum, will add licensed seats and suites with all the amenities your life savings can purchase you to watch sporting events, even if you have to put your house up for sale.

Students will probably keep their seats, although they possibly could be moved to areas where they don’t disturb the genteel set of season ticket holders, and as for the media … well, the way things are going these days, they are going to wind up in the rafters of the end zones.

After all, the Kentucky Derby this year actually eliminated the press box. Why not the Coliseum and stadium?

As if all of this wasn’t enough, WVU is looking to provide you with everything from preseason and postseason specials, awards banquets and in 2014-15 a “University Gala Fundraising Event” on “third-party stations,” as if the $110 million garnered from these Tier 3 rights don’t satisfy the need for revenue.

And, just in case the word isn’t out enough, why not a “danaforkingoftheworld.com” advertisement or something in that vein printed on his headphones or the kicking net?

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter at bhertzel.