Picture this, football fans:
Two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Huskers are down by a score (it is the Huskers, after all). Nebraska has the ball on its own 37-yard line, and it’s fourth down and four.
The Huskers break the huddle and the quarterback (we’ll leave that speculating to Steven M. Sipple) lines up in the shotgun. He launches in to a hard count to draw the defense offsides and surveys their formation. With two seconds left on the play clocks, he calls a timeout, and the Huskers jog to the sideline to draw up a new play.
Well. that, metaphorically, is exactly what Husker athletic department did last week with its announcement of a long-term multimedia rights deal with JMI Sports after a year of handling it in-house.
In explaining the audible, Husker Athletic Director Trev Alberts praised the work done by the staff and said, “The decision to keep our multi-media rights in-house allowed for the opportunity to thoughtfully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of an internal program while multimedia rights companies reset themselves for a post-pandemic marketplace.”
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Alberts and his team determined that the agreement — reportedly for 12 years and $215 million — is the safest bet to maximize the revenue from the significant brand power of Husker athletics.
Learfield/IMG, handled media rights for more than a decade, before then-Athletic Director Bill Moos moved it in-house last year. And now there’s another change with a likely contract with JMI Sports. All that might seem disruptive, but the truth is that many of the same people have worked or will work with all three organizations. There’s more continuity and institutional knowledge than it might appear from the outset.
The Board of Regents will consider the contract at its April meeting. It should be approved.
The uncertainty of COVID and the changing landscape of top-level college athletics puts a premium on expertise, embracing trends hovering just beyond the horizon.
Nebraskans are deeply invested in what happens on the field and the court, but what happens in those North Stadium administrative offices helps determine what happens in competition. Turning this work over to someone with special and cutting-edge expertise lets the athletic department focus on other things.
And so now — again metaphorically — the Huskers take the field a little fresher and with a new play, ready to cap a drive with a score and win.