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Former NFL WR Chad Johnson part of “Million Dollar” match race challenge

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Former NFL star receiver Chad Johnson (yes he’s no longer “Ochocinco”) is back doing what he does best besides touchdown dances: promoting himself and his own endeavors. And, Johnson’s latest one involves a million-dollar 40 yard dash challenge that will have current NFL players and be held in South Florida on Saturday night.

The former Bengals star, who also played with the Dolphins among other NFL stops, is hosting and co-promoting the event called “40 Yards of Gold.” The concept is head-to-head 40-yard dash races between 16 individuals with the ultimate winner receiving $1 million.

Johnson will not be participating himself, however, he helped recruit numerous current NFL stars to be part of this track experiment that will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Current NFL players like Saints running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Ted Ginn will be joined by 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin, Redskins Corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Panthers corner Donte Jackson and Jets receiver Robby Anderson.

The 16 runners are in two eight man brackets and will race side by side, “NFL 40-yard dash combine style” until the field is paired down to two final runners racing for the $1 million.

Johnson told the Fort Lauderdale sun-sentinel that he was all too happy to join in on the promotion and involvement with the event:

“The opportunity came to me. It presented itself. So I jumped on board right away. This is something that I’ve been doing – what – my entire life since I was 4 years old? Running. At some point in life, it became competitive.”

Again, it’s important to point out, Johnson won’t be doing any of the running himself.

As for the other particulars, it’s unclear on the “40 yards of Gold” website, as to whether or not runners who make the semi-finals (for example) or whoever places second in the event, will receive anything financially?

Further, the event is being offered on pay-per-view, but it’s hard to believe that a lot of the buying public on a Saturday night will pay $39.95 for a series of 40 yard dash match races. Good luck getting actual numbers on that.

Tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster with the best seats in the lower level going for $400 face value. There are tickets for as little as $20 in the upper levels of the arena where the Florida Panthers play NHL hockey.

A source in South Florida media told us that while the event is being promoted heavily on radio and through digital billboards, Etc., it’s not believed that more than a couple of thousand people will be in attendance Saturday night.

That is unless, Johnson and the other promoters have given away significant tickets in recent days to” pad the attendance” and look better for the pay-per-view television broadcast.

Interestingly for Ginn, he publicly threw out a $10,000 hundred yard dash race challenge back in May and had a Texas high school state 100m champion track star, Matthew Boling, publicly accept his challenge.

However, there is no word as to whether Ginn, a former Fins first round pick- who’s looking to win the $1 million Saturday, ever actually followed through, “put his money where his mouth is” and accepted that challenge.

Boling of Houston is not involved in the Saturday match race tournament on PPV. He is slated to go to the University of Georgia on a track scholarship, and it’s unclear as to how a match race with Ginn, or if he tried to participate in this event in South Florida, would affect his eligibility.

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Many state fans still without ACC Network

ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched the 24-hour ACC television network in the middle of last month. But for all of the fanfare and build up, there are still hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state of Florida who are without the channel headed into the first weekend of September.

And now, that’s about to be problematic with a scheduled Saturday triple-header of games that will involve FSU, the Miami Hurricanes and the USF Bull’s all being televised, exclusively on the channel.

Now, the ACC and ESPN announced Thursday night a deal with Cox Communications, which serves a good portion of the state and will obviously make their customers happy:

The ACC, led by Commissioner John Swofford (above),  also previously announced a deal with Spectrum Communications to carry the ACC Network. That is a significant amount of coverage in Florida.

And, the ACCN is also available through satellite services like DirecTV and Dish. Plus, it’s available on streaming services like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for individual fees.

However, while the ACC and ESPN continue to update new deals being done with providers, customers with Comcast / Xfinity, Frontier Communications and AT&T U-verse are still waiting for the channel. And, those outlets represent hundreds of thousands of college football fans in the combined markets of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Fans in those markets with those providers already missed last Thursday night’s opener with #1 Clemson and Georgia Tech, were without last Saturday’s ACCN games, and more importantly, possibly won’t to see their favorite school on the triple header Saturday.

That starts with USF at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., followed by Florida State hosting Louisiana-Monroe and capped Saturday night by Miami’s opening conference game at North Carolina.

All to be shown exclusively, on the ACCN.

The crux of the problem is the amount of money that ESPN is looking to recoup from each individual customer of the provider. It is the same model that they have followed previously with the SEC Network and with their biggest channels like ESPN and ESPN2.

ESPN and the SEC had much more leverage five years ago at the launch of that television network with a much more rabid following. The SEC Network was picked up by every major provider in the state of Florida before games were ever played in the 2014 season.

Again, ESPN and the conference are negotiating non-stop and may very well get deals with the above major providers that are still holding out. But, it’s entirely possible that when the Noles, the Canes and the Bulls hit the field Saturday many of their fans in the state will not be able to see it, on TV, an app, nothing.

You’ve been warned.

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AAC Commissioner Aresco says they’ll do away with divisions

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There has been speculation as to whether the American Athletic Conference would try to land a 12-team and continue to play with two divisions with a Championship game? On Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Mike Aresco made clear that the 12-team conference isn’t necessary and divisions will be going away.

Appearing on Memphis sports adio station 92.9 FM ESPN, Aresco told their afternoon show that the conference that is home to USF and UCF will no longer split into two six team divisions after 2019:

This decision is necessitated by the departure of the UConn Huskies from the American back to their previous conference, the Big East starting next fall. That is leaving the American with an odd number (11) of teams after this year.

We wrote previously about what the possible scenarios would be for the American to keep its important Conference Championship game, which the UCF Knights have hosted and won the last two years over the Memphis Tigers.

The American has two very real concerns at the forefront on 12 members and keeping the title game:

First, ESPN could alter the newly announced 12 year deal that is supposed to represent at least $7 million in revenue per school annually. That deal has a clause that says, if the AAC loses a member(s), then the rights fee can be decreased by the network.

Further, the NCAA has mandated that in order for the conference to play a championship game, which the American has had for the last four years, it must have 12 schools or play an equal round robin schedule.

Obviously, the AAC cannot equally play a round-robin schedule with 11 teams with only nine conference games and that’s where Aresco is describing applying for a waiver, if they do not play in divisions.

If the conference reverses course and chooses to expand, there is a logical 12th member.

It seems a simple solution would be to invite UAB, which brought back FBS football two years ago and won the Conference USA Championship game and its bowl game in 2018. The Blazers also have a solid men’s basketball program, as well.

Plus, Birmingham is a significant television market and is in the Southeast footprint with other programs like Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, and the Bulls and the Knights. All of those American programs have also been previously in Conference USA with the Blazers.

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