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Many state fans still without ACC Network

Florida Football Insiders

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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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Florida follows California’s lead on paying college athletes

Matt Zemek

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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California is blue. Florida is red. The two states now share the same outlook on college athletes gaining more green.

In late September, California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, signed Senate Bill 206, allowing college athletes to profit from sales of their name, image and likeness, and to retain scholarships even while signing endorsement deals with companies and earning added income.

The legislation does not allow schools to directly pay athletes, but it does enable athletes to venture into commercial activity, effective in 2023. The NCAA has a few years, then, to adjust to the current reality. So far, it has opposed SB 206.

Would another state – especially a high-profile one with a large recruiting pool – follow California’s lead? Florida, though led by a Republican governor, has done just that.

On Thursday, as reported by Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his support of legislation to enable college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

It is significant that a big recruiting-magnet state such as Florida joined California. It is also significant that a Republican governor expressed (rare) agreement with deep-blue California’s efforts, creating a bipartisan dimension to support for this particular policy.

DeSantis (above) said California is on “the right track” with its legislation. He said that if Florida’s legislature can pass this legislation, the NCAA might need “to reevaluate” its position on the matter.

“I’m confident those issues can be addressed in a way that will maintain college athletics as really special thing but also provide the ability for our student athletes to be able to benefit just like anybody else would be able to benefit,” DeSantis said.

The bipartisan nature of this effort in Florida was affirmed by the fact that Florida Representative Kionne McGhee, the state’s House Democratic minority leader, filed one of the bills DeSantis supports. Rep. McGhee appeared with DeSantis on Thursday in a public show of cross-party unity.

California is often seen as an example of what NOT to do by Republicans in particular and conservatives in general. Thursday’s news represents an exception to that reality.

It offers an interesting new plot twist in the way this larger set of issues is perceived in collegiate athletics.

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Former USF QB Quinton Flowers returns to Tampa in XFL

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Next February, the XFL Football League will reemerge in its reformed version by Vince McMahon. On Tuesday, the league’s eight teams were making preparation’s with a draft of players. And, this includes the Tampa Bay franchise, The Vipers, who in the 5th round, selected former USF Bulls quarterback, Quinton Flowers. 

Even though his previous seasons in Tampa have been spent under center, he has been selected as a running back for the Vipers.

 

We wrote previously, that a local high school and SEC star, Aaron Murray was given to them as their starting Quarterback.

Murray has ties to the Tampa Bay area, as a native who led Plant High School to a State Football Championship. He’s also the Southeastern Conference all-time leader in completions passing yards and passing touchdowns in a career.

Murray briefly was with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-16.

He was last seen quarterbacking earlier this year in the now-defunct Alliance of American football with the Atlanta Legends (above) franchise. They selected Murray for the same regional interest of him having played college ball down the road in Athens, Georgia.

As for Flowers, in his time at USF he threw for 8,124 yards, 71 TDs and 23 INTs while also rushing for 3672 yards and 41 TDs.

Though he had a record-breaking career at USF (he owned or shared 34 school records), there was lots of debate about the dual-threat’s quarterback to succeed professionally.  Flowers was dominant as a run-heavy QB, and he became #1 in the schools career rushing attempts, career rush yards, single season rush yards, rush yards and attempts by a quarterback, rushing touchdowns in a season, career rushing touchdowns, and yards per rush in a season.

Many scouts felt as though he needed to consider a position change from quarterback if he hopes to succeed in the NFL, which ended up happening when he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, as an undrafted free agent in 2018 as a running back. After being waived the following summer, the Colts signed him to the practice squad, but then released him six days later.

Now, in the second ever XFL Draft, Flowers went number 37 overall, is returning to not only the same city, but same stadium that he took four years of snaps in during college.

The XFL have continued to fill out rosters in the Tuesday draft, with numerous players from Florida or Florida schools working out regionally for all of the clubs.

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