Campus Clips: ESPNU Expands National Signing Day Coverage; Smaller Conferences Crafting Football Playoff Revenue Sharing Plan

Compiled by Brandon Costa, Senior Editor, Sports Video Group

ESPN is set for what it is calling its “most comprehensive National Signing Day coverage to date.” On Feb. 6, ESPNU will take the stage with the 10-hour ESPNU National Signing Day Special beginning at 9 a.m. ET on ESPNU. Across ESPN’s other platforms, there will be live look-ins from SportsCenter throughout the day, and accompanying reporting on ESPN’s RecruitingNation.com. The special will also be available on WatchESPN and ESPN3, in addition to being simulcast on ESPN from 3:30-4 p.m.

ESPNU’s eighth annual special will include at least 17 of the nation’s leading recruits revealing their college decision live. ESPNU will be embedded with 13 programs all day interviewing coaches, and providing up-to-the-minute news on each team’s freshman class as the commitments are faxed in. ESPN’s RecruitingNation.com will also have reporters at high school announcements and in-depth analysis on its 14 team dedicated nation sites.

Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah will again host the network’s all-day studio coverage from Charlotte, N.C. They will be joined by ESPN’s national recruiting director Tom Luginbill and recruiting analyst Craig Haubert, along with college football analysts Mike Bellotti and Rod Gilmore, plus special guest analysts Gene Chizik, former Auburn head coach, and Derek Dooley, former Tennessee head coach…

… According to CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler, the “group of five” conferences are working to finalize a three-tier playoff revenue distribution system that rewards the conference with the best team and the conference with the best overall performance, CBSSports.com has learned. In this proposed system, more than half the group’s roughly $86-million playoff pot would be distributed among the Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt as guaranteed base shares, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. The source expects those shares to be evenly split, but added discussions are ongoing.

The second tier pays out based on a conference’s body of work — the top conference gets the highest amount, then “X” amount for the next-rated conference, and on down.

The third tier pays a kicker to the conference with the highest-ranked team, which is guaranteed an access bowl bid or, if among the top-four teams in the country, a semifinal berth in the playoff…

…The Mountain West Conference showed off its new 12-team football alignment that starts next fall. The new breakdown will pit Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming in the Mountain Division while Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV will land in the West Division. Each team will play five divisional games and three cross-divisional contests each year. The conference also confirmed its plans for the inaugural Mountain West Football Championship game which will be played on Dec. 7 at the home stadium of the team with the highest BCS ranking…

… Earlier this week, Conference USA announced the official inclusion of Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee. Just a day later, C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky addressed reporters upon the conclusion of the 2013 Conference USA Winter Meetings at the South Beach Marriott. Banowsky offered an update of the conference’s latest moves and expressed excitement over the new structure. According to a C-USA spokesperson, all current and future athletic directors of C-USA member programs attended the two-day meetings, with the exception of Tulsa interim director of athletics, Kevan Buck. Tulsa has widely been reported as a potential Big East or Mountain West target…

… Buffalo Wild Wings has reached a sponsorship deal with the NCAA to be the “official hangout” of the March Madness men’s basketball tournament. The agreement announced Tuesday also includes various rights for all 89 NCAA championships through 2016. The Minneapolis-based restaurant chain recently had its first major sports sponsorship, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Michigan State beat TCU 17-16 at Dec. 29 game in Tempe, Ariz. The NCAA sponsorship was sold through CBS Sports and Turner Sports. It includes media rights that will increase Buffalo Wild Wings’ game-day broadcast presence over the next four years…

… ACS Athletics, a provider of integrated web and mobile solutions in collegiate athletics departments, announced a series of new product solutions, highlighted by the release of a mobile applications suite for its InControl software. The product launch was announced during a customer event that coincided with the 2013 NCAA Convention at the Gaylord Texan Resort.