Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Of Shopping, Streaming, and Scoring

So much going on around here, I almost didn't get the chance to SHOUT about it!

First, let me get the shameless plugs out of the way, because we're all fired up about having a NEW Big South Online Store up and running. This site really does have the most apparel and merchandise for the Conference and its members that you can find in one location anywhere, which explains the excitement.

Anybody can do shirts and hats, but we start there and keep on going: backpacks, jackets, decals, jerseys, pens, umbrellas, etc. All with the logo of your favorite school from the Big South, or the logo of the Conference itself, of course. Many thanks go out to our merchandising partners at for making the new Online Store possible.

Give it a look, do a little browsing, you'll probably find something you like!

Okay, so probably enough about the Big South Store already...let's move right along to the Big South Network and what's shaking for the fall...

Naturally we have the full array of live streaming events you've come to expect from the Big South Network: nearly 200 for the fall sports, with plenty of football, volleyball, and soccer (men's and women's) for everybody.

Beyond that, we'll still bring you the Royal Purple Round-Ups with host Matt Hogue, the weekly football teleconferences, and our guides to what's happening with the BSN.

But new this year, we'll have more specialty programming, with fresh video from our member schools: Big South Coach Camp, with short coaching interviews and insights, including tips from each week's coach on his/her sport...the Big South Super Seven, featuring "the best 7 plays from the last 7 days"--our very own weekly highlight show...and one we're really excited about (and one that's already started)--Big South "Flipped": On Campus.

We armed each of our schools with a Flip Camera and the instructions to find fresh happenings and learn new stories about the events on campus and around the athletic departments of their institutions. We want "Flipped" to take us inside our schools to see what's going on outside the field of play for our student-athletes and coaches. This is one show that could go in a million different directions, and we want to see where it takes us

Now let's get to the action...the fall season has begun, and although things seems to begin slowly, events will quickly accelerate to full speed.

Right now, women's soccer has most teams just a game or two into the young season, while at the same time, it's been exhibition play for men's soccer and volleyball. Those two sports join women's soccer and get into it for real within the next few days, and then football gets its turn in the spotlight, with PC in the first game for any Big South team this year (9/2 at WFU), and all the others kicking off with the first Saturday of play on 9/4.

If you look to the preseason polls for any guidance, here are the favorites going into the season:
Football -- Liberty
Volleyball -- Coastal Carolina
Men's Soccer -- High Point

Women's Soccer -- Liberty

Of course, those things have a way of changing, but that's where expectations are (according to coaches and media representatives, anyway).

Before I wrap up, a big SHOUT-out to former LU running back Samkon Gado for not only signing recently with the Titans, but then hitting the end zone twice on Monday Night Football for Tennessee in preseason play. Gado is one of about ten former Big South players in camps right now hoping to hang on through the cuts to make their respective NFL squads (familiar names like Thigpen, Teal, Simpson, Simpkins, and more). Good luck to you all!

It's "go" time now, so look for SHOUT to ramp back up for another big season ahead...and that's SHOUT--out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big Bid-ness

So Football Media Day is behind us, and the calendar page has turned to grab onto whatever glimmers of summer you have left, because we are on the stretch run to the fall sports blitz now.

There were plenty of discussion points from the sessions last week in Charlotte for all our football members and attending media representatives, but the number one topic was clear: THE BID.

In case you've been ignoring the football talk thus far, this is the big turning point year for the Big South as a football conference: the season that the Conference champion is assured of a position in the FCS Playoffs. The Big South doesn't even have ten years under its belt when it comes to play on the gridiron and does not yet have the championship pedigrees established by some of its neighbors, but now a seat at the table is reserved for the Big South Conference Football Champion, and that is indeed a big deal.

Coastal Carolina snared an at-large berth a few years ago. More recently, Liberty has seen a couple of well-deserving squads get snubbed when the invites went out. In all, it's not much on which to hang one's helmet, but a new game begins now.

The coaches and players had a variety of reactions to the new scenario, but all echoed one sentiment--this will be good for the Big South Conference. That is to say, not just good for this year's teams, but in perpetuity. The new FCS playoff format includes 20 teams (up from 16), and for the first time, it's guaranteed that at least one will be from the Big South. Yes, read that carefully, I said "at least one" may seem like a leap of faith, and that may likely be true for year one, but with more teams involved and one team locked, it actually creates greater possibilities of an additional qualified at-large team making the field (like the scenario last year with Liberty & Stony Brook). A whole new line of thought, right?

Among the interesting takes on the new dynamic...
GWU Coach Steve Patton suggested this was a "put up or shut up" time for the Conference, that after years of working to get this qualifier, the Big South needs to demonstrate its worthiness.

CCU Coach David Bennett said that rivals wouldn't be able to use the lack of a bid against Big South teams anymore, but added that getting a game is just a step--that hosting a game would be the next rung on that ladder.
CSU Coach Jay Mills believed that it wouldn't change week-to-week readiness or emphasis for teams, but that the automatic bid would have a lot of impact on the thinking and preparations in the off-season.

LU Coach Danny Rocco assured us that the goals of his team were no different than ever--that the Conference title is always their main target, but that the validation of the playoffs would make it that much sweeter if reached.

And still more from all the coaches and players can hear them share their thoughts on the automatic bid and the season ahead, the preseason poll and All-Conference team, last year's results, and other stories of life on and off the field, with our Media Day video coverage. Right now you'll find the Media Luncheon speeches from all the coaches at the Big South YouTube page, plus the Streaming Interview Room sessions from each team on the Big South Network (on the "Press Box" channel). The Preseason Preview videos with team capsules and All-Conference team selections can be found in both locations!

If you're still looking for more once you've finished going through all that, don't worry, we collected more great sound from all our visiting coaches and players: thoughts on role models, leadership, and more--and we'll be revealing more of those interviews as we approach the season and progress toward the 2010 FCS Playoffs. Should be a fun year...

Many thanks to everyone from our football schools for making the Media Day event a success--the coaches, the players, the athletics directors, the sports information staffs, and also a special nod of gratitude for the football-hungry fans who have been following all the Big South developments. Blow the whistle--let's go! And that's SHOUT...out...