Miller: Of Sellouts, Gold Coins and TV Wars

HN Publisher Jon Miller offers his thoughts on some of the latest goings on in Hawkeye Nation, the Big Ten and elsewhere in this commentary, and he also reminds you that we are just 52 days away from the start of Iowa's 2007 football season...

I don't know about you, but I am slightly surprised that the Iowa-Northern Illinois game sold out.  Maybe even more than just slightly surprised.


The Huskies averaged 20,771 fans per home game last year, a six game home season.  That's enough to keep them in the highest level of Division 1 football, but it's not a huge number.


Soldier Field seats roughly 61,000 fans for a football game these days, so if you take the Northern Illinois fanbase and their average attendance figure from above for going to games right in their backyard last year, and apply that to a 60 to 90 minute road trip to Soldier Field, that would leave 41,000 Iowa fans to snap up the rest of the tickets.


I realize that such math is not exactly scientific; the number of NIU fans at that game will probably be much less than 20,771.


So let's assume that 45,000 Iowa fans had to buy tickets to the game in order for it to reach sellout status.  Heck, the number might be closer to 50,000.


Now I realize that 50,000 Iowa fans went down to Miami for the Orange Bowl, and Chicago is much closer than that.  So that's why I am not saying that the fact this game reached sellout status has blown me away.


Still, 45,000 Iowa fans going to a football game that is some three and a half hours away from the friendly confines of Kinnick Stadium is a very impressive number.


I know hundreds of people from Des Moines that are making the trip.  I know of people that are flying into Chicago from Sioux City.  I know people that are flying up from Kansas City to make the trip.  Actually, for those folks, it might be cheaper flying to a game in Chicago than it is for them to drive to Iowa City, what with the price of gasoline and all.


No matter how you slice it, what we have is yet another testament to the Iowa Hawkeye fan base.  It brings a smile to my face envisioning Soldier Field awash in black and gold with 45,000 to 50,000 Iowa fans for this football game.


And I can tell you this; upon informing some of my friends of this fact, and those friends being die hard Bear fans that happen to root for the Illinois Fighting Illini, they are none to pleased.  They weren't happy when Steve Alford sang the 7th Inning stretch at Wrigley Field, either.  Just think how they are going to feel when Hawkeye Nation takes over the Windy City on September 1st.


Folks, that just 52 days away.  We are just 21 days away from the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago, and 27 days away from Iowa's football media day.  College football is nigh…


Speaking of excitement for college football, have you seen what our friends in Ames are doing to commemorate the 2007 season, the first year under new coach Gene Chizik?


A Des Moines area bank is minting a special gold coin that will feature the likeness of Chizik on the ‘heads' side of the coin, with their mascot/logo Cy on the ‘tails' side of the coin.


Now, before I allow the Cyclone Nation to use this as fodder in their, ‘See, Iowa fans are obsessed with Iowa State' posts, it's a part of my job.  As a sports radio talk show host in Des Moines, I am hired to talk about stuff like this.  So it's not you, it's me.


But am I the only person out there that had to stifle a chuckle at this concept?  I happen to like what I know of Gene Chizik thus far.  But wouldn't he have had to approve his likeness being used on a gold coin? 

If you want to see a picture of said coin, CLICK HERE I must say that if you threw a fedora on him, the coin would look like a young Paul ‘Bear' Bryant.


If Iowa had done something like this for say Todd Lickliter's first year, I would have the exact same reaction.


But to each their own I guess.  


By the way, when Iowa's captains walk out to meet the Cyclones at midfield on September 15th for the coin toss, guess what the refs are going to be flippin?  Yep. 


In Big Ten news, the conference is going on the offensive in its efforts to get the Big Ten Network (heretofore BTN) on as many Midwestern Cable Outlets as possible.


The league took out a full page ad in Monday's Des Moines Register in addition to sponsoring one of our afternoon sports updates on 1460 KXNO.


They also contacted me over the weekend and wondered if I would be interested in having Big Ten Commisioner Jim Delaney on my program.  I am certain that Delaney will be making several radio appearances throughout the region to talk about this subject.


While he was on my show, I asked him to talk about how the Big Ten feels it can charge $1.10 per subscriber when that is more than the NFL Network wanted.  He gave his side of the case (and I will podcast the entire interview later today).


Now, I have a weekly TV show on Mediacom, something I feel compelled to point out when I talk about this subject.  I said on my show that I could see Mediacom's side to this as well, as they have told the Big Ten that they would carry the network on their digital package, where people could elect to pay for the channel if they wanted it, and those that did not want it, did not have to pay for it.  Some folks have been called the Big Ten's demands for the channel to be on the expanded basic tier as a Big Ten tax.   There are a lot of sides to it.


Then there was a post on our subscriber message board that I found very interesting.  It's from the user Bud2830, and reads as follows:



At the end of your show today you made a comment about how you can see Mediacom's side of the story with wanting to put the Big Ten Network onto a digital sports tier because that way only fans who really want to watch the network have to pay for it.  This would make sense logically until you break it down.

The BTN wants $1.10 per subscriber for their network to be carried on expanded basic.  For Mediacom subs in Cedar Rapids that costs $51.95.  So if Mediacom were to carry the BTN on expanded basic, that is all one would have to pay (until Mediacom raises their rates).  And one would get to watch the channel on every TV in the house.

If Mediacom were to succeed and get the channel placed on a digital sports tier, one would have to order Mediacom's digit cable.  The cost: $51.95 for the family cable subscription, $6 per month for a digital receiver, $4 additional for Digital Cable (actually Mediacom's website says it's $9/month but my brother only has to pay $4 so I'm going off of that), plus $4 more for the Sports Pack.  So it would cost someone at least $14 a month extra to get the BTN and possibly $19.  Grand total: between $65.95 - $70.95 per month.  All for a channel that costs $1.10 for Mediacom.  No wonder Mediacom, and other cable companies, want to put this channel on a digital sports tier.  Oh and that only gives you the channel on ONE tv.

Hmmm…very interesting.

Bud, that's a solid post and a solid point.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to watch this unfold.  Personally, I don't see how Mediacom cannot give in to the BTN's demands.  If they don't, there will be a lot of Iowa Hawkeye fans switching over to DirectTV in the month of August.


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories