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Welcome to the Pac-12 Networks Blog. Out here on the West Coast, we have a culture of starting new things, and we’re about to embark on one of the most exciting new launches in media history.

Coming in August, get ready for the Pac-12 Networks, a division of Pac-12 Enterprises, the new content and multiplatform media company for the Pac-12 Conference, a leader in collegiate athletics that includes 12 of the most prestigious universities in the world. With a nation-leading 448 NCAA titles across 27 sports (as of today), the Pac-12 has earned its preeminent position as the “Conference of Champions.”

Please allow us a bit more marketing speak: The Pac-12 Networks is a full-time linear network available to cable, satellite and telephone companies, dedicated solely to the Pac-12. It will consist of a national network and six regional feeds that will provide 24/7 access to Pac-12 teams and universities. The networks will televise more than 800 live sporting events annually and will showcase 12 Conference Championship events each year, representing 13 sports. The Pac-12 Digital group encompasses the digital network, mobile, the university websites, social media and innovative digital initiatives across the company.

We are excited and excited to share stories, news and behind-the-scenes glimpses of our ongoing story on the Pac-12 Networks Blog.

Q&A with University of Utah Gymnastics Coach Greg Marsden

Greg Marsden, head coach extraordinaire of Utah woman’s gymnastics team,’ visited the Pac-12 Network Studio in San Francisco Thursday alongside his fellow conference gymnastics head coaches for the second day of coaches meetings being hosted at the conferences’ new media headquarters.

Marsden is one of the most successful coaches in the history of collegiate gymnastics. He has won a record tying 10 national championships, amassed 950 victories and coached 317 All-Americans. Under the reign of Marsden, the ‘Red Rocks’ have successfully acquired more top-five (27), top-three (22) and top-two (18) NCAA gymnastics finishes than any other school.

These titles come on-top of successful advances to the NCAA Championship. The Utes have made it to the Super Six 17 times in the history of the team.

Beyond the wins, Marsden has seen the gymnastics program grow into one of the highest attended collegiate sporting events in the nation, supported by an average of 11,200 fans at home meets each season.

We caught up with Marsden to discuss the upcoming season, coaching alongside his wife Megan and his thoughts on what the Pac-12 Networks brings to University of Utah gymnastics.

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2012-2013 season of gymnastics?

Marsden: “We have such a young enthusiastic group of athletes and they really love what they are doing. They have come in everyday and worked hard. They want to be there, they want to get better, and we are going to need that. They are going to need to get better. There are some people who were role players last year that are going to have to step up and play much bigger roles this year. But I am confident that in time they are ready to do that.”

Q: Who do you view as your biggest competition this season and why?

Marsden: “Always UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon State. Those along with [us] right now are the big four. Arizona is coming fast; Washington is getting much better; ASU is working hard to get back to what they once were. Cal has two new enthusiastic coaches that I know from their recruiting that they are doing right now, they are coming back in a big way. Right now I really think we are one of the best conferences in the country and in the next few years the strength of our conference is even going to be better because I think that there are four programs that are really moving forward and getting better and better each year.

Q: What is it like working and coaching with your wife, Megan Marsden? What are the secrets to your success?

Marsden: “It’s wonderful. It’s the only thing we have ever known. We met through gymnastics, we have worked together our entire careers, and we have a great relationship in the gym and obviously out of the gym. It’s just who we are, what we do, and what we love. People are always surprised because we hardly ever talk about gymnastics at home. If you walk into our home you would not know we are gymnastics coaches. There is no memorabilia on the walls, nothing that would lead you to believe that. I think we have always done a great job of separating our lives between our professional lives and our personal lives.”

Q: What do you think of the new Pac-12 Networks Headquarters here in San Francisco?

Marsden: “I was expecting to be impressed, but I am blown away. This is an unbelievable facility and it’s even more unbelievable that it’s put together in the time frame that they have had. This is absolutely spectacular.”

Q: What does the launch of Pac-12 Networks mean to you, your team, and your university?

Marsden: “Exposure. It means exposure. We recruit from all over the country and even all over the world. It’s very important to us that we have always been able to provide the families, former coaches, and friends of our student athletes the opportunity to stay involved with their careers, even if they are all the way across the country or all the way across the world. The Pac-12 Networks is going to do that for us in spades.”

Q: What expectations and hopes do you have for the Pac-12 Networks?

Marsden: “My expectation is that it’s going to grow and become the standard, an example of what everyone else and every other conference would like to have.”

Pac-12 Baseball, Softball Lead Off First Coaches Meetings Hosted at Pac-12 Enterprises HQs in San Francisco

With the fall athletic season just getting underway, the coaches at the helm of the conferences’ baseball and softball programs gathered at the Pac-12 Studios in San Francisco for their annual meetings Wednesday afternoon.

The baseball and softball programs are the first of the conference’s sport programs to have their annual meetings hosted at Pac-12 Studios, giving them the opportunity to check out the conference’s new media headquarters in the heart of San Francisco.

Pac-12 baseball coaches take a tour of the Pac-12 Network studios.

With 80,000 square feet on two floors, the conference’s studio space offers ample meeting space, while also providing the coaching staffs the opportunity to get a first hand glimpse of the operations that will bring additional exposure to their 2013 seasons.

The day began early as both sport programs met with conference officials, including Commissioner Larry Scott to discuss a variety of topics from officiating to scheduling. With the addition of the Pac-12 Networks, the coaches were also introduced to the work of several departments and staff members at the Enterprise offices

The visit to the studios for Cal head softball coach Diane Ninemire also gave her the opportunity to check out the new workspace of former Cal All-American utility, Valerie Arioto who is an intern within the Networks’ marketing and promotions department.

“Val is just an outstanding person,” said Ninemire. “She was a great student-athlete for us here at the University of California and for her to stay in the athletic world with an internship here at Pac-12 Networks goes to show the opportunities the Networks open for Pac-12 students to further their education with valuable experience at an organization they clearly have a passion for.”

For Andy Lopez, head coach of the NCAA Champion Arizona Wildcats baseball team with longtime ties to the conference, the birth of Pac-12 Networks is dream come true.

“This is exactly what I always thought it would be,” said Lopez. “Coming here now and being able to take a tour of the facility to see what Commissioner Scott has done and all that’s going on with the Pac-12 Networks is a little bit of a hidden dream for me. Being an L.A. kid and going to UCLA, playing baseball for the Bruins – I grew up as part of the Pac, so seeing this is a thrill. This is first class. This is exactly what you’d expect a big time athletic network to be.”

With the birth of a television network also comes the responsibilities of providing on-air and online video content, which the baseball and softball coaches also experienced first hand today. Each coach taped on-air promotional spots for marketing and online interviews with the Pac-12 digital team. While their comfort level in front of the cameras may vary, each coach took their turn in stride.

“It’s been fun to watch the football coaches do it,” said Utah head baseball coach Bill Kinneberg. “I had an idea that it may be coming [for us]. I was a little bit scared about it, but it’ll be fun to see. I know my kids will get a kick out of it.”

On Thursday, the contingent of Pac-12’s women’s gymnastics coaches will be on hand for their meeting and first look at Enterprises headquarters, followed by Pac-12 wrestling coaches on Friday.

Counting down

Less than an hour to go before launch now and the Pac-12 Enterprises headquarters and studios are bustling with activity right now. Much of the networks’ on-air talent are here, along with dignitaries, media and invited guests. Different divisions of the enterprises are taking ceremonial photos in front of the Pac-12 Networks set.

Much more to come throughout the evening. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.!

 

Fall schedule jam-packed

We are on the cusp of the networks launch, and once it does, the fall lineup will be crammed with terrific and diverse programming. It all starts Wednesday at 6 p.m. with “Pac-12 Live,” a one-hour program that will welcome viewers to the networks. In the weeks to come this fall, in addition to the onslaught of live broadcasts of football, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, men’s water polo and the Pac-12 cross country championships, there will be an array of original programming produced at the networks’ studios in San Francisco.

That will begin immediately after “Pac-12 Live” on Wednesday with “Pac-12 Conference Outlook,” a 60-minute preview show of the upcoming football season. In the days that follow, there will also 30-minute specials on each of the 12 teams in the conference.

On Thursday, the networks will begin its look at the different fall sports other than football. There will be a 30-minute preview of the women’s volleyball season, followed by shows about the other fall Olympic sports over the next week.

More highlights from the fall season:

  • “Pac-12 Football Encore”: Replays of the two best football games each week.
  • “Conference of Champions”: A monthly show featuring off-the-field accomplishments by students, coaches and faculty.
  • “Pac-12 Classics”: Re-broadcasts of some of the most memorable games in conference history, augmented with updated interviews from the folks involved.
  • “Pac-12 Football Pregame Show”: One hour before the first game of the day on the networks, it’s hosted by Mike Yam and Ashley Adamson. Get used to both of these co-hosts. They will be spending a lot of time in your living room.
  • “Pac-12 Football Postgame Report”: Immediately follows the last game of the day on the networks.
  • “Pac-12 Football Rewind”: Every Sunday night at 9 p.m., the networks provide a thorough recap of the weekend’s action.
  • “Football in 60″: Throughout the week, the previous week’s games will be condensed into 60 minutes for those who missed their favorite teams and want a recap in an hour.
  • “Pac-12 Playbook”: Every Tuesday, after each of the conference’s coaches have held their weekly press conferences and dissected what happened the week before, the networks will review the action through the words of the coaches.

For even more on fall programming, click here.

Home stretch

In a matter of hours, history will be made when the Pac-12 Networks launch at 6 p.m. on Wednesday with an edition of “Pac-12 Live.” There will be plenty more on fall programming in the next couple of days as we get ready to delve into a new era of college sports on television.

In the meantime, the staff at Pac-12 Enterprises has been busy readying for the launch. On-air talent has been coming in to the studios in downtown San Francisco for testing and rehearsals. Original shows have been rehearsed and taped. Countless hours of video has been reviewed and edited for various promos and other content.

The control room has been buzzing with producers, directors and other production staff putting things together for launch. Last week, sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam and analyst Ryan Nece taped a handful of football preview shows while producer Jim Hornby and other vital behind-the-scenes folks ran the show from the control room.

The networks have been busy with tapings such as these — the Pac-12 Footbal Preview show featuring Colorado.

In one of the numerous editing suites at the networks’ facilties, director of production Devin Pense and manager of promotions Ted Ishler were busy at work producing one of the approximately 324 promos needed for launch.

Manager of promotions Ted Ishler, foreground, and director of production Devin Pense work at editing a promo that will be ready for the launch of the networks.

“Pac-12 Live” is one of a handful of original shows the networks will produce during the fall season, in addition to the plethora of live events scheduled to be aired. In the days immediately after the launch, the networks will feature season previews on all 12 football teams in the conference, as well as preview shows on all the other fall sports.

The networks’ first live event is Friday at 7 p.m., with Santa Clara playing Stanford in women’s soccer. The first football game on the networks is Thursday, Aug. 30 with Utah hosting Northern Colorado. That will be the first game of a double header, with Northern Arizona taking on Arizona State immediately afterward.

Calabro happy for fans

Kevin Calabro is not just a sports broadcaster. He is also a fan.

And for a guy who has spent much of his adult life in the Pacific Northwest, he can’t wait for the launch of the Pac-12 Networks.

Calabro was hired last week as one of the play-by-play voices for the upcoming football season. He’s excited to be doing the games, but just as thrilled that what the networks will provide.

“As a fan living in Seattle, there were a number of times last year that frankly I couldn’t see the (Washington) Huskies and (Washington State) Cougars play,” Calabro said. “I think I speak for all Pac-12 fans that I can’t wait to see my team play every Saturday. And not just football, but for basketball and a number of Olympic sports as well — it’s certaily unique to sports fans on the West Coast.”

Calabro is well-known for his work as an NBA announcer — he was the voice of the Seattle SuperSonics for 21 seasons before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City. He also has done numerous games on a national level on both radio and television. But Calabro also has extensive college experience. He logged stints as the football and basketball voice for both Purdue and Missouri and has done several Washington football and basketball games for TV in recent years.

“Rather than complain, they’re doing something about it,”Calabro said about the networks and the conference’s response to underexposure nationally. “It’s a real innovative approach. Obviously, the revenue they will realize will be second to none, but they’ve also created a vehicle to promote themselves. It’s an extremely bright idea.”

Calabro will be teamed with former Arizona State standout safety Adam Archuleta in the booth with former USC assistant coach Yogi Roth on the sideline.

Networks meaningful to Robinson

Ted Robinson has done just about all you can in sports broadcasting, but he realizes there is something special about the college game.

As an example, Robinson was in Tucson last year to do the men’s basketball game between Stanford and Arizona when U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords was shot outside a grocery store. The game was postponed a day and Robinson said he was struck by the connection the Arizona campus had with its community.

“I was blown away by the reverence the community had for the university,” said Robinson, hired earlier this week to be the lead football play-by-play broadcaster for the Pac-12 Networks. “There was an incredible bond. It showed the role a university has in bonding people together. I didn’t understand that and it took a horrible thing to hammer it home. I learned something that day.”

Robinson is a perfect fit to call Pac-12 football games. He has served stints as the voice of Stanford and Cal and has done endless college games on network television.

“I’ve been around a lot,” Robinson said. “The conference is clearly moving in the right direction. I think we would all agree it needed a boost in terms of exposure. It’s great to be with the conference.

Robinson will call football games every week and be paired with color analyst Glenn Parker. Robinson is also the current radio voice of the San Francisco 49ers so wil be catching a lot of flights after Pac-12 games on Saturday to be at a 49ers game the next day.