The FTC points out that by selling the broadcast rights to their games exclusively to one network, CFA members have agreed not to compete against each other in the TV marketplace. The commission believes that viewers, networks and the schools involved would all be better served if CFA members were free to sell to any television outlet—including another network—the rights to any of their games not shown by ABC. Under the contract with ABC, CFA schools will be able to peddle games not shown by ABC, but only to local, cable or syndicated stations. These games can't be telecast on Saturdays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., when ABC will show its CFA games.
CFA lawyer Lewis Engman, a former FTC chairman, calls the FTC's action "a royal waste of taxpayers' money" and adds, "I'm not aware of anyone complaining that there's not enough football on television." He has a point. In some markets as many as a dozen college games are televised on Saturday.
However, that figure includes games shown on two networks: CBS, whose exclusive contract with the CFA expires after this season, and ABC, which has the rights to games involving the Big Ten and Pac-10, the only major conferences not in the CFA. Starting next fall, ABC will have the CFA, Big Ten and Pac-10 all in its stable and thus will have network rights to virtually all regular-season major college games except Notre Dame home games.
Though Arquit wouldn't speculate, the FTC would surely be happier to see various superconferences negotiating TV deals independently of each other.
OFFENSE IS HIS GAME
Before long Orlando Magic general manager Pat Williams will have insulted every Florida city except his own. During the NBA season Williams fired (mostly) good-natured barbs at Miami, home of the rival Heat. Lately Williams, who's also general manager of the Orlando SunRays, a minor league baseball team, has taken aim at St. Petersburg, with which he's competing in an intrastate battle to land a major league franchise.
Seizing on St. Petersburg's reputation as a retirement city, Williams billed a recent SunRays game as St. Pete's Night and offered free admission and free muscle balm to fans older than 60. Other highlights of the evening included shuffleboard and a senior-citizen putting contest, in which entrants used a putter whose head was a denture. When told that St. Petersburg officials didn't find much mirth in all this supposed humor, Williams claimed that they had actually given him the key to their city. "It was the key to a canned ham," he said.
Time to work on some Mickey Mouse jokes about Orlando, St. Pete.
OLE MISS STOOD BY HIM
Last Saturday night Mississippians held a coming-out party for former Rebel defensive back Chucky Mullins. As he led the Mississippi team onto the field before its season-opening 23-21 victory over Memphis State at home, Mullins was greeted by a standing ovation from the 41,300 fans in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. What made the scene poignant was that Mullins came onto the gridiron in a battery-powered wheelchair that he controls with his head. He is confined to the chair as a result of a neck injury that he suffered last Oct. 28 when he made a touchdown-saving tackle against Vanderbilt. The injury left him paralyzed from the neck down.