Ex-Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel hired by Pac-12 Networks
Former Washington football coach joins Ronnie Lott and Summer Sanders as first TV hires by the Pac-12 Networks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Pac-12 NetworksLaunch date: Sometime in August
What it will be: One national network and six regional networks, one for each of the six two-school geographic areas of the conference
What it will show: 35 football games, as many as 125 men's basketball and 50 women's basketball games, and about 200 events in other sports.
What it will be worth: $3 billion over 12 years
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The picture of what the Pac-12 Networks will look like continued to become clearer after the conference announced Wednesday that former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel will be an on-air announcer.
Neuheisel joins Ronnie Lott, the former USC All-American football player, and Summer Sanders, the former Stanford and Olympic swimmer, as the initial on-air hires for the Pac-12 Networks, which will debut in August.
The networks will consist of one national channel and six regional channels, each devoted to a specific two-school geographic area (the state of Washington, Oregon, Bay Area, etc.). They are the centerpiece of the conference's new 12-year, $3 billion TV deal, which takes effect with the 2012-13 sports season.
Marquee football and basketball games will remain on various Fox and ESPN/ABC networks.
The Pac-12 was eager to join the trend in college sports of starting its own network that could air football and basketball games that previously weren't televised, as well as promoting other Olympic sports.
The conference said Neuheisel, Lott and Sanders will serve as "the initial faces" of the Networks. Neuheisel and Lott will be analysts for football games, and Sanders will serve as a host and provide analysis for a variety of events.
For Neuheisel, 51, it's a midlife career change that he admits he wasn't planning a year ago, when he was still the head coach at UCLA.
Neuheisel was fired after the 2011 regular season with a 21-28 record in four years coaching his alma mater. He was fired at Washington in the spring of 2003 after it was disclosed he had initially lied about participating in an NCAA basketball pool, which is forbidden by NCAA rules. He had come to UW after leaving Colorado, now a member of the Pac-12.
Neuheisel on Wednesday joked about his initial meeting with Pac-12 officials. "If your résumé requires that you've either been fired or booed by every team in the conference," he said he told them, "then I am certainly your leading candidate."
One published report said Neuheisel will earn as much as $300,000 per year in his new job. The conference did not release details.
Neuheisel, who led UW to the 2001 Rose Bowl title, an 11-1 record and No. 3 national ranking, said working for the Pac-12 Networks does not mean he is ruling out coaching again. But he also said he isn't broadcasting just to "bide my time" waiting for another coaching job.
"I've led a great life as a coach," he said. "I have no regrets about what took place in my career as a coach. I just believe that this is a chance to embark in something fresh and exciting, and like anybody else, we all look forward to new challenges."
Neuheisel recalled that he did some work for the College Sports Television network after he was fired at UW and had always been "fascinated" by television.
Neuheisel said he knows it can be a challenge to analyze coaches' decisions — after years of coaching. But he said he thinks that can be done "in such a way that is fair, but also is honest."
Pac-12 officials said Wednesday's announcement is the first of many announcements about on-air talent and programming as the Networks prepare to launch in August.
That includes the unveiling in June of a fall programming schedule.
The conference plans for the national network to telecast 35 football games, 125-plus men's basketball games, 50 or so women's basketball games and 200 or so Olympic sports events. The regional channel for the state of Washington would add another 50 UW sports events, and another 50 WSU events.
The Pac-12 Network is expected to be available on basic cable in markets throughout conference markets on Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House. Distribution on satellite operators such as DirecTV and Dish has not been announced.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.