I know intersquad fall scrimmages are right around the corner -- UMBC appears to be kicking everything off tomorrow when it faces Japan's Keio University at UMBC Stadium -- but I have to make a stark admission: My brain is already moving toward the 2013 season. This is the cross I bear; do not weep for me.
Part of this is due to the fact that schools are already announcing their schedules for next year -- High Point and Marquette (both entering their first seasons of competition that feature around a dozen games likely to create pain) are the early announcers -- and part of this is due to the really exciting fact that 2013 has the potential to be the most high-profile season ever for Division I lacrosse. The reason for this isn't going to shatter many brains, but it likely requires the bare minimum of elucidation: There will be televised next season -- through various mediums -- more games than have ever been televised before. (Writing that sentence made my pants a little tight.)
To the important bullet points!
- NBC Sports Network, under its new deal with the Ivy League, will televise up to four men's lacrosse games in 2013. With Princeton and Cornell expected to be among the stronger teams in the country next season and the rest of the league looking competitively balanced behind those top two, a national audience will have the opportunity to drink in some really solid action. As things stand currently, the Ivy League is probably the second-strongest conference on a top-to-bottom basis, and more exposure to their brawls is an awesome thing. Just think: Last year Princeton and Yale played a five overtime masterpiece of insanity; there's the potential that the world will actually be able to watch that in 2013. I want that, babycakes.
- CBS Sports Network, under its deal with the Patriot League, will televise a minimum -- not maximum -- of four regular season games and all three Patriot League Tournament games next year. My excitement level around this fact is the equivalent to the government announcing that we, as a society, have perfected the technology to develop and market Jetson-like personal transportation vehicles and they will be made available at an affordable cost. The opportunity to watch Lehigh and Colgate slug it out -- on TV! -- for the top spot in the league is going to be great; throw in Army, Navy, and Bucknell looking like foils to potentially put the league in a flat-spin of opaqueness and the juice gets even sweeter. Folks, in the overall, have really missed out on what's been happening in the Patriot League over the last few seasons and have been, instead, forced into the hegemony of super-elite Division I lacrosse. Hopefully this television package will continue to spread the wealth and let people see that there's great lacrosse being played outside the ACC, Homewood Field, and the Carrier Dome.
- ESPN and its various outlets will, more likely than not, continue to carry the flag for college lacrosse coverage. With its Big East, ACC, and Hopkins package -- not to mention the sundry of games that seem to appear on ESPN3 with no rhyme or reason other than that they exist -- ESPN is likely to unload its inventory, again, on the nation (even with less than stellar ratings). It's just not the NCAA Tournament that gets the four-letter network treatment; we're staring at a solid catalogue of games from March through May that should keep everyone satisfied.
- There's so much web-based content rolling around that it's hard to track. Schools are making available -- on both a fee and free basis -- all kinds of games that aren't getting the idiot box treatment. It's fabulous that I can plop down a couple of bucks and get a Drexel game a la carte; I can get Villanova against Bucknell with button clicks; Sacred Heart against Hartford is just a link away. The video isn't always anything near professional, but does that really matter? It's available, and that's the most important thing.
I'm pumped, you guys. This is going to be the best year ever, if only because it'll be the season in which we're all able to see more games than we've ever seen before.