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NFL Network Targets NCAA

October 2, 2007 9:54 AM

Charles CoplinThe NFL Network is going amateur, but in a good way.

The outlet is continuing to add to its college football-themed content and has scheduled the 2007 Circle City Classic, featuring the Winston-Salem State University Rams and the Florida A&M University Rattlers, to air on the channel Oct. 6. The contest is the first regular-season game on the channel.

“This is something we played from the beginning,” said Charles Coplin, VP of programming for the NFL Network. “We are about all things football and while we wanted to come out of the gate focused on the NFL, we are planning to be aggressive to acquire football programming of all types.”

The match-up, combined with the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28 and the Insight Bowl on Dec. 31 as well as the Under Armour Senior Bowl and the nightly series “College Football Now,” is part of a supplemental programming strategy by the network, and NFL executives said more will be on the way.

Mr. Coplin noted the NFL Network had already programmed high school football and had extensive coverage of the NFL combines and draft. However, the channel is looking for more opportunities to bring college games to the channel as the channel builds on its breadth of content.

“In some situations, the rights just aren’t available, but as we move forward we are examining opportunities that are available and right for us,” said Mr. Coplin. “College is obviously very close to the pro game, and we want to be aggressive in that pursuit.”

The Circle City Classic will feature the presentation of the Chase Major Taylor Award to Tony Dungy, head coach of the Super Bowl XLI Champion Indianapolis Colts, and Tamika Catchings, Olympic gold medalist and All-WNBA performer for the Indiana Fever. The award is given each year to African-American athletes, coaches, athletic administrators and officials who have made significant local and national contributions to youth initiatives, while encouraging excellence in future generations.

The game will be called by Spero Dedes and Sterling Sharpe.

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