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Thom Talks Jesse Jackson Jr. on Good Day Chicago

Yesterday Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi received their sentences. Thom dropped by the Fox Chicago studios to talk about how this story fits in with Illinois’ checkered past and how it all fits in a larger historical context.


Big East small schools win off the court!

For the perennial contenders, the ones seemingly cemented in the top-10 every year, the 64-school March Madness tournament is a culmination of unending sweat equity, hundreds of recruiting hours, game planning, team building, booster relations, all the ingredients needed for success.

Sadly, only one team will finish their season with a win, and even with so much at stake, with so much invested time, energy and dedication that stands to be for naught, there’s still a positive flip side.

The little guys—the schools jumping for joy simply from the getting the opportunity to dance—can make more of an impact in just the first week of games than the powerhouses can make winning the whole darn thing.

How about 15th seeded and Sweet 16-bound Florida Gulf Coast’s (FGC) huge upset of two seed Big East Co-Champions Georgetown University? Wow! And fifth seed Wisconsin losing to Mississippi!?

From a communications, PR point of view you simply can’t beat the national exposure that small schools like FGC, Iowa State, St. Louis, San Diego State, Bucknell, and Butler get this time of year.

Butler’s back-to-back trips to the championship game in 2010 and 2011 had a seismic impact on the school’s recruiting, both athletic and academic. Butler’s last second loss to Marquette Saturday night was one of the top three games in this year’s tournament.

And it’s that kind of watershed impact media coverage can have that inspired me to write about the week’s non-tournament college basketball news: the potential 12-year $500 million agreement between the “New” Big East (future name, TBD) and Fox Sports.

As conferences tend to these days, the Big East has been undergoing some restructuring lately. It’s been reported on for weeks now, but the dust finally settled just a few days ago. Who’s in, who’s out?

While Marquette, DePaul, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown will stay, confirmed additions to the “new” Big East conference include Xavier, Butler and Creighton, with Dayton and St. Louis slated for potential membership in the 2014/15 school year. (6 of those schools made it into this year’s NCAA tourney)

Combined, the five new schools don’t even equal the enrollment of three individual schools that will be exiting the conference (Cincinnati, Rutgers or South Florida). In total, even with the additions of Dayton and St. Louis, Big East undergraduate enrollment will plummet from over 260,000 to just below 93,000.

In spite of all that, the deal the conference just inked with Fox Sports will grant them national, exclusive, cross-platform coverage over television, radio and online.

For the smaller schools, this agreement is an absolute coup!

Schools like Xavier, Creighton, Butler and Providence, whose enrollments are one fifth to one TENTH the size of some of the schools now making new homes in conferences elsewhere, will be receiving equally disproportionate media coverage.

It’s a media partnership that must have the presidents and trustees of these schools doing back flips!

Lopped in with this news is the preservation of a crucial branding element that founding Big East members have secured through the continuation of the conference’s annual tournament at the prestigious Madison Square Garden.

I might argue that with more teams now being concentrated in the Midwest, a Big East conference tournament in Chicago would be more appropriate (I may have some bias in the matter), but from an exposure standpoint, the schools retain the opportunity to showcase themselves before a New York City audience—media market number one.

In just a few weeks, college basketball will crown its lone king. But with the publicity victories that the “New” Big EAST just scored for the next decade, it’s a little less obvious who the real winners will ultimately be.


Thom Serafin Joins Monmouth College Post-Election Panel

As part of a Midwest Matters Forum at Monmouth College, Thom Serafin joined a panel of distinguished statewide political minds in the weeks following the Presidential Election. He shared his insight alongside former Democratic National Committee Chair David Wilhelm, Chicago Tribune reporter Rick Pearson and Associated Press political reporter Mike Glover. For a full look at the discussion–entitled Election 2012: What did it teach us and what does the future hold?–check out the embedded video below:


Thom Serafin talks Hurricane Sandy and the down-ballot Illinois races

With Election Day just 72 hours away, Thom Serafin details the down-ballot races that are tightening up. Campaign 2012 is coming to an end, and the stakes are high for elected officials across Illinois.


Thom gives his thoughts on the final presidential debate

Now that the debates have ended, we’re just two weeks away from the election. What should we expect moving forward, especially now that a front-runner has yet to separate himself in the polls? Political analyst Thom Serafin offers his perspective in the wake of last night’s foreign policy debate.


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