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New Book Chronicles Eastern Illinois Football

Names such as Tony Romo, Sean Payton, Mike Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo are familiar to football fans.

How about Burl Ives?

Yes, the American actor, writer and folk music singer was part of Eastern Illinois football as well.

 width=Ives' story is part of author Dan Verdun's new book "EIU Football," which chronicles the history of the program. The book will be released next week.

Verdun, who graduated from EIU in 1988, tells the history of the Panthers, whose program includes two Walter Payton Award winners (Romo and Garoppolo) and the 1978 NCAA Division II national championship. His book also includes insight on topics such as rivalries, recruiting, the marching band and the Pink Panthers dance team.

The book's forward is written by former head coach Bob Spoo.

"EIU has become a top-notch college program while doing things the right way, and this book does an unbelievable job of capturing that journey," said Garoppolo, who led the Panthers to a No. 2 national FCS ranking during the 2013 season.

"EIU Football" will be released by Northern Illinois Press.

>>MAC Commissioner Says ESPN Deal Brings Stability

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher says the league's new 13-year media rights agreement with ESPN provides long-term stability to the conference at uncertain time for college athletics.

The MAC and ESPN officially announced the new deal, which runs through the 2026-27 season, on Tuesday. The contract reworks the final three years of the current eight-year deal that MAC has with the network, and adds 10 years.

The deal ensures a continuation of the weeknight football games in November that have become the conference's niche - and gave birth to the Twitter hashtag #MACtion.

The agreement gives ESPN exclusive rights to all MAC sporting events, and guarantees coverage of all football games on one of the ESPN television networks or its online network, ESPN3. There is also a sublicensing agreement in the deal that will allow ESPN to sell rights to MAC sporting events to other networks.

Financial terms were not revealed, though Steinbrecher said the deal puts the MAC in a competitive position with its peer FBS conferences - the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Conference USA.

The American Athletic Conference has the most lucrative media rights deal of those leagues, a seven-year agreement worth about $130 million.

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