Sunday, February 21, 2010

Timelines and things to watch for this spring

Let's be honest. There's some pretty interesting media items that will need to be sorted out this year with the coverage of college football. Here's my items that come to mind.

1) Expansion - Big Ten and PAC-10 are talking about it. PAC-10 is using it like the ACC used it, to get a substantial increase in rights fees from someone and to get better coverage of their conference. Big Ten is already king and because of the academic stature of those schools, plenty of schools around the country would love to be in that mix.

I'm not naive to think that it won't happen, but the schools being courted have many things to consider. Is the move going to be a step up in revenue? What will our travel costs be? What are the politics in state going to be regarding keeping a school in its current place?

2) Contract negotiation - Both the ACC and Conference USA enter the final year of their deals with their rightsholders.

In the ACC they have several decisions to make since their football and basketball rightsholders are two different entities. ABC/ESPN owns the primary FB rights, but because of the new SEC deal, the ACC saw 16 of their games, specifically conference games and games vs. other FBS teams, moved to the ESPN360 service which is not available in all ACC areas. That number is one more than the previous four seasons combined. The conference saw the fewest number of ACC controllled games televised on all ABC/ESPN networks. Its conference championship game was moved to ESPN after four years on ABC in the hopes of strengthening the attendance at the game, which has been less than ideal.

Meanwhile, ACC basketball has been viewed at times as underachieving as a conference despite UNC winning a pair of national titles recently as the conference has had a pair of recent season where it only sent four teams to the tournament. It is also spread out over several networks with Raycom owing the telecast rights, then selling off the majority of games to other entities.

FOX has been the entity that has been rumored to be kicking the tires of the ACC rights and with the ACC's performance and recent economic trends, FOX might be the only entity that could give them a substantial increase in rights fees.

As for C-USA, my opinion is that the contracts they signed starting with 2005 were based more on speculation since half the conference members turned over. No one new what to expect. Come this season and C-USA has not had a team finish in the top 25 of either football poll in the current configuration and has only had one multi-bid season for the men's basketball championship. The conference has more national coverage than any other non-AQ in football, but have they deserved that? CBS College overpaid for the rights, but they still cede the best games to ESPN. Do they attempt to go for the whole package or does the conference decide that's its exposure on ESPN, weeknight FB games and as many conference games as the Horizon League and CAA, is still worth it? And will either entity provide an offer that is close to what C-USA wants?

Timeline for game announcements

And most of these dates are not hard-and-fast dates

Late-February through early March - the five non-AQ conferences should finalize their schedules. ESPN is likely playing a hand in picking games from each of these conferences except the Mountain West where they are working with Versus and CBS College to schedule their games.

April 1st - Around this time, schedules are completely finalized as ESPN will move a couple games/opponents around to get some made for TV matchups.

Mid-April - Big Ten tends to finalize its schedule of night games. This is done so far in advance because several stadiums within the conference do not have permanent lighting and arragements must be made to bring in temporary lights.

May 1st - ABC/ESPN selects several games for telecast from the PAC-10 and finalizes their telecast windows.

Late May/early June - Big Ten schools set their homecoming dates and kickoff times. They may also set the TV arragements for those games.

June 1st - The PAC-10 has their FSN and Versus telecast windows set and another set of games may be preselected for telecast.

Mid-June - All networks generally set their 1st three weeks of telecasts.

As the summer moves on, regional TV packages may be set and often the conference media days in July and August will release this information.

Conference Tournament Changes

Conference tournaments start up in a couple weeks and there's been a couple changes in the coverage of these tournaments, many of them for the better.

Atlantic 10
The conference has made a shift from a Wednesday-Saturday tournament to Tuesdays on campus (not televised, just like Wednesdays in the old format) and Friday-Sunday in Atlantic City. The quarters will still be regionally televised, but the semifinals will now be televised by CBS College Sports and the championship has moved from ESPN to CBS. A great year for the A-10 will now have a wider audience for its final.

Big East
The largest conference tournament with all 16 teams participating, the 1st round games will be televised this year. The afternoon session will be on ESPN2 and the evening session on ESPNU. No other changes as the rest of the games will be on ESPN.

Big Ten
A scheduling change regarding the start time of the 1st round will shuffle the TV partners covering these games. Since the advent of the Big Ten Network, the BTN covered the 12pm and ESPN2 covered the other two games. The conference has moved back the start time of that day to 2:30pm and ESPN2 will cover the 1st two games and the BTN will have a 1st round game in primetime at 7:30pm. Everything else stays the same.

Conference USA
The semifinals, which have shuffled between CBS College Sports and CSS, will air again on CBS College Sports this year. CBSC will continue to have coverage of the semifinals and CBS will remain the broadcaster of the final.

Mountain West
The MWC quarterfinals will be on The mtn. this year and once again will be available in HD, but the 2nd quarterfinal of each session will be simulcast on CBS College. Last year all four quarterfinal games were on both the mtn and CBS College. DirecTV subscribers should expect to be without Versus when this championship airs, so if you want to see it, make other plans.

Because of USC's self-imposed postseason ban, the 1st round will instead be a single game. The conference and FSN have set the start time of that game as 11pm Eastern.

Patriot League
As part of a new TV deal with CBS College Sports, one of the quarterfinal games will air live on March 3rd and one semifinal will air on March 8th. The final remains on ESPN2.

The conference tournament dates haven't changed, but now that ESPN is the primary rights holder for SEC basketball, they'll show the games on their networks. ESPN Regional Television's SEC Network will air the first round and quarterfinals, playing the role that Jefferson Pilot/Raycom Sports used to hold. Instead of regional syndication for the semifinals and a final on CBS, ABC will air its only college basketball games of the year with these three games.

A byproduct of the move of the Atlantic 10 final to CBS, the Southland will now finish its tournament on Saturday on ESPN2 instead of its traditional Sunday slot.

Also because of the Atlantic 10 championship move, the time slots for the MAC and Big West championships changed. The MAC moved up to a 6pm timeslot and the Big West now moves pre-midnight to 8pm.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Notes on the 1st three weeks guesses

First off, they are just guesses. Don't plan tailgates in September on guesses in February.

I tried to use some of the past trends for telecasts. ABC and ESPN don't like to waste TV selections if they don't have to, so FSN, Big Ten Network and Versus might get a few extra games at the beginning of the year.

FSN themselves also don't like to waste TV slots, so there's a chance that games that would be borderline selections for a national telecast, particularly with the PAC-10, will end up on regional TV.

NASCAR, IRL, MLB and MLS can all conflct with this schedule. I didn't actively look over MLB in great detail, but both NASCAR and IRL were taken into consideration because of their telecast slots on Versus.

The new Big Ten scheduling philosophy will not have a major effect on the early season telecast selections but should have an effect week four and beyond.

Finally, five conferences have not yet announced their schedules for the season (the five non-AQ). Shouldn't have much of an effect on week one. Could have a small effect on week two in the event any of those conferences decide to schedule any conference games. Both Conference USA and the Mountain West have the space to do that if they desire.

Week 3 College Football Guesses

USc at Minnesota, ESPN 12pm
Alabama at Duke, ESPN2 12pm
Maryland at West Virginia, ESPNU 12pm
North Texas at Army, CBS College 12pm
Ball St. at Penn St., Big Ten 12pm
Ohio at Ohio St., Big Ten 12pm
East Carolina at Virginia Tech, Raycom 12pm
Arkansas at Georgia, SEC Network 12:21pm
Iowa St. vs. Kansas St., Fox College 12:30pm
Florida at Tennessee, CBS 3:30pm
Notre Dame at Michigan St., ABC/ESPN 3:30pm
Georgia Tech at North Carolina, ABC/ESPN 3:30pm
Iowa at Arizona, ABC 3:30pm
Air Force at Oklahoma, FSN 3:30pm
BYU at Florida St., ESPNU 3:30pm
Kansas at Southern Miss, CBS College 3:30pm
Boise St. at Wyoming, The mtn. 3:30pm
Houston at UCLA, Prime Ticket 6:30pm
Nebraska at Washington, FSN 7pm
Clemson at Auburn, ESPNU 7pm
Hawai'i at Colorado, Fox College 7pm
Furman at South Carolina, Gamecocks PPV 7pm
Akron at Kentucky, WKYT 7pm
Baylor at TCU, CBS College 7:30pm
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, CSS 7:30pm
Mississippi St. at LSU, 7:45pm
Texas at Texas Tech, ABC 8pm
Arizona St. at Wisconsin, ESPN2 8pm
Louisville at Oregon St., FSN Northwest 10pm

California at Nevada (ESPN)

Week 2 College Football Guesses

Iowa St. at Iowa, ESPN 12pm
West Virginia at Marshall, ESPN2 12pm
Michigan St. vs. Florida Atlantic, ESPNU 12pm
Hawai'i at Army, CBS College 12pm
Duke at Wake Forest, Raycom 12pm
South Dakota at Minnesota, Big Ten 12pm
Illinois St. at Northwestern, Big Ten 12pm
Western Illinois at Purdue, Big Ten 12pm
UL-Monroe at Arkansas, SEC Network 12:21pm
Georgia Tech at Kansas, FSN 12:30pm
Michigan at Notre Dame, NBC 3:30pm
Miami (FL) at Ohio St., ABC 3:30pm
Florida St. at Oklahoma, ESPN2 3:30pm

Virginia at USC, FSN 3:30pm
LSU at Vanderbilt, ESPNU 3:30pm
Georgia Southern at Navy, CBS College 3:30pm
Montana St. at Washington St., FSN Northwest 3:30pm
Oregon at Tennessee, ESPN 4:30pm
Georgia at South Carolina, ESPN2 7pm
USF at Florida, ESPNU 7pm
Wyoming at Texas, FSN 7pm
Colorado at California, Versus 7pm
San Jose St. at Wisconsin, Big Ten 7pm
Southern Illinois at Illinois, Big Ten 7pm
Texas Tech at New Mexico, The mtn. 7pm
Western Kentucky at Kentucky, FSN Regional (SO/FL) 7pm
Syracuse at Washington, FSN Northwest 7pm
Indiana St. at Cincinnati, Big East/FSOhio 7pm
NC State at UCF, CBS College 7:30pm
Ole Miss at Tulane, CSS/Cox 7:30pm
Penn St. at Alabama, ESPN 8pm
Stanford at UCLA, ESPN2 10:15pm
Colorado St. at Nevada, ESPNU 10:30pm

Friday selection

With the strength of TCU and SMU, I could see either this game or the West Virginia-Marshall game being played on a Friday night. Regarding Michigan St. vs. Florida Atlantic, I believe this is still an FAU home game though it is being played at Ford Field based on the agreement to move the game.

This is also one of two weekends where CBS College will have both Army and Navy home games. 10/30 is the other date.

Edit (2/20/10) - Moved Virginia-USC to 3:30pm on FSN. Through researching the past couple years, FSN and ESPN did not share a telecast window, so Stanford-UCLA will remain at 10:15pm

Week 1 College Football Guesses

Here's my guess for Week One of college football 2010

Southern Miss at South Carolina, ESPN 7pm
Marshall at Ohio St., ESPN2 7:30pm
Towson at Indiana, Big Ten 7pm
Minnesota at Middle Tennessee, ESPNU 8pm
Pittsburgh at Utah, CBS College 9pm
USC at Hawai'i, ESPN 10:15pm

Texas at Rice (at Reliant), ESPN 12pm
Northwestern at Vanderbilt, ESPN2 12pm
Illinois vs. Missouri, FSN 12pm
Washington St. at Oklahoma St., Versus 12pm
Kentucky at Louisville, ESPNU 12pm
Eastern Illinois at Iowa, Big Ten 12pm
Youngtown St. at Penn St., Big Ten 12pm
UL-Lafayette at Georgia, SEC Network 12:21pm
Purdue at Notre Dame, NBC 3:30pm (confirmed)
UCLA at Kansas St., ABC/ESPN 3:30pm
Connecticut at Michigan, ABC/ESPN 3:30pm
Washington at BYU, Versus 3:30pm
North Texas at Clemson, ESPNU 3:30pm
Coastal Carolina at West Virginia, Big East 3:30pm
Colorado vs. Colorado St., The mtn. 4:30pm
San Jose St. at Alabama, ESPNU 7pm
Arkansas St. at Auburn, ESPN Classic 7pm
Miami (OH) at Florida, FSN Regional (So/FL) 7pm
SMU at Texas Tech, FSN Regional (SW/MW/RM) 7pm
UC-Davis at California, CSN California 7pm
Western Michigan at Michigan St., Big Ten 7pm
Utah St. at Oklahoma, FSN PPV 7pm
Western Kentucky at Nebraska, FSN PPV 7pm
Tennessee Tech at Arkansas, ARSN PPV 7pm
Jacksonville St. at Ole Miss, CSS PPV 7pm
UT-Martin at Tennessee, Vol Network PPV 7pm
Memphis at Mississippi St., CSS 7:30pm
Stony Brook at USF, Big East 7:30pm
TCU vs. Oregon St., ABC 8pm
North Carolina vs. LSU, ESPN 8pm
Wisconsin at UNLV, CBS College 8pm
New Mexico at Oregon, 10:15pm FSN
Cincinnati at Fresno St., ESPN2 10:30pm (confirmed)

Texas at Rice is doable for a high noon kickoff because of Reliant Stadium being a retractable roof stadium. Could see that game or another game get moved to Sunday. ESPN2 will not have an early evening or mid afternoon game due to NASCAR obligations.

The three MWC games against FCS opponents could end up on the mtn.

Versus has Indycar obligations on 9/4 at night, so any college football will be early & mid-afternoon

Friday, February 12, 2010

ESPN's Thursday night schedule taking shape

With the release of the ACC and Big East schedules the past two weeks, ESPN's Thursday night schedule has taken shape.

September 2nd - Southern Miss at South Carolina & USC at Hawai'i
September 9th - Auburn at Mississippi St.
September 16th - Cincinnati at NC State
September 23rd - Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh
September 30th - Texas A&M at Oklahoma St.
October 7th - Nebraska at Kansas St.
October 14th - USF at West Virginia
October 21st - UCLA at Oregon
October 28th - Florida St. at NC State
November 4th - Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
November 11th - Pittsburgh at Connecticut
November 18th - TBD
November 25th - Texas A&M at Texas
December 2nd - Arizona St. at Arizona

The November 18th game has been speculated to be a game involving Boise St.

The Friday night schedule will be announced over the next few weeks. So far five dates will involve the Big East (four straight Fridays from 10/8 through 10/29 and 11/26) , Arizona at Toledo on 9/3 and Oklahoma St. at UL-Lafayette on 10/8. The Sun Belt matchup on 10/8 will be on ESPN2 while Connecticut-Rutgers will be on ESPN.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One Month Left

One month left in the college basketball regular season. Let's get down to the top games of this week on TV

  • Villanova at West Virginia, 7pm (ESPN) - A WV win ties them for 2nd with 'Nova and puts them a game behind the Orange
  • Kansas at Texas, 9pm (ESPN) - The Longhorns were at the top of the polls a few weeks ago, could fall to 5th in conference with a loss
  • Louisiana Tech at New Mexico St., 9pm (ESPN Plus/Full Court) - Game for WAC 2nd place

  • Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 7pm (ESPN) - Winner trails Kentucky by a game
  • Purdue at Michigan St., 9pm (ESPN) - A Purdue win could create a multi team logjam (4-5 teams) at the top of the Big Ten standings.


  • Florida St. at Clemson, 7pm (ESPN2) - Bubble teams from the ACC. Neither one can afford a loss as they try to stay around .500 in conference.
  • Virginia at Maryland, 7pm (ESPNU) - Both teams are on the better side of the bubble, but a win here for either side boosts the resume. A Virginia win also creates a tie among multiple teams for 2nd place.
  • Richmond at Rhode Island, 7pm (Cox-New England) - Rhode Island can get win #20 here. Richmond has the better resume with the win vs. Temple, but Rhode Island does have wins vs. BC, Providence and Oklahoma St.
  • New Mexico at UNLV, 11pm (CBS College) - Three team tie at the top of the Mountain West and these two teams are part of that logjam.

See, no UConn-SU or Duke-UNC. Why? Neither game means much. UNC is so far down the ACC food chain that NIT is quite likely. Same for UConn unless they make a serious run.


  • Ole Miss at Mississippi St., 9pm (ESPN) - The SEC West is wide open again, including Arkansas and these two teams.
  • Washington at California, 9pm (ESPN2) - Cal has 1st place on its own and needs to separate itself. Washington is sharing No. 2 with four other teams.
  • St. Mary's at Gonzaga, 11pm (ESPN2) - Teams tied for 1st in the loss column in the WCC.


  • Maryland at Duke, 1pm (CBS) - Could be for 1st in the ACC.
  • Butler at Cleveland St., 2pm (Horizon League syndication) - Outside change Butler could clinch the regular season title here and get home court for at least the semifinals of the conference tournament
  • George Mason at Old Dominion, 4pm (CSN Regional) - Both teams need to keep pace with Northeastern
  • Temple at Rhode Island, 4pm (Atlantic 10 syndication) - Charlotte is a surprising 1st place in the A-10 and both teams could use a good win against each other as at-large security.
  • Xavier at Florida, 6pm (ESPN) - A late non-conference game for both teams. For both teams, a win against the other will improve their non-conference profile. Both teams have a very good chance at an at-large.
  • Memphis at Tulsa, 7pm (ESPN2) - C-USA has a good chance at multiple bids now that Memphis has fallen back to the pack.
  • Tennessee at Kentucky, 9pm (ESPN) - Arguably the two best teams in the SEC.