Monday, February 19, 2018

Way Too Early 2018 CFB TV Guesses: Weeks Zero & One

This is an early, way too early, guess at how the various TV networks might slot their college football games for Weeks Zero & One of 2018.  If you click on the links for the weeks below, you'll get the existing schedule for the week and any games already set for TV.

If I didn't list your game, assume its going to be available exclusively online.

Week Zero
* I don't know of any rumored overseas games at this time.  My best guess is that any other games involving schools playing at Hawai'i (Navy, Nevada, UNLV or Utah St.) could move to this date.  Rice, who is also playing at Hawai'i, has a game vs. Prairie View A&M on this date.

Jacksonville St. is contracted to be involved in the FCS Kickoff game again and is awaiting an opponent to be announced.  Maybe a second FCS game will be moved to this date.

Saturday
Duquesne at UMass, 6pm Eleven Sports
TBD vs. Jacksonville St., 6:30pm ESPN
Wyoming at New Mexico St., 8pm AggieVision

Week One
* I accounted for the following events:
  • US Open tennis airing on ESPN2 all day on Saturday 9/1
  • FS1 carrying at least one MLB game on Saturday 9/1 with a game already scheduled for 4pm ET.  I'm going to assume a 7pm ET game too.
* I made the call to move Houston at Rice to Friday night so I could get that game on CBSSN.  It was either to move that game or Indiana at FIU.  Since the 2016 matchup between the Hoosiers and the Panthers was moved to a Thursday night, I figured it wasn't feasible to move it to a weeknight again.

* I really struggle with what the decision will be for Oklahoma's member retained game.  I feel that neither FAU nor Army (9/22) deserve to be shown as PPV games.  Maybe the Army game ends up on FSN nationally as the member retained game.  For the FAU game, I gave that to FOX Sports.

* For conferences where ESPN and FOX share rights, I gave the top choices for the week from the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 to FOX Sports.  For those of you scoring at home, that would mean I had FOX choose Oregon St. at Ohio St. over Texas vs. Maryland.

* I understand there's a report out there that CBS will be sublicensing West Virginia vs. Tennessee from Charlotte.  I was able to craft the schedule without the need for a CBS sublicense, but that likely depends on the ability to move multiple SEC games off of Saturday, such as what I did with a SEC Network doubleheader on Thursday.

* I am assuming existing C-USA rightsholders will remain the same.  beIN Sports was already contracted to air games in 2018.

* For FOX's top Pac-12 choice, I went with Cincinnati at UCLA over North Carolina at California, using the Chip Kelly curiosity factor.  For the FS1 choice, since both Arizona schools are at home and the FS1 opening I had was late evening, I assume one is one Pac-12 Networks & the other is on either FS1 or ESPN, therefore I went with BYU at Arizona.

Thursday
6pm CBSSN: UCF at Connecticut
6pm SEC: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina
8pm ESPN: Northwestern at Purdue
8pm BTN: New Mexico St. at Minnesota
8pm Pac-12: Weber St. at Utah
9pm SEC: UT Martin at Missouri
9:15pm CBSSN: Wake Forest at Tulane

Friday
8pm ESPN: Utah St. at Michigan St.
8pm FS1: Western Kentucky at Wisconsin
8pm CBSSN: Houston at Rice
10pm Pac-12: San Diego St. at Stanford

Saturday
12pm ABC: Texas vs. Maryland
12pm FOX: FAU at Oklahoma
12pm ESPN: Akron at Nebraska
12pm FS1: Appalachian St. at Penn St.
12pm FSN: Abilene Christian at Baylor
12pm ESPNU: Army at Duke
12pm SEC: Austin Peay at Georgia
12pm SEC: Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
12pm BTN: Texas St. at Rutgers
12pm CBSSN: Syracuse at Western Michigan
12:20pm ACC Network: Furman at Clemson
12:30pm ACC RSNs: Massachusetts at Boston College
2pm Pac-12: Bowling Green at Oregon
3:30pm ABC: Louisville vs. Alabama
3:30pm FOX: Oregon St. at Ohio St.
3:30pm ESPNU: Boise St. at Troy
3:30pm CBSSN: Colorado vs. Colorado St.
3:30pm BTN: Kent St. at Illinois
3:30pm FSN: Missouri St. at Oklahoma St.
4pm SEC: Stephen F. Austin at Mississippi St.
4pm SEC: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt
5pm Pac-12: North Carolina at California
5:30pm ESPN: Tennessee vs. West Virginia
6pm KStateHD.TV/ESPN3: South Dakota at Kansas St.
7pm CBSSN: Indiana at FIU
7pm beIN Sports: SMU at North Texas
7pm Jayhawk TV: Nicholls at Kansas
7:30pm FOX: Cincinnati at UCLA
7:30pm ESPNU: Central Michigan at Kentucky
7:30pm SEC: Northwestern St. at Texas A&M
7:30pm SEC: Charleston Southern at Florida
7:30pm BTN: Northern Illinois at Iowa
8pm ABC: Washington vs. Auburn
8pm Pac-12: UNLV at USC
8pm Cyclones.TV: South Dakota St. at Iowa St.
8pm FSN: Southern at TCU
9pm ESPN: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
10:15pm ESPNU: Washington St. at Wyoming
10:30pm FS1: BYU at Arizona
10:30pm CBSSN: Navy at Hawai'i
11pm Pac-12: UTSA at Arizona St.

Sunday
* At the moment, I don't have a good reason to move any game to Sunday for FOX.  There's a few reasons for this:
  • I don't see FOX using three Pac-12 selections right off the bat.
  • Both of the Arizona schools still set for playing on Saturday makes it tough for one of them to NOT be the FS1 late Saturday game.  Both schools strongly prefer to play in the evening in September due to heat concerns.  Because of how the Pac-12 Networks are programmed, a game airing on the national feed also airs on the regional feed, so they'd have to break the rule to show Arizona school on the national feed & another on the Pac-12 Arizona feed.
  • Even if one of the Arizona schools moved off of a Saturday game date and Sunday was offered, the game moving would be UTSA at Arizona St. due to BYU's stance on Sunday competition.  In that case, you could see both BYU at Arizona (late Saturday) & UTSA at Arizona (Sunday) on Pac-12 Networks, with California at North Carolina moved over to FOX on Sunday or FS1 on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Notes on the 2018 ACC, American & C-USA Football Schedule Releases

ACC
American
C-USA

I lumped these three together because I wanted to have enough content to write about.  To be clear, expect the majority of these to be about the first two conferences listed.

* Here's a reasonable guess of the ESPN Thursday Night Schedule based on the ACC & American taking up the majority of the schedule and accounting for the expected weeks when FOX likely couldn't take a game for FS1 due to MLB playoffs.

8/30: Northwestern at Purdue (hey man, its what we got right now)
9/6: None. ESPN has to skip due to US Open commitments (women's semifinals)
9/13: Boston College at Wake Forest
9/20: Tulsa at Temple (pending finalized NFL schedule)
9/27: North Carolina at Miami (FL)
10/4: Tulsa at Houston
10/11: Let's assume Texas Tech at TCU with FS1 likely on MLB duty
10/18: Let's assume Stanford at Arizona St. with FS1 likely on MLB duty
10/25: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, which should send Baylor at West Virginia to FOX Sports
11/1: Temple at UCF
11/8: Wake Forest at NC State
11/15: Tulane at Houston
11/22: Mississippi St. at Ole Miss

For 8/30, Northwestern at Purdue doesn't feel like a likely opener for ESPN.  I could certainly see them working on another game, maybe from the SEC to relieve a potential glut of SEC Network-worthy games.

As for Baylor at West Virginia (more likely than not?) on FOX Sports on 10/25, that should be an off day within the World Series.

* I'll sketch out the Friday night schedule later in the spring once the remaining conference schedules appear, likely in early March.  There's plenty of Fridays where there's at least two games scheduled if you work through the 2018 schedule, including potential for at least some Friday night doubleheaders.  One Friday game to note is TCU at SMU on 9/7.  It is airing on the same evening as the US Open men's semifinals, which are required to air on ESPN per contract, so look for the football game on in the place it has often aired on this particular Friday: ESPN2.

* The UCF at Connecticut game on 8/30 was excluded from the list of Thursday night games airing on ESPN in the American's schedule release.  My guess is that CBS Sports Network could end up with a doubleheader of American games with the back half being Wake Forest at Tulane.

* I'm unsure what the potential plan is for ESPN in the event Tulsa at Temple has to move back to Saturday 9/22.  Temple's schedule release did not give Friday 9/21 as an option and the American has FAU at UCF scheduled for that evening.  There are two C-USA games that week involving Power 5 opponents (NC State at Marshall & Virginia Tech at Old Dominion).  I suspect they could end up wait until the Mountain West's schedule is finalized and take a game from there if needed.

I can't speak to the odds of the Eagles playing two Thursday night games in the first three weeks of the season, but I've seen recent examples of teams playing back-to-back Thursday night games, such as the Lions (2015) & Cowboys (2017) both playing on Thanksgiving and the Thursday after at home.

* Both the ACC and American released their Friday night games without TV partners, which has been par for the course with the ACC for the past few seasons, but new with the American.  I think we'll know more about any American games sent over to CBSSN around the same time the Mountain West sets their weeknight schedule.

Memphis at SMU on 11/16 might be more likely to get sent to CBSSN since ESPN Networks often has MBK events around this date and tends to take a western located football game.  CBSSN has also happened to air college football around this particular date in the past four years.

* Notice that Navy did not have any TV information next to their home games.  Their agreement with CBSSN expired.  The American does require between 80-90% of their conference controlled games to air on national TV, so there's a few things that could happen:
  • ESPN and CBSSN expand their sublicensing terms for football to include a few more football games, regardless of the competing teams.
  • ESPN works with the conference to allow for a few more streaming games.
  • An agreement is reached to continue the previous Navy-CBSSN agreement until the end of the current rights agreement.  I suppose that would be similar to the first option listed, but this one explicitly calls out the Navy games and treats them differently since they're not a full member of the conference.
* A couple folks asked about when there would be some news about Conference USA's rights agreements, which are up for negotiation except for beIN Sports.  I don't have any information to provide.  Last time out, the agreements were announced in May.  As mentioned above, 9/22 is the date with C-USA's most valuable games, which might leave ESPN out of those and without knowing the Mountain West schedule, I can't say whether CBS Sports Network would be in play for them either if they continue as a rightsholder.