First, head over to my site to review the selections made so far for each conference and week of the season.
Takeaways that I had from the early season & special date TV schedule releases:
* I thought they would have to slot Tennessee at Pitt in the noon Eastern slot instead of 3:30pm due to the Pirates playing at home at night. I guess that because the Pirates game will start while the football game is still in progress, the issues regarding traffic are lessened even if there's a bit of a parking crunch.
* Having Virginia Tech and Virginia in back-to-back games on ACC Network with three hour TV windows seems a bit odd, even if the Hokies game should be in hand by the time the UVA game starts. Further compounding this situation is the Cavaliers opponent, Old Dominion, another Virginia school. The game following ODU-UVA also has another Virginia school: Liberty. It just spirals.
That said, we live in a digital age and I'm sure fans will be directed to the ESPN app to watch the start of the game just starting. But I do think that they could have swapped one of the games for the Charleston Southern-NC State game on RSNs.
* Assuming Notre Dame vs. Navy is on ABC, at least two other American games will get picked up for airing on the broadcast network. I'm less certain that it will be whichever game from the final week of the season gets moved to Black Friday.
* Using the guideline of a maximum of 32 games for ESPN's portion of the Big 12 rights package, FOX Sports should carry at least 24 games from the conference. Here's how I arrived at that number:
- 66 regular season games as part of the Big 12 rights agreement
- Not counting the conference championship game
- One game from each school is set aside for institutional rights. A total of 10 games.
- Last year, these same 10 games were also not part of ESPN's national rights games. They carried 29 Big 12 regular season games when excluding these from a game count.
- 56 remaining games - 32 for ESPN at the most = At least 24 for FOX Sports
At the moment, ESPN has used nine of their 32 selections for the conference.
* A few Big Ten fans have asked whether it was surprising that FOX did not use its Big Noon window over Labor Day weekend. I suppose that I'm not after seeing the game choices they made. Maybe if they kept Penn State at Purdue for Saturday it would have slotted in there, but they had a great number for Ohio State at Minnesota for a Thursday night game on the broadcast network last year and I bet this will draw well for them too, even if its down from last year.
And I wouldn't have moved UTEP at Oklahoma to an earlier start time to have a Big Noon game. With MLB in the evening, I'd rather have the football game as a lead-in.
* By my count, FOX Sports announced 14 of 28 Big Ten selections. ESPN announced 9 of 26. Why the difference in the number of selections FOX has compared to ESPN? ESPN sent one Big Ten selection over to FOX as compensation for allowing Joe Buck to leave for ESPN. Penn State at Purdue was the extra FOX selection.
* For games on BTN, Nebraska and Iowa have satisfied the requirement of two games scheduled for the network with one game vs. a conference opponent. The two schools playing each other on Black Friday on BTN is what clinched that.
* A few Penn State fans have asked about the Ohio State being the yearly Whiteout game with a report that the game on 10/29 is in the FOX Sports bucket of games and would be a noon ET start. I can't confirm that report, but I do wonder if the decision to play the homecoming game vs. Minnesota at night is another sign that the Ohio State game will be a day game.
* C-USA having less games on Stadium is a bit interesting. I don't quite know what to make of it, unless they've elected to exercise a contractual clause to choose less games due to membership changes. CBS Sports Network retained its 18 games (17 regular season and the conference championship game, but one difference appears to be that all 18 will be on CBSSN instead of showing three via Facebook exclusively. I don't know if C-USA scheduling a few games for Week 0 allowed for more C-USA games to be on CBSSN.
* For Central Connecticut at UConn, I think that one will be locally or regionally televised. SNY is open that afternoon if they want it. Maybe Paramount+ will carry it out of market for those who want to see it. If I remember correctly, this was a gray area in the UConn agreement with CBS Sports Network as some games they could give back to the school for them to make their own arrangement to televise.
* My assumption for Liberty's linear TV game on an ESPN network is that either BYU (10/22) or Virginia Tech (11/19) will be the choice.
* The MAC release slyly mentioned that some of their games will air on NFL Network, but there's no other news from the conference about that. One of the conference's games that might end up over there is the Marshall at Bowling Green game on 9/17 as it had the "TV TBD" designation while all other games controlled by the conference had TV outlets in place.
NFL Network carrying college football isn't new. They had an agreement with Conference USA for 10 games a year for four years, starting in 2019, but the agreement appears to have been dissolved after one year when they carried no games after the 2019 season.
* Utah State at Boise State should have been in the FOX Sports package of Mountain West games, but ended up as a Black Friday game on CBS. In the previous set of rights agreements with CBS and ESPN, ESPN could trade one Boise State home game to CBS in exchange for one of Boise State's MW road games. This doesn't appear to have happened as CBS Sports is carrying five of BSU's Mountain West games. I assume this is due to FOX having limited room to carry games due to the World Cup over that week.
CBS carrying the Mountain West the opening two weeks of the season when they would be otherwise not carrying any college football is nice as well too. I'm not on the bandwagon that they chose two Pac-12 games to get the conference to pay attention once their rights come up for bid in the near future. I think they chose the best available MW games for those weeks. In the case of 9/10, both choices were games involving a pair of games vs. Pac-12 schools once Boise State at New Mexico was moved to Friday night.
As for the remaining MW controlled games not selected for TV, Spectrum Sports in Hawai'i will end up taking seven of them for Hawai'i's pay-per-view package. After that, I'm not certain what will happen with the remaining games. Stadium wasn't listed in the conference's release as picking up any of the remaining games, so I'm unsure as to whether they are continuing with the conference. Excluding the Hawai'i games, there's only two other intraconference games not selected by either national TV partner.
* I do find it interesting that ESPN got their required appearances for the Pac-12 out of the way in the first two weeks of the season. They technically don't have to show another game from the conference on ABC the rest of the year if they don't have a selection that merits it. They'll probably carry a few more though.
FOX brought back their late evening Pac-12 broadcast network game, and from what I've been told, there's another planned for mid-November.
ESPN has announced 9 of their 22 Pac-12 selections. Using past precedence, Georgia vs. Oregon from Atlanta counts as Pac-12 selection for ESPN's rights agreements as something Larry Scott allowed ESPN to do to provide value to their rights agreement via neutral site games. FOX Sports has also announced 9 of their 22 selections.
Arizona State, California, UCLA and Washington State have already fulfilled the requirement for games selected by Pac-12 Networks. The remaining games on their respective schedules not already selected by ESPN or FOX Sports can be selected by either of those two entities.
* I had assumed that Penn State at Auburn would be the choice for CBS's opening SEC game this year, though Miami (FL) at Texas A&M would have been just fine too. I felt that having two large fanbases made the different in choosing Penn State over Miami (FL). By choosing a non-conference game, CBS frees up some SEC school (Georgia? A&M?) to be chosen over the remaining CBS openings.
I know that I did choose Alabama for the ESPN primetime game on 9/3, giving the reason of "because Alabama", but they made a good decision to go with Utah at Florida.
* I am surprised that Virginia Tech at Old Dominion wasn't on main ESPN instead of ESPNU. Either way, ESPN should have at least five more Sun Belt games carried on linear TV as part of the in-season selection process.
Eastern Michigan at Louisiana is also designated with a similar "TV TBD" as the Marshall at Bowling Green. I don't know if NFL Network is being considered for some Sun Belt games though. If it is, I wonder if the network can fulfill the remaining linear TV games for the conference that their contract requires of ESPN or would supplement it.