Friday, February 25, 2011

Early 2011 schedule analysis

Five AQ conferences have finalized their schedules along with Conference USA.  Let's take a look at a few things

  • ESPN only selected two Big East games for its use on Championship Saturday. Tack on the ACC Championship game and that's only three games for ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 to use out of possibly seven game slots (excluding the possibility of the BYU-Hawai'i being televised later in the evening).  We've heard the rumblings of Big 12 games moving to Championship Saturday.  Bank on it.
  • ESPN is nearly done with their Thursday night schedule.  Three spots remain (9/1, 9/8 and Thanksgiving) and it seems likely that all three will end up being Big 12 slots.  There are solid choices for 9/1 and 9/8 for the Big 12.  There was discussion about moving the Lone Star Showdown or Bedlam to December.  With Thanksgiving open, it feels more likely that Bedlam is moving. 
  • The Friday night schedule is close to completion as well.  Four Big East slots and three BYU games are confirmed.  Likely a Black Friday game from the Big East will end up here too.  Also expecting the MAC Championship again on a Friday night.  That would leave the Sun Belt, WAC and MAC to fill 5-6 slots.
  • The Big East again had a Wednesday night football game scheduled.  In my opinion as a Big East fan, it sucks.  It is also part of the contract that was negotiated nearly four years ago.  Not much can be done.
  • I don't know if its guaranteed that there will be Black Friday games on ABC, but they gave themselves the possibility of such an occurrence with the Big East schedule.  I'd expect a Big East-Big 12 doubleheader.
  • The Wake Forest-Syracuse & Marshall-West Virginia games could be moved to alternate dates.  I don't see either game moving to Labor Day as the undercard for Maryland-Miami (FL).  Wake Forest and Marshall follow up these games by opening their conference schedules.  My guess is that both would prefer not to open those schedules on four days rest.  One game might move to Friday night.  The other may stay on Saturday and not move at all.
  • FOX is likely going through the C-USA schedule right now, attempting to move games around to Black Friday, Labor Day and Thursday nights.  I'm expecting their television schedule to be done on a 12 day basis, with CBS Sports Network and FOX Sports Media Group reserving time slots on Saturdays.
The next sets of schedules for ESPN (WAC, MAC, Sun Belt) should come out in relatively short order.  They've likely been in draft form waiting for confirmation of the ACC and Big East schedules.


Sean OLeary said...

I read that Oklahoma/Oklahoma State is definitely moving to December.

And that Texas and Texas A&M don't want to leave Thanksgiving night but would if ESPN really wanted it.

Unknown said...

There won't be an ESPN Friday night game the day before Championship Saturday. ESPN is obligated to do this Big East/SEC hoops challenge which calls for 4 games each day on that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Thursday and Friday they will have 2 games each on ESPN2 and ESPNU - therefore there will be no Friday night football on ESPN2 (ESPN has NBA).

So that weekend the way I see it is this:

ABC 3:30 Big East
ABC 8PM Big 12

ESPN Noon Big East
ESPN 8pm ACC (most likely also in 3D)

ESPN2 Noon MAC Title Game
ESPN2 8pm TBA - probably game in Hawaii

The 3:30pm and 5:30pm slots on each network will belong to the SEC/Big East hoops thing

ESPNU will have other college hoops and the DI-AA football championships; possibly a Sun Belt game.

Matt Sarzyniak said...

Jeff, your post makes a lot of sense. I don't know if they'll move up the Hawai'i game to 8pm. I think that could be a 2nd Big 12 game, depending on how many matchups they can move around.

If it stays as a single Big 12 game on ABC, I could see FSN taking a window that day too. That way ABC makes sure they don't get stuck with a clunker.

Unknown said...

Thanks Matt - any possibility that those 2 open slots in September go to the SEC? The SEC already is losing their CBS slots those weekends and they have a ton of games - some of which will easily get lost in the Saturday shuffle?? Also would the Pac 12 be willing to take some of those Friday slots just to get an east coast primetime window?

I see that on Friday October 7 that Boise St and Fresno St are scheduled to play. ESPN has aired that game the past 3 years - I could see them grabbing that game either for Friday ESPN2 or Saturday night ESPNU (doubtful) or even ABC at 3:30 regional. Also that day, Miami Ohio is hosting Army and while that game isn't great, its a good way to get Army on TV, if thats a priority. But I think they will go Boise.

Friday October 14 and Friday November 4, I currently see nothing of interest - so I guess we wait for MAC, WAC, and Sun Belt, unless someone convinces a power conference to move one of their games. Friday Oct 14 they also have night racing from Nascar on one of the 2 networks - so I would expect a lower profile football game. On November 4 they would probably like to avoid MAC. That is the Breeders Cup weekend and ESPN2 will have horse racing coverage right up till 7:30 or even 8pm. Also the next day there is no noon ESPN2 slot due to Nascar so that could play a factor in scheduling.

On Friday November 18 - there could be no game. That day is the Coaches vs Cancer hoops DH from Madison Square Garden. The last 2 years they did hoops at 5:00 and 7:30 and then followed with a Boise game. This year they could do the same format and throw it a WAC game (san jose st vs navy is only one currently scheduled - otherwise it will need to be the fresno st vs nevada game) or they could blow off football and put hoops at the normal 7/9:30 time slot.

So in conclusion the 3 Fridays with no games (not counting October 7 which I am convinced will be that Boise game), ESPN has other major programming those days - leading me to believe they want lower level games
What do you think?

Matt Sarzyniak said...

@Jeff - When I put together the week two schedule guesses, I initially had the Cincinnati-Tennessee game on Thursday. I moved that back in favor the Cy-Hawk game.

For the October 7th, that's a logical choice. I don't think its a priority to get the service academies a game on TV.

As for the Pac-12, I don't hold the opinion that they'll use Friday night games. I've read rumblings that they will consider them, but I don't know the viewpoints of those schools and if there would be any issues with the high schools in the Pac-12 areas by hosting Friday night games. I believe the CIF hosts their games on Fridays and has games televised on Prime Ticket.

Unknown said...

Matt - fantastic work today on this C-USA story. Sadly, we all need to have legal backgrounds just to discuss sports these days. Let's work under the assumption that ESPN will lose or play a minor role here and that CBS will gain some games for themselves.

But thats not what I wrote to you about. The MAC placed their football title game on Friday night. So what does this do for that Big East vs SEC hoops thing. They have no network for the 3rd and 4th game that night. With that said, do we now see 6 games on Saturday and as a result the noon/2pm ESPN2 slots goes to hoops instead??