Two conferences and one school attached to a conference, but with their rights controlled by a TV deal signed as an independent, are a few of the interesting pieces and parts of filling out scheduling and television for the 2015 season.
This is the final year of C-USA's existing rights agreements with FOX and CBS Sports Network. While the members have changed, FOX still seems to be able to take the first ten games they want, then CBS Sports Network takes ten if they want them, with FOX taking the next ten.
If I were FOX, I'd look at the following five non-conference games off the top:
Purdue at Marshall (9/5)
Mississippi St. at Southern Miss (9/5)
Kansas St. at UTSA (9/12)
Miami (FL) at FAU (9/12)
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee (10/3)
To get the first two sets of games on FOX nets, one might have to air on FSN or on a different night so that it can air on FOX Sports 1. On 9/5, FS1 may only have one college football slot available if you consider the possibility of airing an MLB game & UFC prelims. The NFL season starts on 9/10 and FS1 has aired a C-USA game on the opening Thursday night of the NFL the past two years.
Because C-USA's schedule is still in process and is likely in need of rework with the closure of UAB's football program, FOX may be working with the conference to be able to cherry pick the five best conference games and strategically place them on dates where FOX can best carry them.
CBS Sports Network is in a unique position because they can choose eight games off the top from the Mountain West inventory, excluding Boise St. home games which belong to ESPN. After CBSSN claims their games, ESPN and CBSSN alternate selections until 44 games are made, 22 by each network.
So what games could CBSSN take off the top?
I believe they have to "claim" the four Boise St. road non-conference games, otherwise ESPN can choose them. After that, I believe they've claimed the Colorado at Hawai'i game that has been moved to Thursday 9/3. Pay little attention to that 7pm local start time. I'm not sure they'll be kicking off a nationally televised game at 1am eastern time, nor do I think this game ends up in Hawai'i's pay-per-view package.
With the final three games, I think CBSSN will try to claim the Arizona at Nevada (9/12), UCLA at UNLV (9/12) and Utah at Fresno St. (9/19) games. Looking over a few of the "beyond too early" top 25 rankings (then again, isn't that what this post is about TV schedules?), these three Pac-12 schools should be ranked in the top 25. Don't be surprised if at least one of them is played on a Friday night too.
While Navy is entering the American Athletic Conference in 2015, the television rights to their home games remain with CBS Sports Network. One of the unique aspects to this arrangement is that Navy, which in the past has had control of its scheduling, is now having to work with a conference office and potentially multiple TV outlets as ESPN is the main rightsholder for the conference and controls the TV rights to Navy's four conference road games.
Usually we'd have an idea when Navy's home games would be played, in terms of the dates, and now CBSSN is probably working with ESPN and the conference office to figure out what dates they'll have Navy football and how that figures in to the rest of the CBSSN schedule.
One thing I don't know is if ESPN and CBSSN will consider the possibility of "trading" Navy games, for example if there was a date on the schedule where carrying games from several agreements (Army, Mountain West, C-USA, American sublicense, Patriot League) would mean that CBSSN would consider passing a Navy home game to ESPN. CBSSN could gain access to additional Navy games through the sublicensing of American Athletic Conference games from ESPN, ie. the four Navy road conference games, through the 12 day selection process.