Friday, December 16, 2016

Early 2017 CFB Scheduling Roundup

Some of this stuff is new.  Some of it isn't:

* Personal one from me: I appeared on the Everything But the Scoreboard podcast this week, touching on a few college sports related items.   Have a listen & check out their other episodes.

* From Bay Area News Group writer Jon Wilner, reporting on the 2017 Pac-12 football game in Australia, except it doesn't quite belong to the Pac-12.
By noting that it is a C-USA home game, ESPN will have first crack at it as they get the opportunity to select a handful of C-USA games first, around five games.  After that, CBS Sports Network would have a chance at it.  In a separate tweet, Jon notes that the game would be played the weekend before Labor Day weekend, which is allowed when schools play a game outside the 48 contiguous states, which includes schools playing at Hawai'i.

* Jon also happened to note that the Pac-12 schedule for 2017 should appear in mid-January.  The conference used to wait until after the Rose Bowl to release the upcoming season's schedule and with Washington in the playoff, they may want to wait until after the Huskies' season is finished.

Since we're through five years of scheduling under the current TV setup with ESPN, FOX Sports and Pac-12 Networks, something to look at is the number of times each school has hosted a game on ESPN or FOX Sports on a weeknight, including Black Friday and not including the conference championship game when its been held on Fridays and when it was played at school sites:

Arizona: 4
Arizona St.: 4
California: 4@
Colorado: 6#
Oregon: 3
Oregon St.: 3
Stanford: 4
Washington: 4
Washington St.: 4
USC: 4
Utah: 6

@Cal's game vs. Hawai'i in Australia was played on Saturday in Australia, which translated into Friday night in the US.  Their home game vs. Oregon in 2014 was played at Levis Stadium, so only two of their weeknight games have been played at their home stadium.

#Two of Colorado's games were vs. Colorado St. and played in Denver.

I would think that Oregon, Oregon St. and UCLA would be earmarked for a Thursday or Friday game on ESPN or FOX Sports, and maybe Cal depending on how you count their weeknight games.  Otherwise, there's a relatively even distribution with Utah and Colorado being outliers.

The reason I left out games on the Pac-12 Networks is because those games are usually set for weeknights due to scheduling conflicts on the group of networks, though it can also be attributed to the preference of the school.  Two places to look for the potential of weeknight games are 9/2 and 9/9 when both Arizona schools are at home and have a strong preference for night games in September.  Can't put them both at night on Pac-12 Networks when the national & Arizona feeds would be carrying a single game, so if ESPN or FOX doesn't pick up one of the games on both dates, a game could end up being moved to Thursday or Friday.

* 65 games will be part of the Big 12's TV package in 2017, not including the conference championship game.  ESPN will have 23, the schools each get a game (10) and FOX Sports will have 32.  Starting with 10/14/17, each week will have five conference games with the potential for a few games to move to Thursday nights to provide some flexibility for ESPN and FOX.  Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News notes the following:
* Ohio St. at Indiana, which I thought might be a candidate for one of the Big Ten Friday night games on ESPN or FOX, has been moved to Thursday 8/31.  My assumption is that one of those two TV partners requested this change as well as they have commitments outside of college football that take up programming space over Labor Day weekend, such as ESPN2 with the US Open and FOX and/or FS1 with MLB, NASCAR Truck Series, NHRA and possibly UFC.

Would this one end up on BTN?  Not likely in my opinion, unless it is run concurrently on BTN with Buffalo at Minnesota, which is also set for that night & I believe will be aired on BTN.

* Something to consider on the two Big Ten Friday night games on September 1st: Both Mexico and the US are hosting World Cup qualifiers that day.  FOX Sports is Mexico's English language rightsholder in the US with many of their games on FS1, and ESPN and FOX split the US men's national team home games.