Update [2007-10-29 20:24:11 by Dave]: : A last minute deal was announced today. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. But don't think that this issue is over. The underlying issues are still a big problem, and aren't going away anytime soon.
The biggest game in the country will take place in Eugene this weekend. A clash of the titans. #4 vs. #6--in November, no less. There will be not just conference championship--but national championship implications. On one side you will see a legitimate Heisman trophy contender lead the nation's number two offense. On the other, you will see a surprise undefeated, led by one of the nation's star coaches, who have been, thus far one of the most balaced teams in the country. The winner controls their own destiny for the Rose Bowl, and has a legitimate shot to play in New Orleans. College GameDay will be there. It is the kind of late season game that college football fans dream of.
Its such a shame that they won't be able to see it.
That's right football fans, there will be no national coverage of the game. Unless you are one of the lucky few who get Comcast SportsNet Northwest or Fox Sports Arizona, you will not be seeing this game.
That's right, the geniuses at Pac-10 headquarters have an awesome national slate for you instead. On ABC, you can see Oregon State take on USC. For the Fox Sports national game, you will see a pathetic Washington State team take on a taking Cal team. The two best teams in the conference? The BCS contenders? The national title contenders? Nowhere to be found.
You see, ABC and Fox Sports chose their matchups for this weekend before the season started, when they thought that SC and Cal would be the leagues best teams. No problem, right? Surely in a circumstance like this, one that is clearly in the best interest of the league, one of these games could be switched? Nope. Because these schools "have already been promised TV money, and it wouldn't be fair to not give them that." So the Pac-10 is not going to give fans the best possible product.
What's worse? Polls and Heisman awards are all about exposure. Bigger names, names that are seen more get more votes in the polls. Heismans are won on moments. When a player steps up in a big game for the whole world to see.
Its a big game, but no one will see.
What makes this whole thing ridiculous is what's riding on it. The lack of exposure could cost Dennis Dixon a Heisman Trophy. Even worse: it could cost Arizona State or Oregon a national championship.
The Pac-10's TV contract is beyond bad. There are two, or if we are lucky, three "national" games. One is the ABC game. That will be shown regionally. One or two will be on Fox Sports, like last week's USC game. Those are often pre-empted in many markets for local baseball, basketball, and hockey. Occasionally, we will have a "national" game on Versus. Who the hell gets Versus?
Why do we have Fox Sports over ESPN? Especially when ESPN has several networks, that can allow for multiple games from the same conference on at the same time IN EVERY CABLE AND SATELLITE HOUSEHOLD IN THE NATION? Becuase Fox Sports will show more volleyball and softball, that's why. Yes, that is seriously the reason that the Pac-10 gives--volleyball and freaking softball.
If that's not bad enough, a lot of game aren't even shown locally. See, the Pac-10 has "exclusivity." Meaning that if a "national" game is on (and, for reasons stated above, the "national" is highly dubious), no other Pac-10 games can be shown at that time, not even in the town of the college. Even though Oregon does a broadcast for all its games, we had to see the Stanford and Washington State games on tape delay due to this ridiculous rule.
We are the Conference of Champions. We are the top all around athletic conference in the nation. We encompass more major television markets than any conference in America.
Yet, the WAC has a better TV contract.
The leadership in charge of this conference is a total joke. There is a reason that East Coast Bias exists--and its because nobody east of Arizona ever sees our games. It is beyond time for the current regime to go. I don't know how a woefully inadequate Tom Hansen has managed to keep his job for so long, but yesterday is not soon enough to fire him. We need somebody with vision. Somebody who will not let our great conference struggle for even adequate regional coverage.
Sadly, that isn't going to happen. And it could cost us big.