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PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE PAC TEN GAME BEHIND THE CURTAIN. NOTHING TO SEE HERE...

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Update [2007-10-29 18:53:38 by SMQ]: I couldn't be happier for a post to be rendered moot so quickly:

Fox Sports Net and ESPN have agreed to distribute Saturday's game between No. 6-ranked Arizona State and No. 4-ranked Oregon at Eugene to a national audience.

Originally scheduled to be televised locally in Oregon and Arizona, the matchup of Top 10 teams will be televised to a national audience through the agreement of the two networks. FSN will air its production on FSN Arizona, FSN West and FSN Northwest in the state of Oregon. The Oregon Sports Network will distribute the game in the state of Oregon. ESPN will originate its own production to air in all other U.S. television markets not covered by the FSN telecast, including the state of Washington and Northern California. ESPN College GameDay also will originate from Eugene.
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Kudos to the twin Evil Empires of Disney and Murdoch for giving the people what they want. We will gratefully lick the blood of sweatshop children from their hands in hell.

You may still enjoy this morning's diatribe...
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The following unranked teams according to the latest BCS standings will be playing on national television or one of the major networks this weekend:

ESPN Georgia Tech vs. #11 Virginia Tech 7:45 ET Thursday
ESPN2 Nevada at Fresno State 8:00 ET Friday
ESPN Purdue at Penn State Noon ET
ESPN2 Iowa at Northwestern Noon ET
Fox Sports Nebraska vs. #8 Kansas 12:30 ET
VERSUS Kansas State at Iowa State 12:30 ET
NBC Navy at Notre Dame 2:30 ET
ABC/ESPN Cincinnati at #18 So. Florida 3:30 ET
ABC/ESPN Oklahoma State vs. #15 Texas 3:30 ET
ABC/ESPN Michigan State vs. #12 Michigan 3:30 ET
ABC/ESPN UCLA at Arizona 3:30 ET
Fox Sports Colorado vs. #9 Missouri 6:30 ET
ABC Florida State at #2 Boston College 8:00 ET
ABC Texas A&M at #6 Oklahoma 8:00 ET
ESPN or ESPN2 Oregon State at #19 USC 8:00 ET
ESPN or ESPN2 South Carolina at Arkansas 8:00 ET
Fox Sports Wash. State at California 10:00 ET

There are two games between ranked teams. One is LSU at Alabama, which can be seen nationally on CBS at 5 p.m. Eastern. The other is a top five matchup with direct implications on the Pac Ten championship, the Rose Bowl and in all likelihood the mythical championship game, Arizona State at Oregon, which can be seen...if you live in Arizona or Oregon...on Fox Sports Arizona or Fox Sports Northwest, neither of which, unless you live in Arizona or Oregon, you have probably ever heard. Otherwise, you can order the game on pay-per-view through ESPN Gameplan.

This wouldn’t be a big deal in 1974, when there was no such thing as cable and basically no way viewers couldn’t miss the biggest game of the weekend – and, based on the records, rankings and potential implications here, one of the three or four biggest games of the season – if it wasn’t in their particular region. Cable TV more than anything else has made the sport a truly national game over the last two decades, has found a way to get the best teams and best games in front of consumers, yet still finds itself in a situation that somehow gives us the three mediocre, of-regional-interest-only Pac Ten games highlighted above instead of the one that might draw and hold a national audience. Which will instead be watching USC and Oregon State jockeying for Sun Bowl position.


Dennis Erickson wants you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
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I understand these things are worked out well in advance, when it’s assumed that USC and Cal and possibly even UCLA – to draw the L.A. market if nothing else – are the marquee teams. But on this point, Oregon partisan Dave from Addicted to Quack is right, as many Pac Ten fans have been on this subject: the conference’s TV package is a travesty. Outside of FSN, which is frankly second rate, airs games past midnight in the East and still puts priority on regional coverage (sometimes preempting games at bizarre times) because it draws almost no games of national interest, the Pac Ten has had six games on national television this year: Tennessee at Cal, Oregon at Michigan, USC at Nebraska, USC at Washington, Washington State at USC, USC at Notre Dame. Dramatic barnburners none, and good teams from Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State are nowhere to be found. They’re all likely to win eight games, yet remain a mystery to most of the country. This will never happen to the SEC or Big Ten, each of which gets about half its conference to a national audience on a weekly basis. Hell, Southern Miss has played on ESPN four times in the last five weeks – people who pay attention are no doubt more familiar right now with pick-throwin maestro Stephen Reaves than they are with Rudy Carpenter. (I feel for these people, and, I hope, they for me)

Dave is also right that this isn’t only a matter of getting consumers the best games, but getting voters the teams they’re casting ballots on. This is, unfortunately, still a sport that makes postseason decisions based on prestige, and more than voters simply not being able to watch the Pac Ten’s contenders very often (or, in Arizona State’s case, at all), it’s simply not prestigious to play all of your games on Fox Sports or one of its regional sentinels. The biggest games have always been on the networks or, these days, at least ESPN, for everyone to watch. These games are shown in press boxes, where writers can pay some attention (and they do). Everything else is extraneous, a luxury for the diehard fan who can’t miss his mediocre team or doesn’t mind watching the chaffe, as long as it’s football. But these games don’t matter in the national picture, they’re just scores, grist for the mill when it comes time to submit the ballot. The real contenders, you don’t have to guess or search for them – networks clambor to put them in front of any set of eyes that care to see. How many voters subscribe to ESPN Gameplan? How many of them give a second thought to any of the games on it?

It will help this week that Gameday is going to be on hand at Autzen, so it will be that much harder to ignore. There’s still no reason anyone who might be interested should have an excuse for ignoring one of the games of the year to begin with.