With the opening weekend in the 2012 college football season in the books, let's take a look at some of the media storylines with a recap of Week 1 including things you likely saw and things you may have missed.
Brent Gets Bleeped
During the ABC primetime opener, Brent Musburger was silenced by the powers that be mid-sentence during a stand up shot in the booth and Kirk Herbstreit broke out like he was having Lee Corso flashbacks. We all wondered what could possibly have been said for Brent to get bleeped as lip readers made their best guesses. Turns out his Freudian slip was saying "piss" instead of "pick." After so much build, it was a bit of a letdown to only discover how sensitive and quick-triggered ABC's censoring watchdog was.
This year's game was the second straight year of a top ten matchup and ESPN did a solid job promoting the game as if it was on par with a major bowl. My feeling heading into the game is that it felt like a big game I wanted my school to play in soon.
But looking at some of the less sexy matchups of the past like TCU vs. Oregon State and BYU vs. Oklahoma, you'd think that the last two games were a trend of the Cowboys Classic becoming this marquee game every year. However looking at what's on the horizon in Notre Dame vs. Arizona State (zzzzz) and Texas vs. UCLA (yawn), it's hard to imagine the Cowboys Classic keeping it's short lived status as the BCS kingmaker like it has been the last two years.
Empty seats and low ratings are far more likely.
A Bumpy Debut For Fox
Saturday was supposed to be a big day for Fox as regular season games would debut on the broadcast network in addition to their pre game show featuring Erin Andrews. But it wasn't to be.
Andrews tweeted throughout the day how excited she was for her debut, but in the end the Fox baseball game of the week lasted longer than 3 hours and nixed the debut. In fact, it came dangerously close to actually cutting into the start of the football game which I believe would have moved to FX.
Things didn't get any better as in the first 3 minutes I watched the Fox broadcast. First up is this awful question from Julie Alexandria which is so laughably bad that Lane Kiffin almost busts up over the absurdity of the question.
What type of answer could that even solicit that would be interesting. "Well we're only calling plays today where our players cannot get hurt," or "We have come up with a revolutionary new type of padding made of Flubber that allows us to play football and not get hurt."
And what about these keys to the game that read more like ancient proverbs...
As much as I love Friday Night Lights, I don't know if that qualifies as a key to the game. Relentless Patience? Does that make sense? I watched USC's first play (where they scored a long passing TD) and quipped "Where was the patience!" which was answered with "Nah, that's the relentless part."
If you are among our dozen or so readers who root for Texas AND have ATT Uverse, well congratulations as you now have the Longhorn Network and can enjoy 2-3 crappy football games a year. ESPN is still bleeding money on this deal, but this gives them a start and some more leverage going forward. If you're a Texas fan without Uverse and are hoping to catch the game at a local pub who does, the irony here is that commercial establishments with Uverse don't have access to the channel.
Big Ten Network Dish Dispute
I was pretty confident Dish wouldn't pull BTN, but they played it out to the bitter end. They haven't reached a long term deal but it looks as if the crisis has been averted for now.
I liken trusting Dish for your preferred content to flying Southwest where you get no meal and could get stuck with a middle seat. There's just too much of a gamble going the no frills route.
Pac 12 Network Stagnation
There was some optimism the Pac 12 Networks would sprint out of the gate as dominos would fall in their favor on the distribution front. The biggest domino being DirectTV.
Unfortunately, despite rumors that a deal is very close, that doesn't seem to be the case as of now. Worst yet, I think both sides have decided to walk away from the table hoping the other side will cave in first.
The Pac 12 assumed they could get a deal with DTV done, which would in turn put pressure on other national providers to carry the channel. Even the companies that do have deals to carry the channel (Comcast and Time Warner) are limiting the distribution of the channel to mainly the West Coast knowing that without DirectTV or Dish having deals in place, pissed off fans outside of the West Coast don't really have a viable option to switch to.
With everyone in a holding pattern, the network launched with an underwhelming 12 million households, although I could see that number jumping to as high as 50 million if the cards fall the right ways in the weeks and months to come.
If I had to guess what the delay is with DirectTV, it's that they were prepared for a shitstorm of people requesting the channel and saying they'd switch providers if they didn't carry the channel. That shitstorm never really came in full force, leading to them reassess if carrying the channel was 100% necessary.
None of the top 25 college football television markets are in Pac 12 states and generally speaking, Pac 12 fans aren't exactly known for having the same type of zeal for the sport as the Midwest and the South. While the channel is significant enough and broad enough to warrant much larger distribution, this could be something we see resolved in 2013 and not 2012.
If you recall, Big Ten Network took a full year before distribution found solid footing. I think it is unlikely we'll see that type of scenario but until DirectTV or Dish get on board, it's going to be hard to move the needle anywhere else.
You couldn't escape the chatter about her new superstar status at ESPN. Erin Andrews will be missed, but it seems college football fans have found a new infatuation to focus on in her replacement.
It's a shame that nobody really rises early enough to catch Gameday on the west coast. Gameday is among the elite sports shows around and has been some time. I find it tragic every Saturday morning that I reset my alarm not opting to watch at 6:30 am. One of these days...
College Gameday is also no longer available in Canada. TheScore and TSN used to show the pregame show in its entirity but apparently have dropped it
Can't believed you skipped the debut of SoonerVision.
My big question on some of these new channels like the LHN and Pac-12 Network is what a reasonable timeframe is for them achieving wider distribution? The party line is that gaining carriage takes time, but does the "value proposition" for the carriers really ever change that much? Looking at the LHN, for instance, I'm not sure if a deal with Uverse is going to be the big domino that causes other carriers to fall. If having three live football games isn't enough to entice bigger carriers such as DirecTV and TWC this year, what more can ESPN do to gain carriage year from now? (Aside from cutting the price.)