BCS to ESPN? What it means

ESPN is negotiating to become the new television home of all BCS bowl games and the national championship game. The cable sports giant has put an offer on the table after Fox’s exclusive negotiating period ended, and speculation is that the offer will be larger than Fox is willing to match.

What’s it mean? Well, for starters it takes established bowl games like the Rose Bowl — on ABC for the past two decades — off of broadcast television. I assume that the networks would still cover the bowl parades as always.

But it also means that the BCS format itself will be etched in stone — or at least an iron-clad contract — until 2015.

And I wonder if you’ll hear far less clamoring from a playoff from ESPN and its affiliates. Or, perhaps, have the network push for a playoff when the time comes. But don’t hold your breath.

Regardless, this is yet another wall being built between college football and a playoff, a wall that college presidents seem all too eager to build. In fact, after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama mentioned that he’d like to see a college playoff on Monday Night Football last week, the BCS powers shot back this week. Note the following statements from Oregon president David Frohnmayer, chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, provided to ESPN.com’s Joe Schad:

“We deeply respect the president-elect and we are glad that he is a fan of college football,” Frohnmayer said in an e-mail response to ESPN Tuesday. “We have the most compelling regular season in all of sports, and I’m sure that contributes to Senator Obama’s enjoyment of our great game.”

“My colleagues and I on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee have discussed the future of postseason football on many occasions and we do not believe a playoff would be in the best interest of the sport, the student-athletes or our many other constituencies.”

What Frohnmayer didn’t add, was that a playoff might also make it more difficult for the six power conferences to keep the NCAA from meddling in the football postseason. It also would not be in the best interest of the power conferences’ bottom lines.

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5 thoughts on “BCS to ESPN? What it means

  1. Since ABC and ESPN are owned by the same company, would the BCS games just return to ABC like they were before Fox got them? And, if not, wouldn’t ESPN have to ditch a lot of the bowl games they cover?

  2. Yeah, ESPN and ABC are owned by the same company. You’d think they’d put them on ABC for bigger ratings. There are still some people who don’t have satellite or cable.

  3. I think you might see that arrangement for the Rose Bowl. But I don’t think you’d see it for most of the games, and the championship games. ESPN is about getting people to pay for ESPN, after all.

  4. I don’t buy the argument that the regular season is more compelling because of the BCS. There are 120 D-1 football teams. It’s still going to be compelling to see which 8 teams qualify for a playoff spot, particularly if a non-BCS school is able to fight its way into the picture. And the postseason will be much more compelling than it is now. If you want to make college football more exciting overall, go to a playoff system. There are numerous viable scenarios to make it happen.

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