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.