Maybe you recall last week how Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen threw some shade on the abundance of light-night games his team has had to play — including two 7:45 p.m. kickoffs on ESPN on consecutive Saturdays.
Maybe you missed Kirk Herbstreit on last week’s “College GameDay” trying to shed some light in an ESPN-esque sort of way.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 9, 2017
“The reality is, as an advocate on this show for the Pac-12 for the last 20 years, wanting to try to bring as much exposure to that conference as we can, you should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship thanks to Larry Scott with the Pac-12 because your games are seen.
“Before, there was a black hole when it came to the Pac-12 and now, you can actually tune into the Pac-12 and see them if you live in the ACC or the SEC or the Big Ten. So I understand (Petersen’s) point — but be careful. Would you rather be on at 3:30 on the Pac-12 Network eastern when nobody’s watching?”
That does it. Washington must now play a game on Thanksgiving Day. At 7:45 p.m. And they must appreciate it.
The reality is, every conference benefits with ESPN exposure. And Fox. And even, to some degree, Pac-12 Net. And the conference benefits from the ESPN and Fox rights fees.
What Herbstreit said is 100 percent right, and 100 percent wrong.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who went on at halftime of last Saturday night’s Washington-Cal game, called Herbstreit’s comments “unfortunate.” ESPN eventually put up a graphic — a graphic — during the game to dispute the claim that late-night games don’t draw better ratings.
When USC plays Utah at 5 p.m. Saturday, on the prime-time nationally televised game to the nation, the Pac-12 benefits. But for the conference to really capture as many benefits as possible, Washington must keep winning out, including its final regular-season game against ranked Washington State, against (perhaps) USC in the Pac-12 Conference game, and then hope things break so it belongs in the Final Four.
So … about this USC-Utah game …
If things broke right, Herbstreit and his “College GameDay” group could have made things easy on themselves and showed up at the USC campus this Saturday morning, then waited around for the kickoff.
Maybe since this game lost some bounce when both teams posted a loss over the last two weeks and fell in the Top 25, and there wasn’t any other game worthy of “GameDay” beckoning, ESPN decided to send its high-profile Saturday morning pregame show/celebration to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.
James Madison (5-0) is the top-ranked team in the FBC/non-FBS division and has a game against Villanova. Oh, and the Herbstreit-Chris Fowler team has been reassigned.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch points out, ESPN vice president of college sports and the former coordinating producer of “College GameDay” Lee Fitting is a 1996 graduate of JMU.
As a result, “GameDay” will not likely make a SoCal visit the rest of this year. It has already been to Indiana, Ohio State, Louisville, Virginia Tech and, last week, Texas Christian, as well as to Times Square in New York and Atlanta for the Alabama-Florida kickoff game.
Not that anyone’s paying attention.
So this is how Saturday plays out:
= USC vs. Utah, at the Coliseum, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 7 (Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay)
= UCLA at Arizona, Saturday at 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, Lewis Johnson)
= Washington State at Cal, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN (Adam Amin, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath)
= Colorado at Oregon State, Saturday at 1 p.m. Pac-12 Net (Ted Robinson, Yogi Roth, Jill Savage)
= Washington at Arizona State, Saturday at 7:45 p.m., ESPN (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)
= Oregon at Stanford, Saturday at 8 p.m., FS1 (Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman, Holly Sonders)
BEST OF THE REST:
= Clemson at Syracuse, 4 p.m., ESPN (Dave Lamont, Mack Brown)
= Texas Christian at Kansas State, 9 a.m., FS1 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Bruce Feldman)
= Michigan at Indiana, 9 a.m., Channel 7 (Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard)
= Texas Tech at West Virginia, 9 a.m., ESPNU (Mike Couzens, John Congemi)
= Florida State at Duke, 9 a.m., ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer)
= South Carolina at Tennessee, 9 a.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Tommy Tuberville)
= BYU at Mississippi State, 9 a.m., SEC Network (David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb)
= Purdue at Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen)
= Auburn at LSU, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson)
= Georgia Tech at Miami, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessinich)
= Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas, 12:30 p.m., ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
= Baylor at Oklahoma State, 12:30 p.m., FS1 (Justin Kutcher, Mark Helfrich and Petros Papadakis)
= Texas A&M at Florida, 4 p.m., ESPN2 (Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht)
= Arkansas at Alabama, 4:15 p.m., ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor)
= Missouri at Georgia, 4:30 p.m., SEC Net (Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers)
= Ohio State at Nebraska, 4:30 p.m., FS1 (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
= Michigan State at Minnesota, 5 p.m., Big Ten Net (Brandon Gaudin, Glen Mason)
= Boise State at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Taft)