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Stadium and Main: 6 Weeks Left

Saturday, July 19, 2008

6 Weeks Left

The Truth is Out There

Did LSU schedule Appalachian State to “get back” at Michigan for the Les Miles fiasco? The game was announced in early February, and there wasn't much talk about it, maybe partially because LSU and Appalachian State have played once before (2005), so it didn't seem too fishy. But maybe there's more to the story that we don't know? I was recently looking at some TV listing for the upcoming season, and noticed that the game is on ESPN. I know that in the recent past, ESPN has contacted schools and said “we can put you on TV if you play Team X on Date Y.” Seeing that this game involves the three-ring circus of Les Miles, Appalachian State, and Michigan (all intertwined in history, in a transitive way), I figured that ESPN’s marketing team made the first call and set up the match-up. But in the NOLA article linked above, and in this ESPN release, there is no mention of the game being on ESPN (or any ESPN network). According to this article, the LSU folks initially expected the game to go untelevised, until ESPN came in later and asked to televise it, moving it from a night game to a late afternoon start. Considering that all major programs want exposure, exposure, exposure(!), one could speculate that LSU was willing to open its season untelevised just to rub it in the face of the Wolverines. Or maybe there just weren't any other opponents available. Either way, somebody call Mulder.

Final Image?

If you have a copy of The Wolverine’s 2008 Football Preview, turn to page 237. See that shirtless white dude in the far background… away from the team, at his locker, turning to look back while everybody celebrates with Lloyd? Is that Ryan Mallett? I think it is. If so, it’s a fitting image, and resembles what a lot of insiders said about Mallett: quite the character on the field (he was celebrating with Lloyd and animated on the sidelines during the bowl game), but maybe not the most liked or respected guy in the locker room. If that isn't him, then somebody needs to figure out who Mr. Lonely is.

Process of Elimination: MSU at 3:30

The MSU game seems as close to a lock for a 3:30 start as possible, because the other Big Ten kickoff times for that date have been announced:

Illinois @ Wisconsin: Noon – BTN, ESPN or ESPN2
Northwestern @ Indiana: Noon – BTN, ESPN or ESPN2
Minnesota @ Purdue: Noon – BTN, ESPN or ESPN2
Penn State @ Ohio State: 8 p.m. – ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Iowa: Bye
Michigan State @ Michigan: TBA

The most prominent slot missing? 3:30 on ABC, which is where one would expect Michigan-MSU to go. Ultra-intense speculation/breakdown follows:

Maybe there’s an super-small chance that if both Michigan and MSU absolutely stink, the game will be given a Noon start on BTN, ESPN, or ESPN2, but that would mean no Big Ten 3:30 game on ABC – and I don’t think that’s ever happened, or is even allowed to happen since it probably violates the Big Ten’s contract with ABC/ESPN. Additionally, I’m thinking that the MSU game won’t be on BTN, unless that’s one of the weeks that they have the second pick. And seeing that the BTN hasn’t announced that it has the rights to MSU @ Michigan or Illinois @ Wisconsin, I’m guessing that BTN has 3rd or 4th pick on October 25th. I’d assume the BTN would want to promote their ownership of a game like UM-MSU, and if they had “second pick” they could start doing so now since ABC/ESPN has already claimed ownership of PSU-OSU. Even though Comcast has a deal with the BTN now, the BTN would still want to put pressure on Charter and other Michigan cable companies, and that would be a great way to do it (remember the hysteria when it was thought that Michigan-MSU might be on BTN last season?).

The guess here is that ABC wants, and will televise, Michigan-MSU, and BTN is aware of this, but nothing can be officially announced until a later date due to some random contract clause (i.e. “ABC/ESPN may select and announce X number of games before July 31, each year, but cannot select or announce additional games until the 6 to 12 day window kicks in”). In short, ABC knows what it’s getting, they just (a) can’t announce it, and/or (b) have virtually no incentive to announce it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No conspiracy here. Appalachian was originally supposed to open the 2007 season in Baton Rouge. That game then got moved to 2009. Then it was moved back to 2008 this season. So I don't think it was setup by the Miles-Michigan-Moore Triangle. Just a coincidence of events.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Cool. Thanks for the info - that makes sense.

1:15 PM  

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