“We don’t determine the format. We leave that to the stewards of the sport.”

This USA Today piece exploring how much influence ESPN has over the dizzying pace of conference realignment got a fair amount of attention yesterday.  There’s a little something for everyone in it, regardless of what side of the debate you line up on.  This was my favorite part:

… In lower-echelon conferences, there’s a different kind of discomfort.

Weber spent 15 years as president at San Diego State, many of them chafing at the BCS and a format that separates college football’s haves from have-nots.

Football’s six marquee leagues — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — automatically place their champions into a BCS bowl game, where the payouts to conferences of affiliated teams reach as high as $26 million-plus.

The five lower-echelon leagues in the NCAA’s bowl subdivision must hope one or two of their teams meet minimum-ranking criteria to qualify for a BCS bowl. San Diego State and the Mountain West Conference fall among the non-automatic qualifiers (or non-AQs).

That dividing line is based partly on the leagues’ and their member schools’ historical performance on the field — and partly on their attractiveness to TV.

San Diego State and others in non-AQ leagues are effectively branded as second-class, Weber says, raising the question of “the role that ESPN plays in the general positioning of your university.”

He prefers to scrap the BCS and set up a major-college football playoff to which all leagues have access, something the Mountain West has formally proposed.

Weber regards ESPN as “a co-conspirator” with the BCS in frustrating previous efforts in that regard.

He says the network fears the exorbitant rights fees a major-college football playoff could fetch and the possibility of losing such prime property to a higher-bidding rival.

Yes, we all know that everyone is dying to see much more San Diego State football.  It’s just that those bastards at the WWL are holding them back!

I haven’t noticed that ESPN has lost many sports properties that it wants lately.  Besides, to some extent, those playoff broadcast rights fees would be offset by a decline in what the WWL would have to pay for what would become less valuable regular season broadcast rights fees.  Nobody at Disney would be missing any meals over the situation.

But this isn’t about what ESPN would have to pay.  It’s really about what San Diego State thinks it should be paid because it fields a football program.  And never mind what the marketplace says about that.

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27 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

27 responses to ““We don’t determine the format. We leave that to the stewards of the sport.”

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Whatever the reason for this conference realignment the whole thing is bad for college football. Just think if you were a WV fan and had to travel to Ames and Lubbock just to see your team play. You need a plane ticket just to go see a regular season conference matchup.

  2. The Big Lebowski

    I lived in San Diego for about a year. As far as I can tell no one gives a shit about SDSU football there either.

    • Hackerdog

      Maybe that’s why they’re average about 41k per game in attendance. In the SEC, only Vandy has a lower average attendance. Ole Miss, MSU, and Kentucky all have significantly higher ticket sales than SDSU.

      That marketplace sure is a cruel mistress.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Watched the Wyoming v. SDSU replay yesterday – it was a good game. But very few fans in the stands. It’s funny, because on Saturday mornings there’s usually a pretty good crowd watching cfb games at the bars in Pacific Beach. Plenty of folks downing cold ones at 9:00 am while watching SEC or Big 10+2 games.

  3. Always Someone Else's Fault

    There’s no question that conference consolidation follows media consolidation. There’s definitely correlation there – but correlation does not equal conspiracy. As for the play-off, that one’s simple. The presidents of the largest conferences are not going to go down the same road in football that they went in basketball. In fact, I think the new conference structure will ultimately result in a revised basketball tournament, one with far more .500 SEC, ACC and Big 10 teams than small conference champions.

    So enjoy the moment, San Diego State. It’s all downhill from here.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      The basketball tournament will remain as is for a long time. The contract was renegotiated just last year and extends through 2024. The BCS schools would have a huge fight on their hands if they try to limit the access of the smaller conferences and/or try to pull out of the NCAA to form their own organization.

  4. Silver Creek Dawg

    You mentioned the WWL not losing sports properties it wants lately; I would say that Rupert Murdoch has made a decision to be a major player in the US sorts market lately.

    Fox took the UEFA Champions League and the World Cup from ESPN in the last two years and has the Big 10+2 and Pac-12 championship games. Versus and NBC kept the NHL, a contract that ESPN wanted badly. They are being challenged much more than in the past.

    • Paul

      Beat me to the punch.

      • The ATH

        I don’t really understand how Versus could outbid ESPN, but I’ll take it. Anything that means less Melrose Mullet I view as a positive.

        Same thing with Nascar. I’m glad the Corporate people affiliated with promoting that crap have finally realized that they don’t have the next “Great American Pasttime” on their hands. Still, I know I’m not the only one tuning to another channel when that skinny guy with the insulting fake southern accent starts talking about “the big race this weekend.”

        • 4.0 Point Stance

          Because Versus put all its eggs in one basket. If ESPN had really wanted the NHL contract, they’d have gotten it. But it would’ve meant giving up some other contract which they (presumably) eventually decided was more valuable than the NHL.

        • Darrron Rovelll

          Because very soon Versus will be rebranded and NBC Sports Network and Comcast was willing to pony up significantly more money than ESPN. They did not put all of their eggs in one basket, but with Mark Lazarus taking over for Dick Ebersol – Comcast is going to challenge ESPN on rights holder fees more often.

          Fox, Comcast/NBC, CBS, and even Time-Warner are going to challenge ESPN as much as possible for all available rights fees especially for the marquee properties due to ESPN’s profitability and importance to Disney’s bottom line and its influence/symbiotic relationship with all things sports.

  5. Mister Drysdale

    How many college presidents believe “the marketplace” should determine anything?

    5?

    10?

    Any?

  6. Dog in Fla

    I think they think they are “the marketplace.”

    • Cojones

      For a city the size of San Diego and it’s population, there is a large tv set marketplace. Now in fair weather , if you can get everyone to appreciate college football on tv on Sat instead of golfing, surfing, sport gliding, playing in the huge crowded city parks and Balboa Park, going to the world’s best zoo, slippin’ to Tj, going to Julian and Natl Parks in the mountains, racing dune buggies in the desert beyond, Sea World, sailing, fishing and heading a little bit north to Disneyland and other major entertainment parks…..then you have a “marketplace”.

  7. Cojones

    I have a solution to this problem.

    Break the SEC up and place two teams in each major conference plus the WAC or whatever is created. The champions will more than likely be the SEC teams and we can all play each other once a year in the bowl games. That’ll stop this equity sniveling shit.

  8. Will Trane

    Senator, your last paragraph says it all. Sorta like several years ago our local paper ran an article about a QB at Nebraska who had attended high school in the midwest. A half page article during SEC and ACC football season. Now how many articles do you think the paper in Lincoln had about a UGA QB the past half century. Or how many subscribers they had in Lincoln. Subscription cancelled. I have trouble watching those PAC 10 teams after a day with the Dawgs and SEC. But now that the SEC is into a “manifest destiny”, who knows if
    SDS could get in the picture. The only Weber I have knowldege of is the one we cook on, drink by, and discuss the Dawgs over.