You know, for all the bitching we do about the BCS and playoffs, it’s worth being reminded how popular college football continues to be. We’re hungry for it.
Exhibit “A”: spring football madness.
… While casual fans may still consider the game to be a glorified practice, die-hards consider it a welcome relief from NBA playoff games and regular-season Major League Baseball games. “People,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said this week, “are starved for football.”
Dave Brown, the ESPN vice president for programming who made the call to devote the resources and manpower to broadcast GameDay from a spring game, said spring games give his network a platform to cover big offseason stories in a sport that draws significant viewership. “The bottom line is we haven’t had any games for three months,” Brown said. “Spring football is the only time period where you will see the team and get a glimpse of what it might look like next year. It’s a little bit like an oasis in the middle of an eight-month desert.”
That’s it. Feed us! We haven’t had any games for three months.
Well, rest assured there are people out there scheming as you read this to take advantage of our needs, or to sooth our souls, depending on your point of view.
… Brown said he can envision in future years broadcasting from multiple sites during a three- or four-week period after the Final Four. Meanwhile, more schools will offer free parking and free-or-heavily-discounted admission to lure fans and turn the games into events that keep interest stoked and donations flowing through the doldrums between the BCS title game and the opening of preseason camp in August. Coaches, always on the lookout for an edge in recruiting, have found that a packed stadium on an April Saturday can offer a final chance to fire up recruits, many of whom will commit to schools before the football season begins.
In case you were wondering, Florida’s isn’t the only spring game being broadcast.
Fans who can’t make the games will get plenty of spring coverage on GameDay Saturday, and ESPNU also will broadcast Missouri’s spring game on April 19. The NFL Network will broadcast Pitt’s spring game live on April 19 with guest color commentary from Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt. The Big Ten network will provide live look-ins on eight of the conference’s spring games on April 19, and fans can watch those games in their entirety live on the network’s Web site or on tape delay on television.
When Mustache Dave and the Big Ten Network are crowding in on the action, you know you’ve got something going on.
More spring game bidness here.