Episode 12: Let's talk about TV and beer
Because, well, it's May, and that seems to be what the college football world is discussing these days
Good morning! We’re now tangibly closer to college football. The Week 0 (or whatever we’re calling it) schedule is slightly less ambiguous and amorphic than it was say, last week.
We now know when some stuff is gonna be on TV.
We have some TV times now! And…they’re mostly good?
ESPN, Fox, CBS Sports, the NFL Network, and just about everybody else released TV times for at least the beginning of the college football season.
If you want to watch the first possible D1 football game you can, Villanova will face Colgate at noon eastern on the CBS Sports Network. But in case you forgot, we have the rare treat of an actually important game kicking off the season, as Florida and Miami will play at 7 PM that night.
Looking at how the windows are set up over the first few weeks…I actually think things are laid out in a way that benefits consumers more than it used to. On paper, there’s at least one good game worth watching in every time slot, from Thursday night through Week 2. That’s not always the case!
Fox has changed up their programming strategy a little bit, making no bones about wanting to put their best games at noon, rather than prime time. That helps Fox avoid conflicts with stuff like the MLB playoffs, and gives fans a better chance at watching an interesting game in all three major time slots.
TV times are a tricky issue for almost every fanbase. As a fan who lives far from Columbus, I kind of enjoy having Ohio State on at noon (and seeing as they’re one of the five single most valuable TV entities in college football, Fox is gonna put them on at noon a lot), but an Ohio State staffer, hoping for a more electric environment for recruiting, might feel differently. An AD at Wyoming or Arizona might hate late kickoffs, since that makes travel more difficult for fans, but a TV executive at ESPN will feel differently.
The NFL Network also released the slate of Conference USA games they are broadcasting this season. Who knows what the standings look like in November (Conference USA might have the most balanced conference race in the country), but there are a few potentially interesting games there in September. Good news if you’re a Southern Miss fan who hates watching games on Facebook.
I have no idea what’s going to be a good game in Week 4 or whatever, but those first few weeks, especially the first weekend, looks pretty well spaced out if you want to watch as much interesting football as possible.
The SEC considers selling beer at football games. Lol, like anybody would want to drink a beer and watch football.
I’ll just throw this out there. This whole issue is a blind spot for me, and it’s entirely possible I’m completely wrong about all of it. I rarely watch college football games in the stands at this point (I’m working, so I’m either in a press box or at home), and I don’t drink. And even if I did, I’m opposed to spending like, eight bucks on a beverage completely out of principle.
But selling alcohol at college football games does not seem like that big of a deal. Folks are smuggling booze in the building anyway. Plenty of big schools have tried it out (over 50, to be exact), made a little bit of money, and anarchy did not reign. Or at least, not any more than it normally does.
But SEC schools aren’t on the bandwagon yet. Conference bylaws prohibit them from selling booze in general seating areas. That will probably change since they’re discussing the issue during their conference meetings right now.
In the meantime, Georgia has a plan to sell alcohol in one very specific part of the stadium. Sure, they’ll sell you a beer. But you have to be in something called the Magill Society. Via the AJC:
To be a member of the Magill Society, one must agree to donate at least $25,000 to the UGA Athletic Association over a five-year period. The Magill members must consume the alcohol in the designated area and cannot carry it back to their seats. They’ll be unable to view the game from the serving area.
So a service to donors who give a crapton of money, you get the privilege of getting booze, that you can’t take with you or watch the game while you’re drinking it?
Again, I’m just a dumb teetotaler…but that sounds…really stupid?
I know that alcohol sales are being floated as a way to improve the fan experience enough to combat declining attendance, but if you’re going to make folks jump through a gazillion hoops to get a $9 Bud Light, is that really going to move the needle that much?
Some sort of limited alcohol sale is a nice way to make a little extra scratch. If you can secure some sponsorship opportunities from an alcohol company, maybe you make more than a little extra scratch. But anybody hoping it change attendance dynamics in a meaningful way is probably going to be disappointed.
And hey, a few older Extra Points stories are in the news again, from DIII trouble to more hollerin’ about UCF
Remember how I talked a few days ago about how changing enrollment trends and demographics could pose a threat to some college football teams? Well, Bloomberg just posted a story on Thursday about The Coming College Enrollment Bust, citing some of that same data.
Sports aren’t mentioned here, but the TL;DR is a falling birth rate, a decline in the number of high school graduates, population shifts away from the Midwest and East Coast, and the increasing cost of higher education, could all spell big problems for smaller, liberal arts kinds of colleges. That probably doesn’t include anybody in FBS, and maybe only a tiny number of schools in D1. But it sure does include a lot of DIII or NAIA programs. Some programs getting dropped, and maybe even schools closing, seems like a reasonable bet over the next decade.
Also, USF and UCF fans are welcome to continue this offseason’s dumbest college football fight, but there’s one important person who’s come out and approved of USF’s scheduling maneuvers. Mike Aresco, the commissioner of the American Athletic.
“I thought what he’s done with his scheduling, his two-for-ones, has been terrific,” Aresco said in a phone interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
“I love having Alabama in his building. I love having Miami and Florida. We’re the only conference that has those three teams to one of our buildings. I think it’s great for them, it’s a coup for them.”
He’s right, of course.
My old buddy Chris Vannini at The Athletic talked to both schools about scheduling. It would appear USF AD Michael Kelly was as surprised as I was about the onslaught of fans being very #mad #online.
“Seeing and reading different things from the fans — not the administration — I was surprised it was that meaningful,” Kelly said Wednesday at the AAC meetings about the schedule reaction. “I didn’t anticipate that.”
I mean, same! But I’m still getting used to UCF Twitter as well.
I don’t agree with Aresco on a lot of things, but I think his #take here about the AAC and scheduling is just about right.
“The vast majority of our members are open to two-for-ones,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “Danny is still resisting. He still has an issue with it. … As commissioner, I’ve applauded the two-for-ones with the marquee teams. There are teams in the middle that, no, why would you do that? But if you’re ever going to get the Alabamas or the Floridas or the Michigans or USCs, you’re not going to get unless you do a two-for-one. You just have to be realistic.
“I think Danny’s right. On principle, I couldn’t agree with him more. We think we’re a P6 conference. We think we’ve earned it. We’d love to be able to do one-and-ones, but we have to be realistic. Bobby Bowden played buy games for years, five straight games at LSU, played Michigan up there, did others. He did that to build up Florida State from nothing. My feeling is, to be the best, you have to beat the best. We have to play them, and not just once on New Year’s Day. We need to play them.”
It would be nice for college football to be meritocratic, but nothing about the economics, legislative system…or anything, really is. I get the impulse to scream at the system until it changes, and maybe if I worked for UCF athletics, I’d do the same thing. And when UCF talks about needing to really grow their season ticket revenue, and building an on-campus brand…that all makes sense too. Everybody has different needs.
But if you want to get Alabama in your building, or if you want to really grow your stature of a program, you gotta swallow the lousy scheduling terms to get the big boys on the schedule.
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