Good morning! Thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? I have not, because small children have broken my brain to the point where I am incapable of planning anything in advance.
If you’re like me, and haven’t finished, I have two gift ideas for you!
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Do you want another idea? How about a college football alternate history book? I wrote one! My book, What If?, examines questions like, “What if the Airplane Conference happened?”, or “What if Michigan never re-joined the Big Ten?” and a bunch of other questions. Readers of this newsletter would probably enjoy it! You can find it on Amazon.
Okay. Enough selling out. How about we talk about some college football news?
Pac-12 #WellBeforeDark will reportedly happen….eventually
Earlier this summer, the Pac-12 openly floated the idea of playing some games in the noon ET window, which would mean a kickoff at 9 or 10 am local. The move would almost certainly be unpopular with fans who actually go to the games, but it’d be a great boon for the TV exposure of the league, especially after the success of Fox’s Big Noon Saturday campaign, putting some of their biggest games on noon, rather than prime time.
According to John Ourand of SBJ’s newsletter ($), that’s not happening next year, but it will happen in the near future:
- “Several” Pac-12 schools have contacted Fox Sports about hosting a college football game in the noon ET window on Saturday in future seasons, Fox Sports President Mark Silverman said. Silverman would not identify the specific schools, but he said that interest from schools and the conference is so high that he expects it to happen in the next two or, maybe, three years…the idea is to create a one-off event, like the NHL Winter Classic, that fans would get behind.
A few Pac-12 teams are hosting pretty high profile out of conference games in 2020, like Michigan at Washington, Ohio State at Oregon, and Notre Dame at USC. The pickings are more slim in 2021 and 2022, but if the Pac-12 really wanted to plant their flag on a big game and make something special, some possible candidates might include:
Arizona vs BYU in Las Vegas (9/2/21)
LSU at UCLA (9/4/21)
Texas A&M at Colorado (9/11/21)
Boise State at Washington State (9/3/22)
The new Raiders stadium will be finished late next summer, giving the West a location for huge out of conference games, similar to what Atlanta and Dallas have. Don’t be surprised if more games featuring Pac-12 opponents are either moved there, or scheduled there, in the near future, and perhaps some of them could be moved to fit into a noon window. I know there are plenty of rumors that BYU will face Notre Dame in Vegas sometime in the next decade, and I imagine USC and/or Arizona State will make future appearances.
I don’t really love the idea of forcing Pac-12 schools into an early morning local kick for the sake of TV, but I understand why a school might pursue it. A kickoff at 9 AM probably means one less late night kickoff that season, and maybe if you don’t do it very often, the school can promote it as some sort of special event and get folks to buy into it. If I *had* to do it, I’d probably try to make it a conference game in the Mountain Time Zone instead, to help get eyeballs on Utah or Colorado, instead of say, an LSU game that America is gonna watch no matter what….but I am just a humble blogger.
The push/pull of TV is a particularly tricky problem in the west, where fans are asked to make pretty big sacrifices in the name of maximizing revenue and “exposure”. Maybe they’ll prefer it this way. Maybe Larry Scott and the league CEOs won’t care, as long as the TV numbers are good.
Set your alarms, I guess.
Could the Big Ten title game be on the move?
The Big Ten basketball tournament has moved all over the Big Ten footprint, from Indy to Chicago, to Washington D.C and New York City. The sojourns to the east made a lot of traditionalists angry, and wouldn’t you know it, there were plenty of empty seats.
The football championship, on the other hand, has remained in Indianapolis. I realize that Indy usually doesn’t crack the top five list of popular tourist destinations, but I’ve only rarely heard complaints about the venue. Lucas Oil is a perfectly fine pro football stadium, there’s plenty of places to eat and drink nearby, and Indy isn’t too bad a drive from Columbus, Chicago or Detroit.
The city isn’t taking the event for granted, though. Per WISHTV:
The Indiana Sports Corp. (ISC) estimates the weekend has a $19.5 million economic impact on the region’s economy, but as Indy looks to lock in games beyond 2021, when its current contract with the Big Ten Conference expires, it will have some company.
“Certainly Detroit and Minneapolis we know for a fact will be enthusiastic about bidding on this opportunity,” said ISC President Ryan Vaughn. “We don’t take it for granted, we intend to compete very hard and keep it here permanently.”
Now, I can’t speak to the validity of any economic impact numbers. The idea that Minneapolis and Detroit might bid on the game is interesting, to me.
Once you find a successful conference championship game venue, I’m not sure there’s a great need to rotate it. The SEC has something that works. The ACC’s location seems fine enough. The Pac-12’s isn’t working, and lo and behold, it’s moving.
The tricky thing about the Big Ten is that, no matter what internet tough guys may say, this game really needs to be played indoors. That takes Chicago, the cultural capital of the conference (and even more importantly, where I live), off the board. It also removes about major Eastern city from consideration, which is probably for the best. You don’t need to program your championship locations to make things easier for Rutgers fans.
I don’t have a super strong opinion as to whether Minneapolis or Indianapolis is a superior venue. I just hope that any bids don’t require shakedowns from taxpayers or anything. Two nights of jacked up Holiday Inn rates and heightened drink sales shouldn’t warrant any non-football fan resident paying an extra dime in anything, in my humble opinion.
Hey let’s check in on UConn for a second
It would’t be Extra Points if we didn’t spend some real estate on the most woebegone of FBS programs, right?
Now an independent, UConn found that the schedule assembly business, even on short notice, wasn’t so tough a challenge. Thanks to a bevy of local opponents, a potentially growing number of fellow independents, and plenty of teams looking for a bodybag game, finding games to play wasn’t too bad. In 2020, UConn faces five P5 opponents, two local opponents, and only one FCS team. They’re off to decent starts in 2021 and 2022 as well.
All the other stuff? Well, that’s harder. Like having a good football coach, for example. Not a great sign if you’re getting the ol’ Vote of Confidence after year two, right? Via the Courant:
UConn athletic director David Benedict once again expressed confidence in football coach Randy Edsall on Sunday, despite a wave of transfers out of the program and vocal criticism from some former players.
“Randy’s the right guy,” Benedict said. “I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program. You can’t do it in three years.”
“I believe Randy has got to have five recruiting classes before you can truly evaluate his program,” the athletic director said, indicating Edsall has relative job security through at least the 2021 season
Of course, UConn isn’t just losing football games. They’re losing a ton of players, as 15 players have indicated a desire to transfer.
Most of those players were recruited by former UConn head coach Bob Diaco, and some level of attrition should have been expected, because 1) UConn sucked and 2) UConn left the AAC. But allegations of cultural insensitivity from the coaching staff made by former players should be alarming. And even if everything Edsall has done is above board, losing 15 players to transfers will make it much harder for UConn to field 85 scholarship players in the future. You can’t plug all of those holes with transfers of your own, after all.
This is just my guess here, but I don’t think Edsall is likely to coach UConn to a bowl game in the near future. Part of that is his fault, and part of that isn’t…this is a very hard job that just got harder, as recruiting to an independent schedule is a real challenge.
But I also suspect UConn simply wouldn’t be able to attract a good replacement if they cut the cord right now. Maybe in two years, after they’ve had a chance to recoup some money after the Big East move, and after they better understand what life as an independent will be like, this could be a more attractive gig. But for now, even if it isn’t the right fit, I think both sides are kind of stuck with each other.
One thing that will probably help UConn is figuring out what their TV situation is going to be
Benedict said UConn had not yet reached an agreement on a football television deal.
“Still working on it," Benedict said. "Nothing to announce at this point in time. But I’m very confident we’ll wind up in a place where we’ll have linear TV.”
Folks who follow UConn closely have told me they expect the school to eventually reach an agreement with SNY, which would probably be an improvement (both financially, and in terms of product quality) over Flosports, which UMass uses. But I imagine the school, and the fans, will feel a little better once such an arrangement is official, along with a bowl agreement.
Given where UConn football is right now, is a bowl agreement probably just an intellectual exercise? Yeah, probably. But it’s good to not have to think about those little details. That’s part of what makes life as an independent difficult.
But as a fan, you don’t want to worry about how to find your game on TV, or whether you’ll get an invite to the Cure Bowl, or if your game might kick off at 9 AM local to appease the TV Gods.
You just want to worry about the game.
But not every program gets that luxury. At least, not right now.
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Questions, comments, concerns, mailbag questions or Big Ten Championship Game bids should be sent to Matt.Brown@SBNation.com, or @MattSBN on Twitter dot com.