December 05, 2011
The last 16 or so hours have seen people across the country discussing the inherent issues facing the BCS and its selection process, and whether a LSU-Alabama rematch was justified. We'll jump into all of those issues here on the Cowboy Corral Blog, but not before what I view as the most disgusting aspect to the whole fiasco.
That is the way ESPN unabashedly pushed for the title game that came to pass. It was in force for some time, but came to a crescendo on Saturday as conference championship games (as well as the de facto Big 12 Championship game in Stillwater). The "mothership" kicked off the Saturday campaign by bringing Alabama head coach on to its most-watched college football program, and allowed practically begged Nick Saban to stump for his team's inclusion in the mythical national championship game over the course of two hours of College Gameday.
It continued in ESPN's parent company's broadcast of the ACCvChampionship Game. The worst example came after ABC's broadcast of Oklahoma State's 44-10 whipping of (then) No. 10 Oklahoma, when ESPN's SportsCenter and College Football Final kicked things over to the ACC announcing crew of Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger. Rather than discuss the possibility that No. 3 OSU had done enough to warrant discussion of moving to No. 2, the duo launched immediately into selling the LSU-Alabama rematch.
"In all likelihood, it is going come up LSU-Alabama, and Oklahoma State is going to be left out," Musburger declared as "Herbie" nodded along with a smug grin. "You know, I want to make a point about rematches.
"Remember the Giants-Patriots a few years ago? That wasn't too bad a rematch in the Super Bowl. Huh?
"How about Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed? Rocky II?"
Yes, Musburger actually pointed to an NFL game (which came about due to a playoff system) and a battle of two fictional boxers.
Herbstreit? He agrees that Balboa-Creed was "great." He threw in the Michigan State-Wisconsin game he had just broadcast as another example of a good rematch.
The real question is why ESPN cares so much about an all-SEC mythical national championship game.
They'll be broadcasting that game, so there's a pretty major vested interest there. That being said, most analysts would say that LSU-OSU would likely have had better ratings than a do-over of the LSU-Alabama field goal fest on Nov. 5.
So what else then?
The Southeastern Conference has signed a 15-year deal with ESPN reportedly worth more than $2 billion to televise sporting events, including football and men's and women's basketball. - Associated Press, August 25, 2008
Here's a little quote from SEC commissioner Mike Slive in that same AP report.
"This agreement makes the SEC the most widely distributed conference in the country."
ESPN has $2 billion reasons to desire to see the SEC as strong as possible. What better way than to help guarantee a national champion from the conference, than to use its vast reach to influence public opinion and voters ahead of the final polls?