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All fans are secondary to college basketball lovers

College basketball gets too much love from ESPN. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Roar Guru
25th November, 2015
7

Fox Sports has become an easy and understandable target for many sports fans, especially recently. And now ESPN are beginning to leave many fans scratching their heads.

Over the years ESPN have refined their schedule to what people want, the importance of games at that time and the frequency they can show games.

NFL fans can have few complaints. The addition of the Red Zone channel has been a winner and showing the three prime-time games live mean NFL fans don’t miss a thing. Thankfully, they didn’t succumb to the Jarryd Hayne hype and bombard us with San Francisco 49ers games.

MLB coverage has been good. They can’t really go wrong here as there is really no competition for the time slot once the NBA ends. MLB games have historically been cheap to show as the MLB have paid networks to show games. Though I’m not sure if this is still the case.

The fan vote brings in viewer engagement, and means we aren’t bombarded with Yankees and Red Sox games like we used to. I doubt if MLB fans would have cause for complaint if games get bumped during the NBA Playoffs.

NBA fans have it tough. Though this is mostly not a direct result of ESPN but the NBA, as they apparently charge a prohibitive price on showing the games.

They broadcast the Wednesday and Friday night games, which means we generally get a spread of teams. They are now showing a game on Sunday, which means a loss for fans of other sports. Fans would understandably want more games, but until the NBA cut their asking price there is little they can do.

College football fans are the ones being treated with disdain by ESPN this season, however.

The ESPN schedule has been pretty regular over the past few years. Monday and Fridays are NFL, Thursdays and Saturdays for the NBA and Sundays are college football, as well as midweek games on ESPN2.

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Now college has been thrown to the side on Sundays for the NBA, and midweek for meaningless college basketball games. This week is rivalry week, with next week Championship week, surely a time when games of importance should be shown. Apparently not, two games on Wednesday that would decide the makeup of the MAC Championship were bumped for college hoops on two channels. Many fans are fearful of how Bowl Season will be treated.

This brings us to college basketball. As a former student athlete at a Southwest Conference school, which merged with the Big 8 to become the Big 12, I have a good idea of how the sports landscape works.

Basically, college hoops games are meaningless before the conference season starts. The only people paying attention are players, coaches, family, some students, gamblers and ESPN (who love it over there as it provides mid-week live filler). It’s no coincidence that conference schedules begin the week college football finishes and the NFL regular season ends, because it can’t compete.

Yet somehow, ESPN Australia believe these games are important. They’re not; it’s just six weeks of pre-season. Most fans get involved during the conference play, and then others once conference championships begin. People in the industry tell me that ESPN Australia will be showing more than 20 LSU games this season. Considering they play between 30 and 35 games, it’s a bit of overkill.

Thanksgiving is football weekend. There are three NFL games on Friday, and how many are ESPN showing? Just the one. ESPN2 is college hoops all day. I suppose Charlotte versus Texas A&M is a bigger game than the NFL.

Saturday is rivalry week in college football, and there are many good games on – Houston versus Navy, Washington versus Washington State, Iowa versus Nebraska and Baylor versus TCU. How many are being shown? Just the one, because college hoops apparently gets priority.

Sunday has some great college football games, most with a direct impact on different conferences, some with a direct impact on the National Championship. Do we get Ole Miss versus Mississippi State? Florida versus Florida State? Stanford versus Notre Dame? No, it’s Hawks versus Spurs.

And forget about the Iron Bowl, ESPN will just show a documentary on it instead. Oh look, the Egg Bowl is on 13 hours later at midnight. Next weekend we have the ACC, Big 10, SEC and Pac 12 Championship games. How many are ESPN scheduled to show?

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It looks like not only does college basketball get preference, but so does women’s college basketball. A look at ESPN Australia’s social media feeds shows fans are scratching their heads, but ESPN Australia never reply.

ESPN need to ease up on showing glorified pre-season college hoops games. Go back to showing games when they are important. When the games that are important are on there will be plenty of time to avoid scheduling conflicts.

If costs are preventing more NBA games being shown then can the Sunday game and use the money to show more games at the end of the season, in particular playoff games. Instead of showing just playoff games from the East, use the money saved to show the West games as well.

Playoff NBA gets priority over early season MLB, and playoff MLB gets priority over early season college football. Go back to dedicated days and stop moving the schedule. Mondays is NFL, Thursdays and Saturdays NBA, Sunday is college football and college basketball the filler between times.

There’s plenty of time to show college basketball between January and the end of the tourney.