Will All of Cal’s Football Games Get Televised?

Posted by: Avinash on Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Thursday’s usually nonsense day here at BN, so it’s not surprising that we’re discussing the boob tube. But there are fun discussions going on with out friends at CGB. For those who want to know what being a Cal fan is like, click here (plus my response to this question, which is looking like my new “About” description for this site). For those who want fashion (FASHION?) related talk (and yes, it’s Cal-related), click for my writeup over at CGB.

It’s a bye week though, so we’re going to try and answer this pertinent question in 1200 words or less: Are all of California’s football games getting on the screen?

These predictions are all cognizant on Cal being relevant, which if they aren’t, no one will care. Assuming Cal doesn’t tumble and maintains a moderate level of respect, the Golden Bears will probably be televised in their remaining games, all except a surprising one. The USC, Arizona and Washington games will all be televised to some degree, the first and the last possibly nationally.

Since Tom Hansen makes every week of football an exercise in channel-flicking, we’re going to have break down every game and decide how much exposure our Golden Bears are getting this season. All times listed are PST.

10/25: UCLA (only 12:30 start time on ABC is available)

The UCLA game is concerning. UCLA is 2-3, probably heading on 2-4 after a visit to Autzen this weekend. More importantly, the twelve day TV pick deadline is the week after this one, and the Golden Bears are of course off this weekend. FSN has already booked the USC-Arizona game. So the ABC slot is what’s left for our team, with a slim shot at getting picked up locally.

Two things work in our favor: (1) ESPN’s love of the Golden Bears, which picked up every Cal game not televised by other networks last season (even the Washington game, when our football team dwindled to irrelevance), (2) Arizona State’s tumble to the bottom of the conference, which will only get worse with a trip to LA Coliseum this weekend. If ASU had acheived moderate success it would probably be a shoo-in that this game was televised because both them and the Ducks were supposed to be upper echelon Pac-10 squads, but if Arizona State drops their second game in conference this game loses most of its meaning.

Oregon doesn’t exactly look hot either after their demolition in LA, but these two teams did just play what seemed like the Pac-10 title game at the time. Oh well.

I know people won’t be happy with this, but if you want the max probability that the Golden Bear game will be televised, root for the baby Bruins to upset the Ducks. In the long run, it’s for the greater good.

(I have not counted out local coverage, but we won’t know about it until after the tweleve day selection.

Probability: 60% for ABC, 30% for local coverage.

11/1: Oregon (either ABC at 12:30 or FSN HD at 3:30)

This game will be televised. The only question is what time and where. Since these teams are expected to finish in the top tier of the conference, you’d expect ABC to pick them up–except USC-Washington is also on the slate. Granted, this game will probably be an unholy massacre, but never underestimate the greed of Walt Disney–USC generally draws in the most viewers.

In this case, I wouldn’t mind. The Cal-Oregon game would be nationally rather than regionally televised on FSN, and we get the high-def broadcast. Interestingly, losses by either the Ducks or Bears would diminish the luster of this game and likely give USC the 12:30 slot. So…for the second straight time, root for UCLA to upset Oregon (they have a bye the week after, so this is the only game they’ll play before the twelve day selection).

If USC retains their championship-worthy form against ASU and Wazzu, they are probably getting this spot. Even if the preliminary line is USC -70.5.

Probability: 43% on ABC, 57% on FSN

11/15: Oregon State (12:30 on ABC or 7 on FSN HD)

Our competition for the two slots this week: Wazzu at ASU, Arizona at Oregon, Washington/UCLA (the Stanford-USC game will be on Versus). Again, fairly good odds we get this game. Depending on how Rudy Carpenter is faring, the Washington State-Arizona State game has the longest shot of being televised because both teams could both be reasonably under .500. UW-UCLA is a crap shoot–both do have strong fanbases, but neither of these teams are likely to be competitive come November 3rd.

That leaves Arizona-Oregon. Now, we can influence this decision a lot by beating both of these schools. If we do, ABC is almost certainly going to pickup our game (regardless of the USC result, since the pick must be made twelve days beforehand) since the result could have huge implications on the Pac-10 race. Both of these teams beating us means we probably head to Corvallis at night, which sounds like a nightmare and something I want no part of. The more likely outcome is the 1-1 split, which leaves us up in the air.

Now, some of this will depend on our opponent. Given his relative success in the past, it’s unlikely the upset of USC was an aberration for Mike Riley. As long as he doesn’t have a meltdown (three of their next opponents are the horrid Washington schools and at UCLA, with the Sun Devils interspersed in there), Oregon State will probably have a winning record coming into this game, so the probability of this game not being televised is closed to nil. Unless someone high up at FSN is a Husky alum and wants to drive us all mad.

Probability: 40% on ABC, 50% on FSN HD, 10% not televised

11/22: The Big Game (who knows)

Oh Lord. FSN HD screwed up by scheduling the Apple Cup way ahead of time, which should be a fascinating cripple fight between two teams fighting their way out of last place. Oregon State and Arizona play, which could very well have interesting Pac-10 ramifications (high likelihood both teams are playing for bowl position). We will almost certainly be relegated to a local broadcast, and even there nothing’s been assured or signed.

There is one saving grace. Assuming the ‘Furd has an above average season (an upset here and there, a winning record), there is a 50-50 chance they head into the Big Game with a winning record. If Cal can maintains the strong pace they’ve been setting, ESPN could pick up the game (like they did for Arizona State-Oregon last season, although that game was deservedly high profiled). It’s a long shot, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

The only other way this game could get nationally televised: Beating USC at the Coliseum. But that’s not a scenario I’ve even bothered to entertain.

Probability: 99% for at least local broadcast, 15% for national broadcast

There is a good shot all of these games get televised. But I’ll err on the pessimistic side until I know for sure.

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