Pac-12 insider explains why Oregon State-USC is on the Pac-12 Network and not national TV
There was a brief moment where the prospect of USC’s game against Oregon State on Saturday would be the host site for ESPN’s College GameDay preview show was a very real reality. Even though the game was set to be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network, the matchup between the seventh-ranked Trojans and 3-0 Beavers was well on the GameDay radar.
GameDay decided to go to Tennessee-Florida. Then the Pac-12 announced that Oregon State’s Week 5 game against Utah would also be shown on the Pac-12 Network. Back-to-back marque matchups for coach Jonathan Smith’s 3-0 Beavers against the top-ranked teams from their league and they were tucked away on the Pac-12 Network.
The TV designation felt like a sign of disrespect for Beaver fans hoping to see their program get the attention it deserves after a rock-solid start. For Trojan and Ute fans hoping to see their résumé build in front of a national audience, the TV selections felt a little like they were being hidden on the league network with low visibility and limited access.
Frustration flowed. Larry Scott’s ears were probably burning.
“I’m disappointed for our student-athletes and coaches,” athletic director Scott Barnes told The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner. “They have earned the opportunity to play on a Tier 1 national platform.
“Our (media) partners, in my mind, are missing two good games.”
Wilner went on to explain why the Beavers are playing on the Pac-12 Network.
With three non-conference home games this season, USC is contractually obligated to appear on the network three times. The opener against Rice filled one of those three games. Utah has to play on the Pac-12 Network at least twice. Games against Southern Utah and Oregon State fulfill that obligation, leaving plenty of opportunity late in the year to get a possible College Football Playoff contender on either ESPN or FOX channels.
If ESPN or FOX pick up the Oregon State matchup for either team, it limits the possibility of getting later-season games when fan interest peaks.
There were a couple other factors as well. From Wilner’s write-up:
1. Both USC and Utah have weeknight games later in the season. Those can’t be passed off to the Pac-12 Networks, further squeezing the late-season (Saturday) selection options for ESPN and FOX.
2. The networks could not utilize a six-day pick and wait until Saturday night to make a decision on the Oct. 1 lineup, in case Oregon State were to beat USC and set up a ranked-vs.-ranked game in Salt Lake City. Why? Because Oct. 1 is Homecoming for the Utes, and Homecoming games must be picked two weeks in advance.
Wilner went on to detail how the two networks make game selections, which you can read here.
Saturday’s game between the Trojans and the Beavers (6:30 p.m. PT) should be a good one. The Beavers took last year’s meeting 45-27 in Los Angeles. The Trojans are also 3-4 in Corvallis since the turn of the century.