During the Sunday broadcast of ESPN’s College Football Gameday, Chris Fowler took a moment to defend the mothership from claims of bias toward the Southeastern Conference.
“I’m a little defensive, but I get defensive when stupid, uninformed stuff gets repeated again and again,” Fowler said. “And somehow people all over the world think we have a stake in having three teams from this league [the SEC] get in.”
Gee, Chris. Ya think?
Not only does ESPN boast its brand new, shiny ESPN SEC channel, let’s take a look at your show, College Football Gameday—the standard bearer for all college football pregame shows. Thus far, four of nine broadcasts this season have taken place at SEC schools. The remaining five broadcasts were at one neutral site for opening weekend, Oregon (Pac-12), North Dakota State (FCS school) and twice at Florida State.
How about last year? Five broadcasts from SEC schools, three at Pac-12 schools, two at B1G and ACC, and once apiece at Big-12 and FCS schools.
When you break that down, out of 23 in-season broadcasts (no championship games or bowl games), here’s the breakdown:
* SEC: 9
* Pac-12: 4
* ACC: 4
* B1G: 2
* FCS school: 2
* Big-12: 1
* Neutral site: 1
In other words, ESPN takes its show to SEC schools almost as often as the remaining four power conference schools combined. Of course, Fowler and co. will simply deflect, pointing to national rankings as the guidepost. After all, SEC teams are always disproportionately at the top of the Top 25, week in and week out. “Disproportionately” is a very good word to use. Think about this past week. Mississippi State wins on the road at Kentucky at the media raves as though it was a battle between two top-flight programs. Yet Utah beats USC and no one even blinks. It’s not like Kentucky is a better opponent than USC. Both teams now have three losses. In fact, no one seems to note that the Pac-12 has four teams with only one loss. Why is that not a story, but pumping Kentucky as some major opponent is a story? That is the bias we’re talking about, Chris.
No one is arguing the SEC is a mediocre conference. It’s not. In virtually every statistical sense, it is the best conference in college football. The point I’d make is the SEC is not so far-and-away better than all the rest that it warrants a full 50 percent of ESPN’s college football attention and three of the top four spots in the new, already atrocious College Football Playoff rankings (another story for another time).
I’d like to tell Chris Fowler that, but I think he’s contractually bound to stay below the Mason-Dixon Line until Bowl Game season.
Actually, I expect College Gameday will be in East Lansing, Michigan in a couple weeks for the Ohio State-Michigan State game. That will be the biggest game of the Nov. 8 weekend. This weekend? No idea. I think they should go to West Virginia. The TCU-WVa game might be the best of Week 10. Whatever it takes to keep them from bringing anymore Duck Dynasty clods on the show!