'College GameDay' could be coming to Utah
So, what are the odds that ESPN will bring "College GameDay" to Salt Lake City on Nov. 6 for the Utah-TCU game?
Well, it's not a sure thing. But it's not a bad bet, either.
According to a spokesman for ESPN, the Utes-Horned Frogs showdown is one of several games under consideration to host the Nov. 6 edition of "College GameDay."Clearly, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. ESPN won't decide where to take its traveling roadshow until Sunday, Oct. 31.
And, clearly, whether Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Chris Fowler make the trek to Utah all depends on how the Utes and the Horned Frogs fare in the next few weeks. Both teams will be favored in their games between now and then, although both will have to beat No. 23 Air Force.
It's a virtual certainty that if neither Mountain West Conference team loses, they will both be in the top 10 by Nov. 6. And that day there's only one other possible matchup that could be anywhere near as attractive current No. 12 Arkansas at No. 10 South Carolina.
(And Arkansas could lose at No. 7 Auburn this week.)
The only other game on Nov. 6 that features two teams currently in the rankings is No. 17 Arizona at No. 14 Stanford. On that date, no other team ranked by the AP this week is scheduled to face an opponent with fewer than two losses already.
There's some precedent here. "GameDay" was in Provo a year ago for the TCU-at-BYU game. And then in Fort Worth three weeks later for the Utah-at-TCU game.
"GameDay" also came to Salt Lake City in 2004 for the BYU-Utah game, but that was all about the undefeated Utes and not about the Cougars, who finished 5-6.
A reader wondered what would happen if the Mountain West Conference ends up with one more bowl-eligible team than it has bowl berths. Would BYU be left out because it's leaving the conference?
Well, first, that's not going to happen. The MWC has five bowl tie-ins this year, and it's not going to have six bowl-eligible teams. It won't even have five if BYU doesn't win four of its last six games.
And if Utah or TCU goes to a BCS game, it won't have enough teams to fill the five contracted slots.
Second, even if purely hypothetically the MWC pressured bowls to spurn the Cougars, remember that BYU's new best friend is ESPN, which has signed a contract to televise Cougar football games beginning in 2011. And ESPN is telecasting all five MWC bowl game.
Heck, it owns three of them (Las Vegas, Armed Forces and Poinsettia Bowls).
When push comes to shove, you're better off with ESPN on your side than the MWC.
Going forward, you couldn't hope to have a better friend than ESPN when it comes to postseason football. And not just because of the seven games it owns.
Of the 36 bowl games this season, 29 will be telecast on ESPN; two on ESPN2; one on ESPNU; and two on ABC. Only the Sun Bowl (CBS) and the Cotton Bowl (Fox) won't be on an ESPN/ABC network.
Of course, there are no open slots in any of those games. They all have either conference or BCS ties.
But there will almost certainly be openings because one or more conference won't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all its slots. A year ago, there were four such games the Eagle Bank, Humanitarian, GMAC and Little Caesar's Bowls.
And all four were you guessed it! televised by ESPN. Until BYU can arrange bowl tie-ins of its own, it certainly won't hurt to have friends in, um, high places.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. His column on sports on TV appears Wednesday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.