When Utah was a member of the Mountain West and most of its game were on channels few people could watch, fans complained that the Utes were overlooked by ESPN. The conspiracy theory was that ESPN intentionally slighted every MWC team because they had spurned ESPN’s offer and gone in another direction.
Not a particularly good direction, as it turned out. In 2008, when Utah went undefeated, there were poll voters who said they never saw the Utes play until they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That could have been true. The opener (at Michigan) was on ABC; the other televised games were on The Mtn., Versus, CBS College Sports and KJZZ.
If you thought Utah left that sort of thing behind when it joined the Pac-12, you were wrong. We were wrong. I thought this was a thing of the past. And it’s not.
CBS college football analyst Rick Neuheisel said on his satellite radio show that his bosses told him not to talk at length about Pac-12 players on “Inside College Football” — he mentioned Arizona’s Khalil Tate by name — because CBSSN does not have a licensing deal for Pac-12 Network video.
Unfortunately for Tate, all four of Arizona’s games since he took over as the Wildcats’ QB have been on P12N.
“If you’re watching our show, you don’t know who Khalil Tate is,” Neuheisel said.
He told the San Jose Mercury News, “I’m a West Coast guy, I want to show the stuff that’s going on out there, because I know it’s good football. But if it’s on the Pac-12 Networks, we’re out of luck. It makes no sense.”
(It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have Neuheisel — a former UCLA quarterback, former head coach at Colorado, Washington and UCLA and former analyst for the Pac-12 Network — and tell him not to talk about the Pac-12.)
CBS, Fox and ESPN share highlights. Fox and ESPN telecast Pac-12 games; their highlights are available to P12N, and vice versa.
However, P12N wants CBSSN to pay for its highlights, and CBSSN refuses.
Andrew Walker, P12N’s vice president of Public Affairs, told the Tribune that P12N “is committed to bringing Pac-12 sports content to as many fans as possible through all available platforms. CBS Sports Network — like all other media outlets — has access to Pac-12 Networks content and can license this content for highlight usage at the same standard industry rates that are in line with the marketplace.”
That sounds reasonable. But you have to wonder if it’s short-sighted.
Is CBSSN ignoring the Pac-12 because it doesn’t have access to P12N highlights? Or is it refusing to pay for the highlights because it doesn’t care about the Pac-12?
CBSSN has no comment. But the folks in charge there clearly don’t think it will help them to talk about the Pac-12. And the folks at P12N clearly don’t think it will help them to have the league talked about on CBSSN.
You’ve got to wonder if Pac-12 coaches, players and fans would agree.
On “Inside College Football,” you’ll hear a lot more about whether the loser of the SEC championship game deserves a spot in the playoff than whether the winner of the Pac-12 championship game deserves to go.
You could argue that CBSSN isn’t the first place college football fans go for information. That it doesn’t air A-list games. (This weekend’s schedule features Marshall-FAU, Army-Air Force and Colorado State-Wyoming.) That it’s available in only about two-thirds as many homes as ESPN or Fox Sports 1.
But it’s in three times as many homes as the Pac-12 Networks. And seemingly everyone associated with the Pac-12 believes the league deserve more attention than it’s getting from the national media.
Maybe it makes sense for P12N to make it worth CBSSN’s while to use its highlights.