Does TV scheduling shuffle hurt athletes?

The movement of college football games to fit television schedules can create difficulties for athletes. Recently, Texas Christian University and Baylor University moving their game ahead a day to Sunday, Sept. 3, at 4:30 p.m. and will be carried by Fox Sports Net nationally. ESPN is televising a college football doubleheader the same day, with the University of Memphis travelling to the University of Mississippi for a 3:30 pm kickoff, followed by a U. of Kentucky-U. of Louisville matchup at 8 p.m. Memphis players will play twice on Sunday this fall, with their Nov. 4 game against the University of Southern Mississippi now moved to Sunday, Nov. 5 to accommodate an ESPN national television audience at 7 p.m. And, the University of Michigan recently had a pair of Saturday football games (September 30 at University of Minnesota and October 14 at Penn State University) moved to 8 p.m. to accomodate television, to the chagrin of its head coach, Lloyd Carr.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram ( link here ) asked TCU head coach Gary Patterson and Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw about their thoughts of the game change. “[National TV] is why we would switch a game, for recruiting purposes and the exposure you get,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Also for the polls. If you’re a part of them and you’re playing well [on national TV], it can help you.” According to McCaw: “It’s a creative way to get a great deal of exposure for the game and for the schools. It’s a really unique opportunity, and we feel like, with it being Labor Day weekend, it will work out well for us.”

The Louisville Courier Journal ( link here ) inquired about the schedule change with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. “The national exposure is great for both teams and for football in the state of Kentucky,” Jurich said. “That’s our hope every season, that the game be given a national spotlight.”

The Memphis Commercial Appeal ( link here ) asked Memphis athletic director R. C. Johnson about the movement of games to Sunday, as well as ESPN spokesman Michael Humes. “In the past, I would lobby the television guys to put one of our games on,” said Johnson. “Now they are calling us. It tells me how far we’ve come as a program and what a great job Tommy has done. It’s terrific. “Last year we got a lot of (national television exposure) because of DeAngelo. Good programs get on national television because they are good programs.” Humes stated: “For years we had NFL Sunday Night Football within that particular time slot. We felt there was an opportunity to schedule a Sunday night football game when it became available. College football is one of our most popular properties, and it has performed well in non-traditional time slots.”

Carr told the Detroit News ( link here ) “The student-athlete will get home from the visiting team at three or four o’clock in the morning, or later, depending where you’re playing. And they wait and they lay around a hotel room all day long. “I think we’ve gone down that road [of television controlling football scheduling] and there never will be a return unfortunately. I think the 12th game was just the first of what’s going to be a continued growth … we’re turning into a professional sport.” Carr also voiced concern about the Alamo Bowl moving to January 6. “Carr is hardly amused by the potential for the Alamo Bowl game, traditionally a pre-New Year’s bowl, moving to Jan. 7, a day before the new BCS national title game. That would ensure a prime-time slot for the Alamo, as opposed to shifting to a late afternoon game from what had been a prime-time start. The new International Bowl in Toronto will be played Jan. 6. “We need to get some bowl games played in February, so we can make more money,” Carr said. “That’s the thing we need to do.”