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For college football on TV, 'the season itself is the story'

The networks that televise college football are adjusting to a smaller inventory of games because many conferences won't be playing this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Sep 6, 2020 8:28 PM

The networks that televise college football are adjusting to a smaller inventory of games because many conferences won't be playing this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They also know there's no guarantee all the games still on the schedule will be played. Cases of COVID-19 have spiked on many college campuses, and conferences continue to formulate testing protocols for players and coaches.

Ilan Ben-Hanan, who oversees ESPN's four college networks, said broadcasters will need to be flexible about postponements, cancellations and other changes for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve had day-to-day and hour-to-hour discussions with conference partners. It is really just a matter of being responsive and solution-oriented. It is up to the leagues and they will do what is best,” he said. “We are a media partner. It is up to the schools and the conference if they want to stage events.

“We're excited for it to get going and will keep our fingers crossed.”

Tag Garson, a senior vice president at Wasserman Sports, said the biggest storyline going into the season isn't about any team or player.

“With all the twists and turns, the season itself is the story. My primary hope is we can go through it without any issues,” he said. “What is distributed is likely to change from week to week.”

Some other news about how the networks are handling college football this season:

ESPN ROLLS WITH ACC, SEC

With the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences electing to play this fall, ESPN is able to fill most of its Saturday windows and has enough inventory to disperse to ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the conference networks.

The only window that ESPN is still trying to figure out is late Saturday, since the Pac-12 is not playing. BYU might be a possibility if ESPN wanted a live late Saturday game, but its matchups are not appealing.

“There are less games overall but we are in good shape for the most part,” said Ben-Hanan, who oversees ACC Network, ESPNU, Longhorn Network and SEC Network.

Ben-Hanan said discussions are ongoing about how the bowl schedule might look as well as any possible adjustments to the College Football Playoff.

TIGERS AND TIDE

CBS has stuck to a reliable formula for picking its SEC game of the week — make sure either LSU or Alabama is one of the teams.

CBS has selected games for six of the first eight weeks and only one of them doesn't feature the Tigers or Crimson Tide. Each school will have at least three appearances, including Nov. 14 when they play each other.

FOX SCRAMBLING

With the Big Ten and Pac-12 not playing this fall, Fox's Saturday “Big Noon Kickoff” could be renamed “Big 12 Kickoff” since all of the network's announced games so far are from the Big 12. Fox has the first pick of Big 12 games this year until the conference reverts to ESPN in 2021.

If Fox was hoping to fill spots from the Group of Five conferences that haven't postponed their games, the network is out of luck. The American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences have deals with ESPN while Conference USA's is with CBS.

LUCK OF THE IRISH

Notre Dame becoming a full member of ACC football for at least this season is an unexpected benefit for NBC, which is marking 30 seasons of televising Fighting Irish home games.

NBC gets an Oct. 10 game against Florida State as well as Dec. 5 against Syracuse. The marquee game on the Irish schedule even before the pandemic was Clemson coming to Notre Dame Stadium.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19601229
Hinds18712386
Harrison16569277
Rankin12637263
Jackson12483219
Lee9671160
Madison9420196
Jones7914146
Forrest7159136
Lauderdale6798226
Lowndes6014137
Lamar585880
Lafayette5716113
Washington5182129
Bolivar4599121
Oktibbeha440391
Panola428392
Pearl River4138128
Warren4122113
Pontotoc408068
Marshall400392
Monroe3981126
Union393673
Neshoba3777167
Lincoln3491100
Hancock341674
Leflore3363118
Sunflower317385
Tate301574
Pike299193
Scott292868
Alcorn290760
Itawamba289072
Yazoo284962
Coahoma276367
Tippah276165
Copiah276057
Simpson272778
Prentiss268858
Leake252171
Marion251578
Wayne251541
Covington248278
Grenada246277
Adams233377
George231145
Newton226352
Winston221375
Jasper212744
Tishomingo211965
Attala206369
Chickasaw200851
Holmes181770
Clay178250
Stone171829
Tallahatchie170039
Clarke168971
Calhoun157128
Smith152431
Yalobusha143536
Greene127233
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Perry121434
Montgomery121338
Lawrence119521
Carroll117923
Amite110932
Webster110030
Jefferson Davis101231
Tunica98823
Claiborne97929
Benton93324
Humphreys92427
Kemper89623
Quitman77114
Franklin75619
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61927
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491849

Reported Deaths: 9869
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson707641366
Mobile35937724
Madison32307450
Tuscaloosa24024410
Montgomery22502499
Shelby21848214
Baldwin19698277
Lee14926151
Morgan13624251
Calhoun13202285
Etowah13154319
Marshall11243208
Houston10058259
Limestone9348134
Elmore9345182
Cullman8879179
St. Clair8799221
Lauderdale8588210
DeKalb8436174
Talladega7500163
Walker6509251
Jackson6483102
Autauga622890
Blount6084125
Colbert6004118
Coffee5235102
Dale4627106
Russell402930
Franklin398876
Covington3949106
Chilton386298
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke343149
Chambers3399108
Dallas3397141
Pike292972
Lawrence282284
Marion281295
Winston246266
Bibb244560
Geneva238870
Marengo233755
Pickens223954
Barbour210651
Hale209068
Fayette199956
Butler195265
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe166038
Randolph163140
Washington156334
Crenshaw144054
Clay143454
Macon141643
Cleburne137139
Lamar132432
Lowndes130749
Wilcox121425
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105427
Sumter98331
Coosa88623
Greene87132
Choctaw54923
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