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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: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
Leflore207791
Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
Itawamba156135
Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
Winston124526
Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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