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Clicking down football TV's memory lane

By By Stan Torgerson / sports writer
Aug. 26, 2003
At the risk of our younger readers saying "not another remember when column by an old fuddy duddy", here's another remember when column by an old fuddy duddy.
The motivation came from the release of the first week's football television schedule, the first week being defined as this Thursday through Sunday.
You see this old fuddy duddy remembers when there was one and only one college football game on TV each week. ABC had it and it was rightly called The Game of the Week because that's what it was. It was broadcast Saturday afternoon, not Thursday, Friday, or Sunday, not morning, not night, but Saturday afternoon and the nation watched. What choice did football fans have?
Contrast that with the floodgates which open Thursday night.
Miami plays Louisiana Tech at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN. Yes, it's a yawner but to a dedicated SEC football fan, without a horse in the race, it can't be any worse than Kansas State-California last weekend. At 8:30 Georgia Tech lines up against BYU, that game to be seen on ESPN2. That one should be worth watching. But Saturday is an unbelievable demonstration of excess.
Twelve college football games will be on television starting at 11 a.m. and going straight through until at least 11 p.m. Seven SEC teams are involved. That's more than half the teams in our league.
This football orgy begins with Georgia at Clemson (11 a.m. ABC); Wisconsin at West Virginia (11 a.m. ESPN); Miami, Ohio at Iowa (11 a.m. ESPN2); Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (11:30 a.m. JP); South Florida at Alabama (2 p.m. ESPN); Fresno State at Tennessee (2 p.m. ESPN2); Oklahoma State at Nebraska (2:30 p.m. ABC); Southern Cal at Auburn (5 p.m. CBS); North Texas at Oklahoma (6:45 p.m. FOX SS); Colorado at Colorado State (6:45 p.m. ESPN); Florida State at North Carolina (7 p.m. ABC); Oregon at Mississippi State (8 p.m. ESPN2).
There's more. On Sunday, TV will bring us three others, one involving the SEC. In order they are Central Florida at Virginia Tech (2 p.m. ESPN); Louisville at Kentucky (5:30 p.m. ESPN2); New Mexico State at Texas (6 p.m. FOX SS).
There are also two on Monday, but enough already. On opening week there will be 17 college games on television, and if that's not the saturation point what is? There are 12 teams in the Southeastern Conference. Eight can be seen and evaluated in three days. The only schools left out are Arkansas because they have an open date, Florida, which meets San Jose State at Gainesville, LSU against Louisiana-Monroe with only local appeal and South Carolina entertaining Louisiana-Lafayette which should not be competitive.
The league's first televised game was Alabama-Tennessee played at Birmingham on Oct. 20, 1951. It took 33 years before the idea came along to televise a conference game every week. The initial contract was with Turner Broadcasting and it began in 1984. In 1992, the Jefferson-Pilot network took over. They had been using the same idea in basketball since 1986.
In the 53 years since the first televised game, the SEC has become a darling of the networks. Alabama has had the most TV games, 238 to be exact. They've won 63 percent of them. Tennessee is second with 209. The Vols winning percentage of 65 is the league's best.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State have had their share. The Rebels have played on TV 130 times, winning 58, losing 70 and 2 ties for a 45 percentage.
Mississippi State's game this week against Oregon will mark the Bulldogs' 100th appearance on TV. The Bulldogs have won 41 times and lost 58 for a 41% record.
Incidentally, this flood of college games on TV is not a one week thing. There are 16 scheduled the second week including Southern Miss at UAB, Ole Miss at Memphis, Virginia at South Carolina, Auburn at Georgia Tech, Marshall at Tennessee, Oklahoma at Alabama, Florida at Miami and LSU at Arizona. Sorry ladies. You'll get your husbands back in mid-January.
Please remember we said this was a "remember when" column. We didn't say it was a "good old days"
I still see my share of games in person but on weekends when I don't travel it's fun to sit back with the remote control in one hand and a refreshment of some kind in the other and skip from game to game to game.
Those were not the good old days when all this started. In the future, when we look back we'll say the good old days are now.