With so many SEC television agreements, it sometimes seems as though any game fans want to watch can be found somewhere.
Just as an example, SEC opponents featured on national TV this season include Toledo, Rice, Western Kentucky and North Texas.
Yet this week, when Missouri and Vanderbilt play a relevant divisional game, fans won’t be able to find it except on select Fox Sports channels.
Why, one might ask? Well, Mizzou and Vandy will be relegated largely to Pay-Per-View packages so that the highly-anticipated Alabama-Georgia State game can be played on national television on the SEC Network.
Meanwhile, another game that could determine the middle of the SEC West – the Ole Miss-Auburn game – got relegated to ESPNU when CBS opted for the Georgia-Tennessee game.
ESPN passed on Ole Miss-Auburn for LSU-Mississippi State and ESPN2 instead chose Florida-Arkansas in the same time slot.
In other words, forget competitive games. The networks televising SEC contests care exclusively about getting the biggest team possible on its airwaves.
The strategy might work in ratings, but it fails in the realm of spotlighting the league on the whole as well as its shortcoming in the common sense department.
Star power reigns and competitive games – on paper, anyway – walk in the SEC hierarchy.
Forget the trend becoming more drastic if corrective measures aren’t taken. Georgia State is already getting a spotlight game ahead of Missouri and Vanderbilt. The trend has already taken full effect.
None of this mentions, by the way, that another conference game – Kentucky at South Carolina – has also been relegated to Pay-Per-View (or ESPN3 for those inclined to watch games on their computers). At least the atrociousness of the Wildcats spares some outrage there.
Keeping that game off the docket can be justified.
Favoring a game in which the Crimson Tide opened as a 56.5-point favorite over an opportunity to see if 4-0 Missouri is for real or if an 8-win Vanderbilt program can avoid an 0-3 conference start is not.
Networks sent a clear message this week: They will continue to do the wrong thing if allowed.
From that regard, it’s a good thing the conference is one season away from having its own network.