Networks have a big role in football scheduling

ATHENS –Shortly after Bill Curry was named the first head football coach at Georgia State on June 11, he got a call from friend and former colleague Dave Brown of ESPN.
“I picked up the phone and said, ‘You want us to open the season against Notre Dame in 2010, don’t you?’ ” Curry said.
The answer was no, not that Curry wouldn’t love that kind of exposure in his current job. Brown is ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions and a terribly affable fellow, but for some college football fans he represents what’s wrong with the relationship between college football and the television networks. Brown is the chief emissary for the network when it comes to scheduling.

If your team is kicking off at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, or even, gasp, on a Tuesday night on ESPN, Brown probably had something to do with it.

Curry likes Brown, a lot, but he’s not as fond of what has become of the sport he has been involved in since playing at Georgia Tech from 1962 to 1964.

“Jerking the starting times around and changing the day of the game and sending tickets out that say TBD, I don’t like that,” he said.
What choice do schools have? SEC schools received more than $50 million last fiscal year from the league’s football television deals. It’s the No. 1 rule of the sport: He who has the gold, makes the rules, and in this case, tells Georgia and Auburn what time to show up for their game.
“(The fact that money is the motivating factor) makes the control even more obvious and somehow grating,” said Curry, who worked for 11 years as a television commentator after his first stint of coaching ended.

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