As the Big 12 conference gets ready for a second-straight trip from the College GameDay crew, the question begs: “What gives?!” This is a conference that got little to no respect the past several years on the football field is suddenly getting back-to-back weeks on the court?
Sure it’s been a great season for Big 12 basketball, but this still doesn’t add up. HCS contributor Cameron Brock theorized that this was all to allow ESPN to promote its platform(s). Many of you read this article last weekend, which you can read again here. But the long and short of it was that last week, with West Virginia vs. Kentucky, ESPN could promote an SEC team, and indirectly, their own SEC Network. This week, with Texas vs. OU, you better believe there will be a few plugs throughout the morning for the ESPN-owned Longhorn Network.
I don’t think Cam is wrong, but I was going through some notes myself and thought of, what I believe to be, possibly a more likely, or at least an additional reason.
So far this season, ESPN had been to Florida at Kentucky and Kentucky at West Virginia. That’s it, as the company doesn’t start hoops College GameDay until conference play.
What were some other options for this coming Saturday? Florida vs. Alabama? After Bama beat OU last week, this game is kind of interesting, but even ESPN has to realize the poor optics of going with at least one SEC team for all three of their first weeks of the show. It also would’ve given Florida and Kentucky each two appearances in the first three weeks. No. 6 Xavier vs. Georgetown? Eh. TCU vs. No. 10 Texas Tech? Not bad, but not overly compelling, coast to coast. Syracuse vs. No. 2 UVA? Maybe in a different year.
Indiana vs. No. 5 Michigan State? Ding, ding, ding.
This was the match up that ESPN must’ve had more interest in than the Red River Rivalry, hoops edition, one week after being in Morgantown. The network had yet to cover a Big 10 game and what better place than the home of Hooiser Hysteria? Indiana’s not having a very good season, but it’s still the Hooisers and their the home team against legendary Tom Izzo and is top 5 Spartans. A big win could help IU get itself back into NCAA Tournament contention.
Oh, wait. Yea…. about that. Last Friday, ESPN drops a bombshell on Michigan State’s “secrets” extending well beyond disgraced doctor Larry Nassar and alleging cover ups of sexual abuse and/or misconduct involving football and basketball players.
So one day after this expose, ESPN was going to announce it was hosting a GameDay the following week involving the Spartans? If that was the game they had circled, they clearly had to move on to Plan B. Unfortunately, it isn’t a great weekend around the rest of the country, so they go back to a great rivalry with Texas vs. OU. Unfortunately, it’s just the wrong sport to get millions juiced.
So now that Texas is hosting the event, let’s just hope enough students show up on Saturday morning. Thankfully, it appears like Rece Davis is doing his part on campus to try and make sure Frank Erwin Center is crowded.
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