APPARENTLY THERE was an Internet scare the other day for WVU football fans.On Thursday, ESPN released what it called "the 2012 college football schedule for ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN3."Only one Big 12 game was listed: Texas versus Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 13.Mountaineer deputy athletic director Mike Parsons, however, was only puzzled by one part of the release: why the Texas-Oklahoma game was included."That's not a complete schedule," Parsons said.He added that "basically you have ESPN, Fox and the Big 12 reworking contracts. That will come into play. My guess is you'll see more [Big 12 games on ESPN] coming."It certainly is confusing to follow television deals these days, perhaps more so than remembering which team is in which conference in these times of realignment.To try and simplify, the Big 12, WVU's new home, has a deal with ABC that doesn't expire until 2016. But a $1.2 billion, 13-year deal was signed with Fox in April of 2011.The new deal you've been reading about in effect synchronizes ABC/ESPN and Fox contracts, worth the combined $2.6 billion ($200 million per year for the league) or $20 million annually per school.
That is to be announced formally any day now."The lawyers are fine-tuning it," Parsons said. "In principle, they're there."He said WVU fans can be assured "every game will be televised, and everyone in West Virginia will be able to see them.""Under the previous contract no [Big 12] games were there," Parsons said of ESPN. "The broadcast network was ABC. The cable network was Fox."Now, in the past, Fox would sub-license some games to ESPN. A handful of games. Some on Thursday and Friday. Maybe a couple on Saturday.
"In the reworked agreement, though, there will be multiple players. You could see games on ABC, Fox broadcast, Fox cable, ESPN and everything else. That's where we're headed. So it's not surprising there are no Big 12 games listed considering the reworked deal."
Parsons said the ESPN schedule out there was probably released "because other people, like the SEC, wanted to get it out there and didn't want to wait."WVU fans are obviously interested in which networks will carry their Mountaineers and the deals established. Like it or not, television money is the lifeblood of visible college athletic programs.Currently, a hot topic is West Virginia's third-tier media rights. Athletic director Oliver Luck is putting forth an RFP (request for proposal) to the marketplace to gauge interest. The results will determine the fall or a lifeline to Mountaineer Sports Network.But back to the topic at hand."All of [WVU's] games will be nationally or regionally televised," Parsons said. "A difference is you'll see some on Fox or Fox cable."In short, yes, there remains a possibility of a College GameDay stop in Morgantown this coming season. Lee Corso could show. Viewing habits, however, might have to change a click.
"Even if nothing changes, there are no worries about us being on national television," Parsons said. "Don't worry about it. What you saw is a preliminary schedule because they're fine-tuning the [Big 12] contract."Perhaps a good rule of thumb for WVU fans is this: Whatever the Big East offered, the Big 12 is offering more.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.