While USC and Penn State traded points at a record pace last night in one of the best Rose Bowls ever seen (USC winning 52-49), it was good to see Keith Jackson attending the game and dropping by the ESPN booth.
It was interesting to see Jackson, now 88, take time to speak about the over-saturation of the college game on TV as he spoke to Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, who were calling the game. Many worry that the NFL’s televised coverage has reached that level, but the “Hoss” (as Bob Griese used to call him) had a cogent point. As recently as the 1981 season, if you wanted to watch a live college football game, you turned on ABC and you watched either a single game selected for your geographic region, or on a good week, they had a doubleheader.
That was it.
In ESPN’s early years, they’d have crews going to half a dozen games, and you’d see those games on a tape-delay basis. Say you’re a fan of the Florida Gators and you lived in the Tampa Bay area. If ABC didn’t have them, you had to listen to the game live on an AM radio station. There wasn’t the dozen or so cable outlets you see these days out there.
Now a days, it’s all abut the money. Athletic programs switching conferences to get a better financial deal. As I stated above, you might be lucky to see two games on ABC on a Saturday. Now, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU air more games on a Thursday night! So yes, things have changed, and it’s OK to think maybe not for the better.