Oh! The wonders of the Pac-12 network(s)! Every game viewable! Wall-to-wall coverage! Streams all over the internets! . . . Next year.
But this year? We’re stuck with the same old horrible Tom Hansen TV plan, and that means lots of Comcast Sports Net and lots of finger crossing. Here are the depressing details:
To start, CBS gets to pick six games involving Pac-12 teams to air nationally. Those games are as follows: Washington at Duke, Arizona at Gonzaga, Oregon at Arizona, UCLA at St. Johns, UCLA at Arizona, and one wildcard game that is guaranteed to be Washington at UCLA and is guaranteed not to be Cal because the Bears aren’t even one of the wildcard options.
Then, ESPN gets to pick four games. They chose Oregon at Washington, Washington at Arizona, UCLA at Washington and one wildcard game that is going to be Stanford at UCLA or Washington at Oregon. At least Cal is an option this time around, but I somehow doubt ESPN will pick a bad USC team over JOHN WOODEN PAULEY PAVILION HISTORIC HISTORY VENERABLE WOW HISTORY. Yes, I know that Pauley will be closed this year for renovations. No, that doesn’t change the TV decision making process.
So, what do the TV choices tell us?
For one, CBS looks for any opportunity to pick a Pac-12 game that includes one team that isn’t in the Pac-12. A reputation for attracting viewers our conference does not have. For one thing, I hope you really like watching Washington, UCLA and Arizona. I’m guessing that you’ll be able to watch those teams play on CBS or ESPN a total of 14 times. The rest of the conference? Oregon gets two appearances probably because they’re playing UW and Arizona at the right time. Everybody else has been shut out unless they get grabbed in a wildcard game.
For another, it’s either a painful indictment of the opinion TV executives think of the Cal basketball fan base or a painful oversight of what just about everybody thinks is a team that should challenge for a conference title. The other main contenders each have at least three appearances on ESPN or CBS, but Cal is likely to have none.
The Bears are left with seven of their eighteen Pac-12 games with guaranteed coverage on FSN. Those games are as follows:
vs. UCLA, at Oregon, vs. Stanford, vs. Arizona, at UCLA, at Colorado, at Stanford
The good news is that every game vs. UCLA, Stanford and Arizona will be on TV. The bad news is that we’ll have to hope that CSN picks up as many other games as they can or we’ll be doing goofy things like signing up for Washington St. All-Access for the 2nd year in a row. I’m going to go ahead and predict that Cal’s Thursday night clash with Oregon St. in Corvallis will only be viewable for 10,000 people at Gill Coliseum and however many people want to pay $10 for Cal All-Access.
But let’s not dwell on complaints over a TV deal that ends soon. Instead, let’s focus on what we will get to see. Thanks to the CBE classic, Cal fans will be able to watch at least four non-conference games. George Washington, Austin Peay and Georgia will all air on an ESPN affiliate, though the first game will be on ESPNU. Hopefully that one will be streamed on ESPN3 for those with less complete cable packages. Hopefully Cal defeats Georgia so their 2nd round CBE game against either Missouri or Notre Dame will air on ESPN2 rather than ESPNU
The only other non-conference games with announced TV coverage is a road game against San Diego St. that will be on the MTN and a home game against UNLV on CBS College Sports. Unfortunately, we can’t complain as much about the lack of non-conference coverage because teams don’t tend to pick up great TV coverage for games against McNeese St., UC Irvine and Jackson St.
This could be a special year for Cal men's basketball. Hopefully the last year of a misguided TV deal doesn't prevent fans from seeing as much of it as possible.