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Friday, August 03, 2007

From Monday's mailbag:

...if you have ESPN and ESPN2, there is no such thing as a regional ABC game anymore. All Big Ten games on ABC will be shown in markets that aren't receiving the game on either ESPN or ESPN2. No more frantically hoping that the daft programming director avoids UConn-BC. Every game that Michigan plays is either on the BTN or nationally televised.

As a result: Michigan fans should not get Gameplan unless they want it for ACC/SEC/Big 12/etc purposes.
A quick review of the announcement from the Big Ten reveals one potentially major caveat:
All regional afternoon football games aired on ABC will be aired by ESPN/ESPN2 in outer-markets, making these games nationally available
Emphasis mine. ABC, of course, started a successful "Saturday Night Football" franchise which it will continue this fall. Some of these games are regionalized. Last year's schedule, with Big Ten games highlighted:
Sept. 2, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
Sept. 9, 8 p.m. ET: Ohio State at Texas
Sept. 16, 8 p.m. ET: Nebraska at USC
Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at Michigan State; USC at Arizona
Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET: Ohio State at Iowa or Michigan at Minnesota*
Oct. 7, 8 p.m. ET: Oregon at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
Oct. 14, 8 p.m. ET: Michigan at Penn State; Arizona State at USC
Nov. 4, 8 p.m. ET: UCLA at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
Nov. 11, 8 p.m. ET: ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
Nov. 18, 8 p.m. ET: California at USC; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
Nov. 25, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at USC
Dec. 2, 8 p.m. ET: Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
The asterisk indicates that the game not chosen -- in this case, Michigan-Minnesota -- ended up on ESPN instead. So last year two Big Ten games would unavailable in whatever portions of the country got the USC game (West Coast only, basically).

This year Michigan has most of its big games at home, where they don't play night games. However, Wisconsin is on the road and, given the relative hype levels of both teams entering this year, seems a holy lock to be an ABC Saturday Night game that may or may not be regionalized. I dropped a note to someone at the Big Ten Network asking what the status of this game would be for Michigan fans living in the wrong part of the country should this happen. The response:
Beginning in 2007, the only time a Big Ten ABC game might end up on GamePlan is in the rare instance that ABC is regionalizing a prime-time Big Ten game.
So I was right and I was wrong: there is a chance Michigan will end up on GamePlan sometime this year. Mea culpa. But the only reasonable chance it might happen would be for the Wisconsin game, and that may be a national telecast. You are still advised to avoid the season package and just get it for that specific weekend* if it's necessary. Or go to a bar.

*(I believe this is possible but am not entirely sure since I've never shelled out for it myself, although it is tax-deductible for me this year... hmmmm. Anyway, if this is not an option please correct me in the comments.)