Hey ESPN, what took you so long?
Last week’s game between then-No. 4 Washington and then-No. 17 Utah was the first time ESPN College GameDay actually traveled outside the Eastern and Central time zones. To date, ESPN’s gold-standard college football show has been in SEC country four times, Big Ten and ACC country twice apiece, before making its way out West.
It’s also no surprise that ESPN — which owns the SEC Network — announced that it was going back to SEC country for the fifth time this year to cover the Alabama-LSU game this weekend.
Here is the full list of the GameDay sites so far this season:
Week 1: Wisconsin vs. LSU (Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.)
Week 2: Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech (Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn.)
Week 3: Louisville vs. Florida State
Week 4: Tennessee vs. Florida
Week 5: Clemson vs. Louisville
Week 6: Texas A&M vs. Tennessee
Week 7: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State
Week 8: Alabama vs. Texas A&M
Week 9: Utah vs. Washington
Week 10: LSU vs. Alabama
Utah, we're coming to your city.
Saturday, 9 AM-Noon ET/7-10 AM MT.
See you there. pic.twitter.com/Hp7iHixL12
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 26, 2016
If you haven’t noticed by now, the East Coast bias seems to be alive and well. East Coast bias is defined as the tendency for sports broadcasters, journalists, etc. to give greater weight and attention to East Coast teams and athletes from their respective conferences and surrounding areas (ACC, Big Ten, SEC) than those on the West Coast.
And if you’re anything like me, living out West means I’m stuck watching highlights of teams East of the Mississippi before catching a few games that actually start at a decent time out West.
However, when a number of games out West start between 8-9 p.m., fans on the East Coast — unless you have some type of connection with a particular school — aren’t going to stay up until the wee hours in the morning (2-2:30a.m.) to see the ending. This, of course, hurts the image of the Pac-12 and Big-12 conferences which have later games compared to the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC.
This one of the reasons why Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey — who had a year to remember last season — was snubbed of the Heisman Trophy in favor of Alabama running back Derrick Henry out of the SEC.
Henry put up big numbers and had a great year don’t get me wrong, but overall I felt that McCaffrey deserved it based on his all-around performance. The sophomore last season surpassed Barry Sanders’ NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yards in a 41-22 victory over USC in the Pac-12 championship game. McCaffrey ended the game with 461 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns three different ways (rushing, receiving and passing). He also set a Rose Bowl record with 368 all-purpose yards in a 45-16 rout over Iowa last year.
This, along with a number of other incidents continues to hang over ESPN as the company tries to quash the idea of any favoritism going on with the SEC. But the Worldwide Leader in Sports didn’t help its case when it took College GameDay nine weeks to finally travel West, yet didn’t hesitate to return to SEC country for the fifth time this season. That’s still more than twice the number of visits as the next two power conferences combined with the GameDay crew yet to even visit a team in the Big 12 Conference.
And for the cherry on top, the College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday with the Pac-12’s lone undefeated team (Washington) coming in at No. 5, one spot out of the four-team playoff. So who was ahead of the undefeated Huskies? Yup, you guessed it, Texas A&M (7-1) — despite already having a 19-point loss this season — gives the SEC two teams in the top 4 of the College Playoff.
Coincidence, I think not.
Remember, the Pac-12 Conference was left out of the College Football Playoff last year, and if Washington doesn’t run the table, there’s a good chance the Pac-12 will be left out again this year.