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ESPN's 'GameDay' visits matter, especially to Pac-10 towns

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets two per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions on college football.

October 08, 2010|Chris Dufresne

Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: Why does it matter where "GameDay" is? My TV set doesn't care. Plus — isn't Bama vs. South Carolina the biggest game this Saturday?

Michael Saks

San Francisco

Answer: That's like saying "Why does it matter if the sun rises?"

I wrote about "GameDay" this week because ESPN's preeminent college football pregame show has become the marker for program and conference validation.

"GameDay" coming to your town — Fowler, Herbstreit, Corso, and now Andrews — is a huge deal, and where ESPN goes each week is part of that story.

It's funny, for years the Pac-10 talked openly about East Coast bias in terms of garnering national recognition. Was it just a time-zone issue, or did ESPN avoid the Pac-10 because it had contracted with a rival network?

Or did "GameDay" stay away for legitimate, logistical reasons, the mere chore of hauling trucks and equipment across the country on short notice?

It was interesting to note that had Stanford and USC won last weekend, "GameDay" would have gone from Eugene to Palo Alto — meaning trips to Pac-10 towns on consecutive weekends.

The answer to "When has that ever happened?" is "never."

The fine folks at ESPN assured me there has never been bias against the Pac-10, but "GameDay" sure took its sweet time making the West Coast a destination.

Saturday marks the 193rd "GameDay" visit (not counting bowls) to a college football venue. A few of those have been at neutral sites. The crew this week is setting up for Alabama at South Carolina.

Number of times "GameDay" has been to a Pac-10 town: 14.

That's 7%.

The visit breakdown by school: USC (six), Oregon (five), plus solo trips to UCLA (1998), Arizona State (2005) and Arizona (2009).

From 1993, when "GameDay" first started setting up in college towns, through 2003, the show made two visits to Pac-10 campuses — but has made 12 trips since.

Maybe, to paraphrase Sally Field, "GameDay" finally likes us.

Q: Boise No.1? If they played Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, NU 39, Boise 16. Would you argue? Who do you think would win the line of scrimmage battles?

Roger Hawkins

A: It's great that you already know the final score of the game. Can you pick some stocks for me? Also, I would only add that Nebraska, until the end of this season at least, plays in the same conference as Oklahoma, which lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Q: Fairly certain any undefeated BCS team (especially those with championship games) would be in over Boise … right?

Nathan Walters

Orange, Texas

A: That's a fair statement, because it excludes the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences, which have no more undefeated teams.

I would argue Boise might have a case over undefeated Nebraska because the Cornhuskers' schedule strength doesn't seem much better than Boise State's — especially now that Texas has two losses. Nebraska would only face Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

BCS expert Jerry Palm says that Nebraska's strength of schedule will end up being superior to Boise's, so I'll have to believe him even though Boise right now ranks No. 38 in Sagarin's rating compared with 134 for Nebraska.

The Huskers, by the way, looked terrific Thursday night in dismantling Kansas State in Manhattan.

Boise State, at No. 4, is only two spots ahead of Nebraska in the USA Today coaches' poll right now.

Q: Oregon jumping Boise State, and Boise State beating Oregon in prior years. So what, dude?

Nathan Lowry

Paris, France

A: Merci for writing, dude. I would argue it was unfair for Boise State to drop behind Oregon after winning a game 59-0. And yes, it's also true Boise State defeated Oregon in 2008 and 2009. That's relevant.

Bonjour!

Q: Your argument that Oregon should not be placed ahead of Boise State in the polls because "Boise State won last year's game" is a very dumb argument. You know better than that.

Sam Sorensen

Portland

A: No, Boise State started this year ranked No. 3 in the AP poll and Oregon started at No. 11. Boise State has defeated Virginia Tech, Wyoming, Oregon State and New Mexico State. Oregon has defeated New Mexico, Portland State, Tennessee and Stanford.

How does that warrant Oregon jumping eight spots and Boise dropping one?

You should know better than that.

Q: Boise beat Oregon last year. This is this year. What does last year have to do with anything? Do you base your predictions for this year (in any sport) on what happened last year? Did you pick Stanford to beat Oregon based on last year's game?

Bob Leedy

Grants Pass, Ore.

A: First, I picked Oregon to beat Stanford. Second, of course last season counts. How do you think preseason polls are determined? Voters look at last year's results and then look to see how many starting players each team has returning.

The reason Boise State started ahead of Oregon in the polls is because Boise finished No. 4 in the final polls last year and had all but one starter returning. Oregon began the year at No. 11 and had fewer starters returning.

This isn't brain surgery.

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