In an amazing turn of events and a decided show of respect, ESPN has announced that its GameDay program will broadcast this Saturday from Provo, Utah, the site of the battle between No. 8 TCU and No. 16 BYU this Saturday.
ESPN decided to do this in spite of the fact that the TCU-BYU game will be broadcast on the Versus network.
ESPN has previously had GameDay at locations of games broadcast by CBS or NBC, but those were games with BCS conference powers. Utah hosted GameDay in 2004 on the day of the BYU-Utah game, but the Mountain West Conference was then affiliated with ESPN.
Versus and DirectTV
Versus is available normally in 77 million households, but many will be missing a chance to watch the game.
Versus is currently missing from the channels available for DirectTV customers as part of a dispute between Versus and DirectTV. The dispute is not about money, so much as power.
Versus, owned by cable giant and DirectTV competitor Comcast, wants to remain in a lower tier and thereby have more viewers. DirectTV wants Versus on a higher, premium tier that would earn DirectTV more money.
To effectively compete as a sports channel, Versus needs to increase its presence in American households. It can not accept DirectTV's position without becoming even more a of niche station.
The current DirectTV boycott lowered Versus' total households below 70 million, which would place some of its contracts in jeopardy, including the Mountain West Conference contract.
To counteract this problem, DishNetwork has offered Versus free to all of its customers, which places Versus back over the 70 million mark, at least for the meanwhile.
Whose Head Will Corso Put on?
This game would have been better if BYU had not failed to adequately prepare and plan for Florida State. A game between a 7-0 BYU and a 6-0 TCU would have featured a battle of top 10 teams.
As is, it will still be the game of the day and one of the best contests of this college football season. The teams have split their last four meetings, with TCU destroying BYU's BCS hopes last season, 32-7, in Fort Worth.
The GameDay broadcast serves as an unofficial recognition by ESPN that the Mountain West Conference is the de facto seventh BCS conference.
Maybe the MWC will get a broadcast deal reflecting that status in the near future, along with the actual BCS nod.
In the end, Lee Corso will don some headgear. While he will fake with Cosmo, Corso will ultimately go with SuperFrog to the boos of the BYU students.
At least Corso will not have to worry about profanity or drunken fans in Provo.