The Eight College Football Programs ESPN Loves To Favor
The average male's morning routine consists of pouring themselves a nice cup of coffee, opening up the local sports section, and turning on the worldwide leader in sports.
The normal college football fan's opinions are influenced heavily by the experts and analysts from Bristol.
Now that ESPN has gained the rights to broadcast the BCS-bowl games starting in 2011, can they become even more powerful? We all know that come fall, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Barack Obama are the most influential people in America.
Will ESPN push it's favorites into their bowl games?
Will a lesser, yet loved, team be put in over a more deserving program just because of ratings, publicity, and money?
Let's take a look at who will benefit the most from the change of studios.
Although it is safe to say that ESPN has a thing for the Gators, it is even safer to say that their recent favoritism can be linked to two men: Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow.
The moment Meyer left Utah as an up-and-coming head coach in college football, ESPN fell head over heels for him. It's easy to favor a head coach who has already won two national championships since his arrival in Gainesville. In fact, he deserves to be favored.
However, one complaint constantly heard this past year was the support for Tebow. Fully evident during this year's Heisman race, ESPN solely kept Tebow's name in contention by constantly ranking him among the nation's best, even after having a down year compared to his past numbers.
It will be interesting to see if the love continues between the Gators and ESPN with Timmy finally getting his diploma.
Will the feelings dwindle, or will it be sparked again by the new B-M-O-C, John Brantley?
The relationship between the Irish and ESPN is strictly love-hate.
Each preseason, Notre Dame is ranked in their polls. Sometimes it's deserved, but even many Irish fans agree, most of the time it's not.
When Notre Dame is legitimately among the top 25 teams in the country, ESPN will love them more than a mother can love her newborn son. During the Brady Quinn era, no team could be seen more times on SportsCenter than the Irish.
However, after the Irish lose a few games and begin to look like an average football team (like in recent years), ESPN will treat the Irish as if they were the ugly duckling itself. For example, Charlie Weis' face could have been considered the ESPN logo for most of the month of December.
Heck, even the lighthearted host from "First Take," Dana Jacobson, was busted for hating on the Irish. The words that got her in so much trouble and led to her suspension?
"F*** Notre Dame," "F*** Touchdown Jesus," and "F*** Jesus."
But at the end of the day, everyone knows that Notre Dame will welcome the apologetic network back into their program with open arms.
ESPN has always liked the Buckeyes.
However, those feelings were further enhanced once the most highly-publicized recruitment ended in Terrelle Pryor choosing the Buckeyes just a few years ago.
Since the day Pryor stepped on campus, the "LeBron of high school football" (as he was dubbed by the network experts themselves) has given Jim Tressels' program a reason for ESPN to show more attention than ever. The ironic thing is, for the most part, Pryor's on-field performances are rarely worth that same attention.
You can expect to see these guys at the top of Mark May's weekly poll no matter what the record states. Three wins? Ten Wins?
Doesn't matter. This is Ohio State.
ESPN favors the Trojans in a different way than others.
Although they constantly praise USC on the football field, the affection lies in what they keep quiet. The network chooses not to acknowledge the NCAA sanctions and violations looming in the future for Lane Kiffin and his football program.
The story of Stafon Johnson was both tragic and inspiring. Johnson, of course, was shown much love by ESPN, along with the rest of the nation (including us Irish fans!).
However, after things had died down and Johnson began to recover, the network chose to focus solely on the feel good story instead of any of the negative stories looming at Southern California.
By all means, every fan loved hearing the good news about Johnson's comeback. But the way ESPN tends to hide the "mishaps" of the USC football program just further displays the favoritism towards USC.
It's kind of hard not to like Boise State.
However, ever since the Broncos' miraculous BCS-upset of Oklahoma, followed by the wedding proposal by then-superstar Ian Johnson, ESPN has declared them as their underdog favorite.
The true compassion towards the Broncos' was shown in wake of the violent ending of their season-opening win over Oregon. You could feel the pain ESPN was feeling for Byryon Hout through every replay of the famous "Blunt Punch."
It will be interesting to see how much support ESPN shows for Boise State to be in next season's title game if they do in fact go undefeated. If anyone is going to get the Broncos a crack at the hardware, it will probably be the guys from College Gameday.
Just like Boise State, Oregon is another popular team around the nation.
However, not many people really know why they are so liked. Is it the uniforms? The unique offense? The school mascot?
For me, it's obviously the uniforms. If I were a 18-year-old high school football player, I would choose to play at Oregon solely for the purpose of getting a mystery uniform each time I walked into the gameday locker room. But what's ESPN so in love with?
During the fall, the Ducks seemed to fit in nicely as popular headlines. Maybe a little too nicely.
With big bad Legarrette Blount walking out the door next season, will ESPN fall even more deeply in love? I'll take that bet.
We all know why Penn State gets the attention it does. After all, the grandfather of current college football still prowls the Nittany Lions sidelines.
ESPN has a thing for experienced vets. However, this is one of the few teams I don't mind getting "over-loved." If one man spends most of his life dedicated to one football program, he deserves only the best.
It seems as if Penn State always sits somewhere in the Top 15, no matter what their record or schedule looks like (which is usually weak).
Keep the love coming, ESPN. We support your relationship here. Just don't make it an abusive one come 2011.
Ah yes, the underdog. Who can forget?
Each year, ESPN catches on to this team halfway through the season, pushing them up the polls and making them known across the nation.
This past year, it was Temple and TCU.
The previous year, it was Drew Willy and Buffalo. Three years ago, it was Colt Brennan and Hawaii.
The most recent notable team for me, however, was Rutgers in '06. Locker room chants, promo videos, and "Keep Chopping" slogans were a common thing around the ESPN production studios.
Will the underdogs now have a better chance at getting a crack at the big boys with ESPN taking over the BCS bowls? It may be (Boise State, anyone?).
Time will only tell if these Cinderella teams will slip on their glass slippers on the way to a national championship appearance.