Thursday, February 22, 2007

Television Travesty

I'm incensed for a number of reasons, but I'll choose just one to focus on for the moment:


Why is it that we never play on national TV?

Let's put this in perspective. Here is a sampling of teams and the number of games they played on national television (or will have played by the end of the season):

Tennessee - 10
Kentucky - 10
Arkansas - 7
LSU - 7
Florida - 6
Alabama - 5

Vanderbilt - 2 (on ESPN2 against Ga Tech and CBS against Florida).

I understand the issues involved: TV market, size of fanbase, strength of schedule (you'll be on TV more if you play good teams), and so on. My question is this: why aren't we making a bigger push to get more (and better) exposure?

The onus for this should fall on David Williams (our AD without the title of AD) and, perhaps more critically, on Rod Williamson (our Sports Information Director). Shouldn't we demand more from them? Am I just overestimating, because of my own semi-obsessive allegiance to Vandy sports, the desire of others out there in Commodore Nation to see us play (and win) on big stages?

I don't know enough about the subject, but exposure seems to be closely linked to how teams are predicted to do preseason. It's no accident that the preseason-predicted top 3 teams in the East and the preseason-predicted top 3 teams in the West get significantly more air time than the bottom half of the divisions.

But, to my knowledge, the weekly ESPN-featured SEC games (on Tuesday nights) are not decided in advance of the season. Why haven't we gotten a single one of those games? Here's a stat: EVERY SINGLE SEC TEAM except Vandy and Georgia have been on ESPN at least once for one of those featured weekday games (including 3 appearances for UT, LSU, and UK, and 2 apiece for UF and Bama) - and we're the #2 team in the conference!

At best, this is frustrating. For an insane Vandy homer like me, it's an outrage. Someone who understands this better than me chime in and tell me what you think.


Woody said...


Seamus O'Toole said...


Uncle O'Shea said...

Television exposure is a touchy thing for Vandy. You think there should be more and you are right. However, don't point the finger at an SID. There is literally nothing a sports info person can do to alter network decisions.

A much more serious issue exists in terms of the structure of the athletic department. There is no AD despite what duties someone may assume on behalf of the University and Vandy is struggling mightily in this area.

Jeremy Foley, the AD at Florida, has become one of the most influential AD's in collegiate sports and, even though UF has been #1 for most of the season, the Gators are still down the list of TV appearances.

There are two major ways that Vandy can gain more television time. Work directly with ESPN and other networks to schedule early-season non-conference games that are, in essence, made for TV. Then, obviously, winning some of those is the next step. The next hurdle is to become relevant on the national scene. One or two big wins doesn'w accomplish that.

Look at FSU...the Noles have wins over Florida and at Duke but have struggled in other games they should win. For Vandy, beating Florida is great but losing at MSU more than negates the attention received from one big win. National television announcers are saying Vandy may miss the NCAA Tournament is the Dores lose at South Carolina. Fair or not, that is the consensus.

The administration at Vanderbilt needs to change it's stance internally and designate an advocate for the athletic program who has credibility. Until that happens, the program will not be taken as seriously as others no matter how many games the basketball team wins.

J.B., M.D. said...

Outsource and spend a lot of money, two things Vanderbilt can do quite well.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Uncle O'Shea -

That's very interesting about who can do what to help with TV exposure and how.

But I was always under the impression that the AD and SID have a sort of dual responsibility for lobbying for their athletic program. I mean, after all, the SID is the "Director of Media Relations"--how does TV/media exposure not fall under his purview?