ESPN goes all out with BCS rankings show

Big-event TV rights can include sideshows.

Just as CBS’ NCAA basketball tournament deal includes dibs on

announcing the field, ESPN, starting Sunday, gets to unveil

college

football’s weekly Bowl Championship

Series rankings as it inherits BCS games from Fox.

Fox last season low-keyed BCS standings by announcing them

quickly on its NFL studio shows. But you guessed it: ESPN will

reveal BCS rankings, which don’t change much except when teams lose

and teams behind move up, in a movie-length yak-fest.

Sunday’s BCS Countdown begins with a 75-minute ESPN show (8:15

p.m. ET). But since that’s hardly time to scratch the surface, the

show will continue for another half-hour on ESPNU. Too bad there

couldn’t have been time for the Radio City Rockettes to show up. Or

LeBron James.

Brad Edwards, an ESPN researcher, picks an Oregon-Nebraska BCS

title game — not exactly a ratings blockbuster given those teams’

local TV markets.

He notes BCS rankings have idiosyncratic elements such as Harris

Interactive voters — including Craig Morton, who retired from the

NFL in 1982, and Pete Dawkins, who played for Army in the 1950s and

is a former vice chairman of Citigroup — forming one-third of the

basis of BCS rankings.

Edwards says: “Every year, I see a few Harris voters and wonder

how much

college

football these guys could be

watching. Who knows?”

Which, he says, has made BCS analysis much more than numbers:

“It’s kind of social psychology. You have to get into the minds of

voters to try to guess what they’re going to do.”

Sure beats deciding your national championship with a plain old

playoff.