College GameDay attempts to disprove bias claims
“You don’t know what you’re talking about if you think it’s good to have the SEC dominate like they’ve dominated,” said Chris Fowler, host of ESPN’s College GameDay, from his stool on the set of the live broadcast college football show this past Saturday morning on LSU’s campus.
The self-described “worldwide leader of sports” has clearly heard the cries of bias toward college football’s best conference, from fans to media to their own employees. Apparently, they’re doing something to dispel it. After stopping on SEC campuses four of the last five weeks, GameDay is eschewing the best and most impactful game in the nation this weekend.
There are four games between ranked teams this coming weekend. Only one of them features two top-10 teams, both with a strong case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff: No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss. GameDay, which goes to the site of a game with national significance each week, will instead be visiting Morgantown, W. Va., where the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers will be hosting the No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs in a Big 12 showdown.
Of course, the simple answer to this is, “Who cares?” Where GameDay goes has no bearing on the result of the games or who the coaches and writers vote for in the polls. Regardless of where the show chose to go this weekend, ESPN will still be televising Auburn-Ole Miss to its national audience on Saturday night.
The degree to which the SEC is better than other conferences, be it the PAC 12, Big 12 or another “Power 5” member is up for debate, but the facts stand strong: the SEC has three of it’s members in the top five of the AP poll, five in the top 10 and six in the top 25. The best teams tend to get the most air time, and that’s what the SEC has.
ESPN and its parent company ABC have contracts with all the major conferences, and ESPN actually gets second- and third-choice of SEC games after CBS. Still, many SEC matchups end up in primetime on the network, thanks to their national relevance.
If feels like College GameDay is bending to the demands of the anti-SEC masses that are sick of seeing the conference’s marquee teams featured on the national program. How long will they avoid the SEC for? No. 3 Alabama visits No. 16 LSU next weekend, then hosts No. 1 Mississippi State the following week. Will GameDay avoid those matchups? Will they avoid the Egg Bowl and Iron Bowl, two games that will likely directly affect the College Football Playoff, just because their viewers are oversaturated with SEC football?
It’s one thing for the show and media giant to claim they’re not biased toward the SEC. It’s a whole other issue if they go the opposite way.