College Gameday has had a pretty solid relationship with the Pac-12 in previous seasons. Pac-12 teams were featured in three College Gameday sites in 2012 and 2013, and four in 2011.
This year though? It looks like the conference will only get their Week 2 showcase of Oregon vs. Michigan State. They are likely to join the Big Ten (which will get their one game with Ohio State vs. Michigan State) with a game apiece, and maybe the Big 12 too.
ESPN has become preoccupied with their SEC properties this season since they set up the SEC Network. Watch College Gameday these days and it has become a secondary lynchpin for coverage of the SEC (A staggering analysis by Awful Announcing confirms that ESPN spends more time promoting the SEC than the rest of the college football conferences combined.)
And it's reflected in their location choices. ESPN is likely to visit FIVE SEC schools (and likely one will get multiple visits), and also feature Florida State (which features the long-running Jameis Winston saga) in three other matchups. That leaves seven weeks for everyone else. They have balanced things out a bit by going to Morgantown last week and East Lansing this week, but don't expect much after this. The equation remains tilted heavily in favor of the big story (Famous Jameis) and big business (the ESPN & SEC cronyism).
Let's take a look at College Gameday sites the rest of the season.
This is a weak Pac-12 slate. Arizona State is in Corvallis, Utah plays Stanford, and Washington heads to Arizona. Nope, not a game I want to watch here.
But will any other conference benefit? Hardly. Even if Alabama loses to LSU, the Gameday crew is almost certainly headed to Tuscaloosa next week to see if Mississippi State can keep the undefeated season going against the Tide. That will ensure that four SEC West (and FIVE SEC schools in all--South Carolina got paid a visit earlier this year) schools will get paid a visit this year.
If they don't go to Tuscaloosa, their destination will be Miami for the Seminoles and the Hurricanes. The Saturday Night Football game is there, and this is the last test for Florida State before they gear up for the ACC Championship. That would bring Famous Jameis appearance on College Gameday up to four.
This is the best chance for a final Pac-12 matchup. There will be no potential top 25 matchups outside of the Pac-12. Presuming USC cruises past Cal (which should vault them into the top 25) and UCLA takes care of business against Washington, the Bruins and Trojans will both square off as 8-2 teams trying to keep their Pac-12 South hopes alive. College Gameday has not been to UCLA since 1998. Although a lot depends on how the Arizona-ASU game breaks down, this is probably the most significant game.
But the problem here is that the College Football playoff significance is not quite there, as it would be for other matchups. They won't return to Tallahasse for a third time for Boston College-Florida, but I'm guessing if Baylor wins against Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State vs. Baylor is a target (Baylor has never hosted Gameday either).
There is also the possibility College Gameday will go off the grid and go to some random obscure non-FBS matchup, as they tend to do every week a great matchup doesn't present itself. That's a shame, because USC-UCLA & Arizona-Utah will probably be better than any other top 25 games on the schedule.
There is one marquee matchup: The Territorial War between Arizona and Arizona State, which is shaping up as a Pac-12 South title matchup barring some big upsets (this is contingent on UCLA losing one of their final three games though.) Unfortunately, the game is on a Friday, which means no Gameday here. The Civil War is the other possibility, but Oregon State is not very good this season.
Another possibility is Notre Dame vs. USC. But the Trojans are likely out of the playoff race and the Irish would only get paid a visit if they had a 90-95% shot to get into the Final Four.
It's almost a deadset lock the SEC circlejerk will continue with another visit to Mississippi for the Egg Bowl or Alabama for the Iron Bowl, depending on which team is in position to clinch the SEC West with a win.
There's no way they can go to the Pac-12 Championship, as it takes place on a Friday night. This will probably be the SEC Championship, the ACC Championship, or Kansas State at Baylor (if both teams run the table and Gameday doesn't visit Waco two weeks previous), since the winners of either of those games will end up in the College Football Playoff.
So despite the Pac-12 being every bit as competitive top to bottom (if not more) than the SEC, the breakdown of College Gameday sites will go something like this.
- SEC games: Six or seven
- ACC games (all Florida State): Three or four
- Big 12 games: Two or three (including FSU-Oklahoma State)
- B1G games: Two (including Oregon-Michigan State)
- Pac-12 games: One or two.
Draw your own conclusions as to whether College Gameday is tilting away from the balanced coverage that made it one of the best studio shows in college football.