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Let's Be Clear

Yesterday, I took up the issue of Thursday-night football games in response to a post by ESPN Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin's assertion that schools such as K-State, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech should consider playing nationally televised games on Thursdays to gain exposure.  In essence, my point was that home Thursday-night games for K-State are not a viable proposition.

Today, Griffin responded to my post.  Specifically, he wanted to know whether I'd watched last night's South Carolina/Vanderbilt game, as it was apparently a fine example of the Thursday-night games he advocates.  I say apparently because the answer to the question that constitutes the title of his post is, "No, I didn't watch a single second of the USC/Vandy game."  I went to a cookout with my roommate and some friends, where we enjoyed a few lagers, a lot of excellent food, and the opening NFL game.  To say that the NFL is a real yawner compared to college football, even games involving Vanderbilt, states my feelings mildly.

Anyway, back on point.  There are a lot of things I need to address here.

First, I am disappointed that Griffin thinks I "jumped on" him, and "blast[ed]" him for his viewpoint.  The goal of this Web site has always been to cover any issue pertinent to K-State sports, and do it in a respectful manner.  There are times when I have fallen short of that ideal.  However, I don't believe the post yesterday, nor the previous post where I disagreed with Griffin that Baylor was a better coaching destination than K-State, fell short of that ideal.  I do have a tendency to take my shots at the state of Texas, and maybe that's where Griffin noted disrespect, but if you reread both posts you will notice name-calling and other forms of personal abuse are conspicuously absent.

Maintaining a respectful tone does not, however, mean that I will not voice disagreements with anyone when such disagreements arise.  My only hope is that I can present such disagreements in a reasoned, respectful manner, and in the process contribute to an open dialogue that is, in my opinion,  the essence of the sophisticated sports blogosphere.

Take for example this summer's flare up with Kyle over at Dawg Sports.  I made an extremely uninformed and ill-considered comment, for which Kyle rightly blasted me.  I responded in the comments, Kyle and I exchanged emails, I made my feelings known, Kyle summed things up, and we left the discussionon on friendly terms.

As for Griffin's blog, I have stated from the beginning that I like the work he is doing.  It has become fairly clear, to me, that Griffin is not as fond of K-State as I am -- although he did note in the recent post that he's a fan of the ambiance surrounding Bill's House.  However, it would hardly be surprising if he didn't enjoy K-State as much as I do; I'm an alum, he is not.  K-State, Manhattan, and the color purple are not everyone's cup of tea, and I certainly understand that.  But it is genetically impossible for me to permit what I perceive as flawed perceptions or criticisms of my alma mater to pass unanswered.

Back to this discussion.  Griffin is certainly entitled to his opinion, and I don't disagree that Thursday-night games may be a good thing for some schools in some situations.  The point of yesterday's post was simply that I do not believe they are a good idea for K-State.  Population, geography, business concerns, and an on-campus stadium (thanks, huskerlibrarian) are the reasons why.

Griffin responds to my argument by noting the three schools that present weaknesses for my argument: Virginia Tech, Virginia, and West Virginia.  You will recall these are the three schools located in small towns, and that the thrust of my argument against Thursday-night games at K-State was Manhattan's remote location.

Further research indicates that Blacksburg, Va., is about 30 miles from Roanoke, Va., a city of nearly 100,000 people.  Charlottesville, Va., is about 70 miles from Richmond -- which admittedly is not a huge aid to my argument.  Morgantown, W.Va. is about 75 miles from Pittsburgh -- again not a huge help.

Griffin notes that Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech probably would not be in the ACC today if not for, inter alia, the exposure generated by Thursday-night games.  First of all, what would be the loss?  The ACC is clearly the weakest of the BCS conferences these days.  Second, Virginia Tech came over from the Big East.  It's not like their options were the ACC or the MAC.  Finally, Virginia Tech has, in the last 15 years, won a lot of football games.  There's a place in a major conference for a consistent winner, just as there's going to be exposure for a consistent winner.

In total, I read Griffin's argument as saying that occasional Thursday-night games are a small sacrifice for the greater good of the Big 12.  Essentially, this would amounts to the Big 12 asking its less-exposed programs to sacrifice their game atmosphere for the greater good of the conference.  I think I speak for all the smaller schools when I say that we'll start thinking about sacrificing something for the conference when the big-money schools start thinking about sacrificing some of "their" TV money.  Yes, under the current system a Thursday-night appearance would mean more TV money for the smaller schools, but it's still not going to change the system that guarantees Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Texas A&M will continue to get more while the other eight schools make do with less.  Well, unless Mike Sherman continues to work his magic at Texas A&M.

Further, have Thursday-night games really been a boon to other conferences?  Griffin notes the SEC, and its teams do play occasional games on Thursday.  But the reason for the SEC's current power and popularity is due to a number of factors, not merely nor primarily to playing Thursday-night games.  Also, two of the conferences who consistently play Thursday-night games, the ACC and Big East, are languishing to varying degrees these days.  Playing Thursday-night games may garner a national TV audience, but it hasn't done much to improve the quality of play in the ACC.

To sum things up, the Big 12 and its member schools should always be looking for ways to increase exposure and cash flow.  K-State has already done something along these lines in scheduling its road game with Louisville this year for a Wednesday night.  Beyond that, I've made my feelings known that the Big 12 really needs to remove itself from the yoke of Fox Sports in order to gain more exposure.  But really, are we in such bad shape these days?  The Big 12 has climbed out of its doldrums and is now considered a challenger to the SEC's dominance of college football this season.  We need to keep looking forward, but what we've been doing so far seems to be working pretty well.