When it comes to measuring respect in college football, there’s one clear way to see which teams are getting their due: see who’s on TV. In the BCS era, there are four big players — CBS, FOX, NBC (for Notre Dame games) and, of course, ESPN — driving college football forward. To appear every week on those four channels (plus ABC and ESPN2, both in the ESPN family) is to be accepted among the college football elite, and to be part of the national conversation.
Through eight weeks of the season, here’s how many times each AP Top 25 team has played on each of those networks:
(Games that were split between ABC and ESPN2 have been listed as ESPN2.)
The biggest winners: Alabama, Ohio State and LSU, each of which has played six national TV games.
(No team has played as many national TV games as Notre Dame, though. Thanks to their deal with NBC, they’ve played seven nationally televised games — but they’re just outside the Top 25.)
And the teams whose fan bases have a reason to complain:
The Huskers have only appeared on national TV once, while the low-budget Big Ten Network has featured them on five broadcasts this year. (Their other game, against Illinois, was relegated to ESPNU.)
5. Northern Illinois
The Huskies have a lone game on ESPN2 — a 55-24 win at Purdue. The good news: They will play three more games on ESPN2 in the month of November. The bad news: Those three games will be played on a Wednesday, a Wednesday, and a Tuesday.
6. Fresno State
The lesson here: If you play in the Mountain West and you’re not playing on blue turf, you might not get much national TV attention. The Bulldogs have twice appeared on local TV in Fresno, and once played exclusively on ESPN3.com.
The Bears are one of the best offenses in college football, but you probably haven’t seen them play. Aside from a win at Kansas State that was televised on FOX, Baylor’s games have only appeared on Fox Sports Network, Fox Sports 1, or ESPNU.
The Tigers’ road win at Georgia was broadcast on ESPN, but otherwise, the Tigers have been nearly impossible to find on TV. They’ve appeared twice on CSS, once via SEC TV’s local affiliates, once each on ESPNU and Big Ten Network, and once on pay-per-view.
More fuel for Tiger fans convinced that they can’t get any respect: This weekend’s SEC East clash versus South Carolina was passed over by ESPN’s College GameDay in favor of Oregon-UCLA.