Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why I Do The Gameday Recaps

While it probably seems so, this post is not a retort to Gerald's hilarious comment last night. I've been meaning to write this all season (and I thought I wrote one last year before doing the recaps, but I can't seem to find it).

The recaps serve a purpose to me, for some reason. I'll take it step by step.

College football is a sport that is too spread out and broad for most fans to have more than a passing knowledge of a few regional teams. A filter is needed to gain an understanding of the national shape of the game. Then, since the way college football decides its champion is through a popularity contest among human beings, the human beings that decide the champion also need a filter to understand the shape of the game nationally. For better or worse, Gameday has served as that filter.

No other college football show attempts to cover the game nationally and broadly (even if the focus on Gameday is in practice much more narrow). No other preview show gets the ratings Gameday gets.

As for the influence of Gameday, I'll be the first to say that it isn't the sole decider of what teams are good. Naturally, the teams have the first say in the matter - on the field. But when there are multiple unbeaten teams, or a host of one-loss teams, the polls are the largest factor in deciding who plays for the national title. Polls are voted on by humans, with biases and limitations on their ability to know everything about the game. Humans watch Gameday. It might not be the biggest influence on pollsters, but it's natural and obvious that the manner of coverage of teams on Gameday has some influence.

This year, with the fact that Gameday has decided to focus on ABC/ESPN games - admitted by Chris Fowler, I think there's even more of a reason to watch how things are covered.

Let me be clear about a few things: I like the show. I wouldn't spend several hours a week watching and recapping the show if I didn't like it. But I also think it's flawed, and it was better a long time ago. It seems to me like the show is sort of on autopilot. Too much is planned out far in advance - and too many segments seem shoehorned, such as the typical soft focus human interest stories. Seemed like a while ago the show was more about getting information out there - 11th hour suspensions and injuries, more games covered. Only two years ago, each major conference had a segment on the show, with every game getting a minute or two. There was a reason to tune in, even if your team didn't have a compelling matchup that day.

See, I want the show to be better. I want it to focus more on information that the viewers can use. I'd like them to cover more teams, more conferences. And I'd like less filler. And I'd like the experts to do their homework more and shoot from the hip less - if I can fact check them, without google, well, that's something they should cut down on. I don't play favorites on the show. I think Corso can be smart some days, a total imbecile others. Herbstreit is frequently a dick, but he also seems to be the best-prepared often. All of the castmembers get criticism from me, and no matter what the target of their praise or criticism is.

I've been doing it a while, but I know I miss things on the show. If I missed something people caught, or if I misconstrued something, feel free to say so in comments. I try to keep it light, but try to cover all the bases. I know I fall short often. And most of the time I'm either extremely hungover or half asleep.

Anyway, thems the reasons.