UConn and CBS recently announced they’ll be partnering up to bring you all the UConn football your hungry eyeballs can lap up. That move comes a few months after CBS bowed out of the race to win SEC broadcast rights beyond 2023, with ESPN the unofficial winner.
Unfortunately, CBS isn’t really embracing this partnership the way they could. As of now, the plan is to put all this UConn content (UConntent? We’re workshopping it.) on CBS Sports Network, the channel you scramble to when you realize Temple is beating Georgia Tech or that Houston Nutt’s still hanging around.
I propose a different tactic, CBS. One that, with a little luck, leaves you and UConn in much stronger places than you are now.
Keep things mostly normal. Broadcast your usual 3:30 SEC games, but quietly start promoting UConn more than you would otherwise. Cut away to UConn game updates every quarter. Spend a lot of time on SEC players from Connecticut, like Alabama’s Josh Jobe. Get Gary Danielson to say that Eli Drinkwitz “really reminds me of Randy Edsall in a lot of ways.”
We’re using this year to lay a foundation. By constantly but subtly mentioning Connecticut and UConn, we will be priming a national audience to accept the next phase of our operation with surprisingly little resistance. (The public already accepts that the SEC as the dominant conference in the sport despite the presence of South Carolina. Don’t underestimate what you can make them believe.)
Time to flex your broadcasting muscle. With very little public warning, take one early SEC slot and move it to CBS Sports Network. On CBS proper, you’ll be airing a UConn game instead. Pick one with a Power 5 opponent that’s early in the season; let’s go with Purdue on September 11, 2021.
I’m going to hold your hand for this next part: you need to pay Purdue to lose this game. The Boilermakers should be open to that proposal, when you remind them that
- They’re near the bottom of the Big Ten in athletic revenue, ahead of Rutgers and Maryland and trailing everyone else
- They could lose without getting paid to do so
- It’ll be much funnier if they lose this and then turn around and beat Notre Dame the next week
And because we did this in September, college football fans and media are going to spend the next two months wondering “is CBS gonna pull the ole UConn switcheroo again?” That’s exactly the kind of organic marketing we were going for, as that also means people will remember that thrilling Huskies win over the Boilermakers.
But! You’re not going to do anything else weird this season. Air some LSU and Georgia and Auburn and Tennessee games, keep it business as usual. Phase three is coming.
Time to up the ante considerably. UConn hosts Syracuse on September 10, 2022. That’s airing on CBS now. Same with Boston College-UConn on October 29. Fresno State travels to East Hartford on October 1? You’re damn right that’s a CBS 3:30 special.
Why would you ignore a valuable asset (SEC broadcasts) in favor of a questionable one (UConn football)? Simple: the valuable asset isn’t going to be yours for much longer, and there’s no security deposit. Better to give ESPN a good that you’ve devalued through neglect and outright hostility.
We’re also hoping that giving UConn all this airtime helps the Huskies get better. Additional exposure helps them with recruiting and fundraising, those turns into wins on the field, which leads to even better recruiting and fundraising, and so on.
Will we be highlighting that there’s a Cabela’s within walking distance of Rentschler Field (a fact I learned from the kind and smart folks over at The UConn Blog) in East Hartford...
...while Kyle Field is over an hour from the nearest Bass Pro Shops location?
Yes we will. UConn football is now for rugged folks who love the outdoors. Aggie football? That’s for indoor kids.
At this point, ESPN is probably begging you to sell them your SEC inventory early. Be strong, CBS, and refuse every offer. Continue pumping up UConn football at every opportunity. All their home games go on your main network. Gary Danielson’s found positive things to say about dozens of bad offensive coordinators and quarterbacks in the SEC. Now he just has to do that for Connecticut!
If they’re not playing at home that week, find the dumbest Vanderbilt game you can and pick that instead.
Like a weed in a garden, you and UConn will cut off the SEC from the nutrients it needs to thrive. The sun only shines on the Huskies now, who, thanks to lazy AP and Coaches Poll voters, now frequently appear in the Top 25. Rumors start to swirl that the ACC wants to boot Miami and add UConn, but UConn’s not interested. Life as a swaggering independent with a major conference deal’s too good!
It’s not a perfect plan by any means. For one thing, it relies on UConn football to get better.
But if it works? You’ve just pulled off the greatest broadcast heist of all time.