This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Four games into the season, there are a number of reasons to mock BYU's football team. But the television schedule is not one of them.
And one of the least credible criticisms of BYU's 2011 TV schedule is that the Cougars are playing three Friday-night games on ESPN. That, in some quarters, is being held up as proof that BYU is a second-class citizen at the worldwide leader in sports.
And that's completely bogus. Playing on Friday nights is a good thing.
There are more people watching TV on Friday nights than on Saturdays. And, while Saturdays feature a slew of college football contests, on Friday nights you're the only game on TV.
Want proof? About three times as many homes tuned in to BYU-Central Florida on a Friday as watched Utah-BYU on a Saturday.
"Friday nights have really become kind of a cool thing," said ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore, who worked last week's BYU-UCF game and will be back in Provo for Friday's BYU-USU game (6 p.m., ESPN).
The Friday college football schedule is a point of emphasis for ESPN. It's not just MAC and WAC teams. This fall half of the 36 slots (18 games) are filled by BCS conference teams. (Eight from the Big East, five each from the Pac-12 and Big 12.)
"The Pac-12 and the Big 12 got on board when they saw the ratings on Friday night were really good," said Gilmore, "and that you had the eyeballs of the nation to yourself instead of being lost on a Saturday among 900 games."
Baylor's win over TCU got more national attention because it was on a Friday night. Heck, Florida International at Louisville did good numbers on a Friday.
"You have Friday nights to yourself and your colleagues and peers and recruits can all see you," Gilmore said.
Recruits might have to record the games if they're playing high school football on Friday nights, but Gilmore's other point is valid.
It's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison one game was a blowout; the other went down to the wire but the Utah-BYU game averaged a 0.6 rating and 567,000 households on a Saturday night; BYU-UCF averaged a 1.7 rating and 1,691,000 households on a Friday night.
And you can make fun of the BYU-San Jose State game airing on ESPNU at 8:15 p.m. MT on Oct. 8 if you want. But, c'mon, it's BYU-San Jose State and it's on a network that's in 72 million homes.
That's about 13 million fewer than FSN, which will telecast the Utah-Arizona State game earlier that day. And, at the risk of sounding like "I told you so," Utah's TV schedule this year was never as bad as it looked.
Yes, there were only three Utes games on the TV schedule before the season began, but two more have been picked up. Others will be.
Home game against Washington (Saturday, Oct. 1, 5 p.m.) and Arizona State (Saturday, Oct. 8, 1:30 p.m.) will both be on Fox Sports Net, which is seen on ROOT Sports in Utah. This is the way the Pac-12's TV schedule works. And if games aren't picked up by FSN, KJZZ-Ch. 14 is still waiting in the wings.
For the umpteenth time, Utah is headed for TV nirvana beginning in 2012 when the Pac-12's new TV deal kicks in. This year, they're in a bit of a holding pattern.
But the landing is turning out to be a lot softer than the most pessimistic predicted.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. His sports on TV column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.