The Big 12 football schedule finally has been released, with all the bated breath of a Harry Potter sequel, and now we can look forward to the ballgames themselves.
But write down your schedules in pencil. No way is this the final version. Have you taken a look at September?
September 2012 has five Saturdays, and the Big 12 barely has five decent games to offer the television networks paying all those big bucks to fund this madness.
The Big 12 has front-loaded some good conference games – Kansas State at OU, Baylor at West Virginia, Texas at OSU – to prop up the embarrassing non-conference buffet set up by the Big 12.
I count eight non-conference games involving Big 12 teams that anyone would consider worth watching, and that's being very generous: SMU at Baylor on Sept. 1; Miami at Kansas State, OSU at Arizona and Iowa State at Iowa on Sept. 8; Texas at Ole Miss on Sept. 15; Virginia at TCU and Maryland at West Virginia on Sept. 22; and TCU at SMU on Sept. 29.
So plan your autumn at your own risk. The networks figure to add some Thursday games and figure to keep tinkering with September.
We can go week by week and see if the networks are getting their money's worth. Can they fill their quota of at least two quality games for the likes of ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports' primetime window? Let's rank the games each week.
Sept. 1: 1. SMU at Baylor; 2. OU at UTEP (provisional; the Miners are expected to be OU's opponent); 3. Wyoming at Texas; 4. Marshall at West Virginia; 5. Tulsa at Iowa State; 6-9 (tie). Northwestern Louisiana at Texas Tech, Savannah State at OSU, Missouri State at Kansas State and South Dakota State at Kansas.
I can't see ABC picking up any of these games. Maybe we'll have a Fox Sports doubleheader: SMU-Baylor at 6 p.m., OU-UTEP at 9 p.m.
Sept. 8: 1. Miami at KSU; 2. OSU at Arizona; 3. Iowa State at Iowa; 4. New Mexico at Texas, 5. Rice at KU; 6. Grambling State at TCU; 7. Florida A&M at OU (another provisional); 8. Tech at Texas State.
If every Saturday was like this, we'd be all right.
Sept. 15: 1. Texas at Ole Miss; 2. TCU at KU; 3. Louisiana-Lafayette at OSU; 4. North Texas at KSU; 5. New Mexico at Tech; 6. West Virginia vs. James Madison in Landover, Md.; 7. Sam Houston State at Baylor; 8. Western Illinois at Iowa State.
What a thoroughly pitiful list. And the Big 12 doesn't even own the UT-Ole Miss game; that's an SEC broadcast. ABC has nothing to show for the second time in three weeks.
Sept. 22: 1. KSU at OU; 2. Maryland at West Virginia; 3. Virginia at TCU; 4. KU at Northern Illinois; 5. Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe.
Now that's better, thanks to a conference showdown and the two newcomers. West Virginia and TCU, you guys will learn soon enough.