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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

April 21, 2012 at 1:02 PM

USC football, on the radio in Seattle? Maybe not

Imagine an autumn Saturday in Seattle, and you’re cleaning your garage, or out on your boat, or raking leaves, and listening to college football on the radio.

Listening to USC football.

Yeah, right.

That’s the implication of a story that broke the other day. USC has landed a national radio contract with ESPN for its home football games. Sports Business Journal reported it to be worth in the mid-six-figures range.

SBJ says ESPN affiliates will be given first crack at the broadcasts, and if they decide not to carry them, non-affiliates would get the opportunity.

So . . . 710 ESPN in Seattle, carrying a USC-Stanford game, while KJR down the dial is airing the UW in Husky-centric Seattle?

Apparently, not likely.

“We obviously wouldn’t have a whole lot of interest in it,” says Brian Long, programming director at 710 ESPN. “It’s not something we’d pay too much attention to.”

Long told me he’d been away from the office and wasn’t up to speed on details, nor would he comment on the options an ESPN affiliate might have in making the decision. But he added, “We have the Seahawks and the Mariners. That’s the driver for us.”

September Mariner games could create a conflict for 710 ESPN if it wanted to pick up college football.

Sports Business Journal says ESPN executives “hinted that they will try to cut similar deals with individual schools and college conferences.”

The conference hookup makes some sense, especially when you consider the enterprise of Larry Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner. But color me skeptical on the individual-school idea. Certainly, USC football is a nationally known commodity, but where, exactly will it pull in listeners outside LA? The Bay Area, no doubt, with lots of alums there. But Minneapolis? Pittsburgh? SEC country – Birmingham or Orlando? Not so much.

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