What do ESPN and The Blob have in common?
They both started small and became huge.ESPN, the cable network that has made it possible for sports junkies to go into a zombie-like trance virtually all day and night, is a monster that's gotten out of control, according to Bobby Knight.
Because of ESPN's scheduling, Knight's Indiana Hoosiers have had to play three late Monday night games, beginning at 9:35 p.m. EST. For Indiana's inconvenience, however, the school and the Big 10 Conference get exposure and money.
The players, Knight said, get to bed quite late and have a tough time getting up for their morning classes.
Is the tradeoff worth it?
Knight, who's never had any trouble making his views clear, had no problem after Monday night's game addressing that question. Here the Hoosiers had just humbled No. 14-ranked Iowa and Knight was furious - not with the players or officials, but with ESPN.
"This is supposed to be for exposure. Well we don't need anymore exposure," Knight said. "This is the last 9:35 p.m. Monday night game I hope we ever have to play."
It's a catch 22 situation. The reason Knight's Hoosiers don't need the exposure is because they've gotten so much of it in the past. ESPN is a business. High ratings are its lifeblood. It pays to televise a perennial powerhouse with a colorful coach.
While Knight doesn't need the exposure, others - like the Western Athletic Conference - crave it, impositions to scheduling and classroom work notwithstanding.
ESPN wants a Thursday night football game, no problem, Brigham Young University's Cougars will give them two of them - as they did this past season opening up against Wyoming on a Thursday then following with another Thursday game against Texas.
And now, the WAC and ESPN are holding talks regarding a Sunday football package for the upcoming season.
The major networks, of course, have been doing the same thing for years, which is why college basketball teams started playing on Sunday - to get the exposure and financial reward.
And, as long as conferences and schools are so dependent on TV for money, TV is going to continue to dictate when games will be played.
With professional athletes and teams, the situation is a different matter. Money is the most important factor and without television the large salaries would not be available.
But it's another matter entirely when you're dealing with college sports. These athletes are supposed to be students first, and that should be the top priority for college athletic departments in all negotiations with TV networks and services.
To make TV deals that make the already difficult academic row even tougher to hoe for student athletes is to put play before homework.
It doesn't make sense even if it does make cents.