In my opinion, the most lackluster SEC matchup is still more interesting than the most intriguing non-SEC matchup. That's why I'm happy to report that, thanks to the SEC's TV contract with ESPN, Southeastern Conference teams will be showing up on the tube a lot this fall. Moreover, most of the matchups look very attractive.
TV coverage of the 2009 college football season begins at 6:30 on Thursday, Sept. 3, with North Texas facing Ball State on ESPNU. Thirty minutes later South Carolina and North Carolina State kick off on ESPN.
Two SEC teams already are penciled in for the season's opening Saturday. Alabama plays Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome (8 p.m. on ABC) and LSU visits Washington (10:30 p.m. on ESPN). The Tide-Hokies shootout promises to be a war. Conversely, the most interesting aspect of LSU's game with Washington (0-12 last fall) may be seeing former UT defensive coordinator John Chavis wearing purple and gold, instead of orange and white.
More good news: CBS tentatively has scheduled SEC doubleheaders for Oct. 10 and Nov. 14.
Nov. 14 offers Auburn at Georgia (noon) and Florida at South Carolina (3:30). Both of those games show promise, although Auburn and South Carolina are a bit suspect heading into '09.
Big Orange fans will be happy to know that Tennessee already is penciled in for TV appearances Sept. 12 (hosting UCLA), Sept. 19 (visiting Florida) and Oct. 24 (visiting Alabama). Most likely, all of the Vols' games will be televised with the possible exception of Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky, Game 4 vs. Ohio University and Game 9 vs. Memphis. If the networks pass on those games, all three likely will wind up on pay-per-view.
That said, here's the preliminary list of SEC telecasts for 2009:
South Carolina at NC State, 7 pm, ESPN
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta), 8 pm, ABC
LSU at Washington, 10:30 pm, ESPN
Ole Miss at Memphis, 3:30, ESPN
UCLA at Tennessee, TBA, ESPN
Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 pm, CBS
Ole Miss at South Carolina, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Arkansas at Alabama, 3:30 pm, CBS
LSU at Georgia, 3:30 pm, CBS
Alabama at Ole Miss, 3:30 pm CBS
Florida at LSU, 8 pm, CBS
Arkansas at Florida, 3:30 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
Tennessee at Alabama, 3:30 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
Georgia vs. Florida, 3:30 pm, CBS
LSU at Alabama, 3:30 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
Auburn at Georgia, 12 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
Florida at South Carolina, 3:30 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
LSU at Ole Miss, 3:30 pm, CBS (not confirmed)
Alabama at Auburn, 2:30 pm, CBS
Florida State at Florida, 3:30 pm, CBS
SEC Championship, TBA, CBS