LET TV BE YOUR GUIDE
Merrill Panitt, editor of TV Guide and a man who knows where the dollars and cents are in television, thinks the NCAA is all wrong in its football-on-TV policy. The NCAA makes up its TV schedule before the season begins, rather than wait to see which game each week shapes up as the liveliest attraction. It does this so that the telecasts can be distributed equitably among NCAA members and thus be, so to speak, a showcase for both college football and the colleges themselves.
Panitt argues that this policy is hurting college football, relatively speaking, and that interest in the college game should be much higher than it is. He cites all sorts of figures to prove this (example: 75 colleges have dropped football), but his clincher is that the NCAA will get $12 million a year for its TV contract, compared to the NFL's $25 million. The reason for this vast difference, he says, is simply that more people watch NFL games than NCAA games, even though college football has great appeal (he notes that when ABC exercised its "wild card" option last year and televised USC-Notre Dame, the game drew the largest TV audience of any regular-season football game ever, pro or college, and that the Rose Bowl, which by happy coincidence matched the two best teams in the country, had a better rating than the Sugar Bowl).
Panitt feels that as long as the NCAA is involved with commercial television, it could enhance college football by going all-out for TV money, instead of loafing along at half-speed. Select the game to be telecast five days in advance instead of five months. Look into the possibility of playing and telecasting games at night, to avoid conflict with stadium attendance in the afternoon. Start a postseason playoff to determine the national champion "and charge the TV people a fortune to carry it." Put on the best show possible and get full value for it.
Maybe he's right. Then again, college football is more than USC vs. Notre Dame maximum ratings every week, the top dollar. Sometimes you can't sell tradition, but it is kind of nice to see it on TV once in awhile.
DUM-DUM DUM DUM DUM
Robert A. Brown of Cody, Wyo. has invented an ashtray that can be attached to a riding saddle ( U.S. Patent No. 3,457,702). This should relieve conservation-minded Smokey the Bear fans, who have been worrying about all those cigarette butts the Marlboro cowboy gets rid of out in the wild country.
Whether the NCAA's television policy is good or bad doesn't seem to matter to Ohio State. The Buckeyes have led the country's college football teams in average attendance per game for 11 straight years and for 17 of the last 18. The ease with which the big stadium—it seats 81,455—is sold out is the envy of virtually every other college team in the land and most pro teams, too.
This season, for example, after reserving a substantial block of seats for faculty, staff and students, Ohio State put its season-ticket books (for the five home games) on sale June 1. It distributed applications to priority groups such as alumni and longtime ticket holders, with a deadline of 30 days for applications to be returned. By June 12, every available ticket had been sold.
A howl of anguish immediately went up from almost 10,000 applicants who had been shut out, even though they had sent their applications in well before deadline. But after last season, when Ohio State was unbeaten (10-0) as it won Big Ten, Rose Bowl and national championships, the demand for tickets was extraordinary. And when they were gone, there was nothing Ohio State could do. It has been proposed, usually by those who have tried vainly to get tickets, that the open end of the Ohio Stadium be closed in with new grandstands. But Athletic Director Dick Larkins says, "There is no point in adding bad seats," and, anticipating other arguments, the faculty council flatly states that nothing would be solved by adding an extra game to the schedule.