Ohio-Louisville Sunday Game TV Coup For MAC
By Clyde Hughes
Ohio University's season-opener against Louisville was already big enough for the Bobcats, but moving the contest to Sunday, Sept. 1 has virtually assured it a wider national television audience.
ESPN will televise the Ohio-Louisville game, which will be played at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, at 3:30 p.m. The original game was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 31. This is the Sunday before the NFL begins its regular-season schedule.
"There will be no NFL football because the last NFL exhibition games take place prior to that weekend," Ohio athletic director Jim Schaus told Football.com. "It should be a tremendous television audience for that football game so we are very blessed as looking forward to that opportunity. It will be great exposure for our university. We have 250,000 alumni around the country."
Ohio University, which has appeared in four straight bowl games, will be playing a Louisville team expected to be ranked in the top 10 with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
"They have a tremendous program and we have a lot of respect for them," Schaus said. "This is something we really embrace. Frank Solich has done an excellent job in building our program. We hope we have an exciting and talented to go up against a national power like Louisville. It will be a tremendous challenge for us, but I think we'll be able to go in and compete, so we'll see what happens."
Ohio's season-opening appearance against Louisville will mark the 51st time the Bobcats have played on the ESPN Family of Networks since Solich took over back in 2005.
The Bobcats made a pair of appearances on the network's primary station in 2012. Ohio's first appearance came in its season-opener at Penn State as it defeated the Nittany Lions 24-14. The Bobcats' second showing occurred in the squad's season finale in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl where Ohio posted a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said Ohio's appearance is more evidence of how the MAC is becoming a staple to college football television watchers.
"This is one of those really unique time slots at the beginning of the season," Steinbrecher said. "We were fortunate enough to have a game that was attractive to ESPN to move into that slot. The team involved was very comfortable in doing it. It's a marvelous opportunity to gain exposure for the conference in general, particularly for Ohio University."
Schaus said the conference's midweek package of televised games on ESPN has played a big role in continued exposure and is sure helped in getting a MAC team involved in the Sept. 1 package of ESPN contests.
"ESPN's midweek package is one of the incredibly defining aspects of the growth of MAC football," Schaus said. "We've done this for a decade or more. There is some inconvenience because you have to readjust your schedule late in the season, but there's no question in my mind those trade-offs are small to the tremendous national exposure we have received. It helps with enrollment, alumni relations and fundraising and school pride."