As 2014 comes to a close, this column also finishes up for the year with a couple of items of note relating to football on TV.
The first item involves what is ostensibly a home bowl game for Stanford. After appearing in the Rose Bowl two years in a row and the Orange Bowl the year before that, the Cardinal have this year been relegated to a lowly bowl game with the naming rights of a well-known producer of poultry products. However, one might argue that the Cardinal’s poor performance this season barely qualifies them for any bowl appearance, so they’re lucky to get this one.
In any case, the Cardinal will take the field Tuesday night at the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara. They’ll face another unranked team, the Maryland Terrapins, at 7 p.m. on ESPN. It’s a kickoff that’s late enough that no one East of us, with the exception of Maryland fans, will bother to stay up to watch. Nevertheless, it’s an opportunity for Stanford to win a bowl game in front of its fans.
Moving on to the second item…
For further proof that it’s been a tough year for Bay Area football fans, look no further than the NFL Playoffs which, for the first time in three years, will take place without the 49ers. While word of Jim Harbaugh’s parting with the team and his return to Michigan continue to ruminate, the playoffs will kick off this weekend without any Bay Area representation. Here’s the lineup.
They kick off with the first ever playoff contest on ESPN. The network has aired the NFL since 1987, but has never telecast a playoff game till now. The matchup it gets for its inaugural playoff telecast? The Cardinals at the Panthers. Not the best matchup this weekend, but ESPN is probably happy just to finally be invited to the party. Kickoff is Saturday at 1:35 p.m.
NBC goes next. The peacock, which normally has a doubleheader on the first day of NFL playoffs, will now offer only one contest. This year, it’s a rematch between AFC North foes, the Ravens and the Steelers. Kickoff is Saturday at 5:15 p.m. on channel 11. Don’t feel sorry for NBC losing one of its allotted playoff spots. The network will actually benefit from the switch as you’ll see below.
On Sunday morning, CBS takes over as it features the Bengals at the Colts with kickoff just after 10 a.m. on channel 5. And finally, Fox concludes the first week of playoffs with the Lions at the Cowboys, Sunday at 1:40 p.m. on channel 2.
The following weekend, NBC will lead off with the lowest remaining AFC seed at the Patriots, Saturday January 10th at 1:35 p.m. on channel 11. Then Fox has the lowest remaining NFC seed at the Seahawks at 5:15 p.m. on channel 2. Same channel for the Sunday, January 11th 10 a.m. kickoff featuring the highest remaining NFC seed at the Packers, followed by the highest remaining AFC seed at the Broncos, 1:40 p.m. on channel 5.
See? NBC gave up a first-round playoff game for a second-round matchup. It’s actually CBS that loses a game to ESPN.
By the way, this year the NFC Championship Game goes first. Kickoff is Sunday, January 18th at noon on Fox, followed by the AFC Championship at 3:40 p.m. on CBS. The Super Bowl is Sunday February 1st at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.
The big question is will any of this matter to 49er fans who tend to ignore any games, including playoff games, that don’t feature the 49ers. It’s going to be a long off-season around here.