To nobody's surprise, the Big XII's television partners (ABC, ESPN, FSN, and Versus) all declined to televise the first two Nebraska football games against Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. Jeff Sagarin's end of season 2008 ratings had Florida Atlantic rated #102 and Arkansas State #107. Don't look for the Huskers other non-conference game to be televised either, as Louisiana Lafayette finished last season rated #106.
What does that mean? If you want to watch the games, call your cable or satellite provider because these games are headed to pay-per-view once again. Is it better than listening to the game on the radio? Maybe, unless you don't take into consideration the lasting effects of Husker fans' willingness to pay $29.95 to watch Nebraska football. Last season, the TV networks passed on the Nebraska/Kansas game, choosing instead to show Iowa State/Colorado. That decision was likely influenced by the prospect of making more revenue from selling the game on pay-per-view instead of selling commercials.
The real blame for this goes to Steve Pederson's awful scheduling; there's no excuse for playing three Sun Belt teams in 2009. Two, perhaps. Three, absolutely not. Budgets require playing three non-conference home games each season, so that could justify two Sun Belt games. (I'd hope Nebraska could do better, though.) The other game should be a home-and-home against a BCS or at least an upper-half mid-major foe. Fortunately, once Pederson's scheduling mess is overwith, it looks like the schedules are improving down the line.
Still no word on the television coverage for the Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech game, though. This game will be televised under the ACC television coverage package. Looking at the college football schedule, the Huskers/Hokies game looks like one of the better matchups on September 19th. ABC has already chosen Texas Tech at Texas for their prime-time game, and CBS will almost assuredly take Tennessee at Florida for prime time as well. Other games on the schedule that will fight for TV coverage include Kansas at Duke (yeah right), Kansas State at UCLA (hee hee), Utah at Oregon, and UConn at Baylor. I don't see any games even remotely approaching the Huskers and Hokies, so I look for ABC to grab this game for a 2:30 kickoff or ESPN for a primetime matchup. Since ABC already selected the Tech/Texas game for primetime, I doubt they'd do a split-national broadcast with yet another Big XII team.
(Correction: The Duke game is at Kansas, and will be televised by Versus.)
Speaking of media coverage, UNO has announced that they are moving Maverick sports broadcasts to the campus radio station, KVNO 90.3 FM. I have mixed feelings on this, as I'm worried that UNO will lose exposure on a non-traditional station. Hopefully Kevin Kugler and Mike'l Severe will still cover UNO sports even though they won't be carried on their station. (Trev Alberts probably could solve that problem simply by agreeing to a weekly interview on "Unsportsmanlike Conduct".) The upside of this decision is that KVNO should have better coverage in the metro area, especially at night. KKAR seems to fade out at night as you hit the western city limits, and according to the FCC, the KVNO signal should reach Fremont. It's going to be an odd fit: sports and classical music. But it can't be any more bizarre than the idea of former Z-92 morning zoo host Otis Twelve spinning Mozart in the morning.