This upcoming weekend is arguably the best college hockey weekend of the season. The schedule is filled with rivalry games, top 10 pairings and three outdoor games. Yet as you peruse this weekend's college hockey TV schedule, you won't find Boston College's Frozen Fenway matchup against Northeastern televised anywhere.
You can, however, catch No. 3 Notre Dame take on No. 10 Northern Michigan at Compton Family Ice Arena tonight on CBS College Sports. You can also catch Boston University at Northeastern on NESN (7:30), Michigan at Ohio State on the Big Ten Network (7:30), Minnesota Duluth at Nebraska-Omaha on NBC Sports Network (8:30), Minnesota at North Dakota on FOX Sports North (8:30) and Bemidji State at Denver on Root Sports (9:30). And that's just Friday night.
On Saturday, you can watch Northern Michigan take on Michigan State at 7:30 p.m (Fox Sports Detroit) and Minnesota-North Dakota (8 pm on Fox Sports North). And on Sunday, Michigan and Ohio State play in their own outdoor game at Cleveland's Progressive Field at 5 PM. That game will be televised by Fox College Sports.
Grant briefly touched upon this point yesterday, but how does BC's outdoor game against Northeastern go completely untelevised -- all while you can catch the Bemidji State, Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan hockey programs on TV this weekend?
I get that FSG is going to do whatever it has to do to sell tickets to this game, and all reports are that ticket sales for BC's Frozen Fenway 2.0 are soft. But if you are as irked as I am that BC-Northeastern is going untelevised, then you should definitely write both Gene DeFilippo and the Athletics Department and voice your displeasure.
The A.D. seems largely uninterested in Boston College hockey, allowing Jerry York to run his program as he sees fit. The results, obviously, speak for themselves -- 3 National Championships in 11 seasons, nine Frozen Four appearances, eight Hockey East Tournament championships and five regular season titles.
However, there will come a time in the not-so-distant future when York isn't roaming the bench (after which, man tears will be shed) and you can watch all Notre Dame hockey home games on the network formerly known as Versus.
In my mind, there isn't a more powerful college hockey recruiting tool that national TV exposure. For a program with the history, tradition and prestige of Boston College hockey, the Eagles risk falling well behind its peer programs with respect to national TV coverage going forward.
Notre Dame has a national TV deal with NBC Sports Net to televise all Irish home games. The Big Ten Hockey Conference has the BTN. The NCHC is pursuing a national TV deal and, get this, are letting NBC Sports Net, CBS Sports Net and FOX Sports regional affiliates bid on the conference's media rights. And in the interim, the non-Big Ten western powers all have deals with regional sports networks to carry a majority of their games.
All the while, Hockey East seems content to bring the Irish -- strapped with baggage in the form of their own separate TV contract -- into the fold while inking its own 4-year deal with NESN to broadcast just 16 games a year. Those 16 games will be spread across the 10 HEA members, meaning there will only be a few BC games on NESN each year. And those games will certainly take a backseat to coverage of the Red Sox and Bruins.
Frankly, that's not good enough. Boston College should be leading the charge to land a better TV media rights deal that is on par with the NCHC and the BTHC, two conferences that have yet to play a game, as well as Notre Dame hockey's individual TV media rights deal.
There are those that subscribe to the mantra that "any additional TV coverage is good for the sport of college hockey" and by extension, Boston College hockey. I'm not one of those people. I think "any additional TV coverage" is good for the program's who end up on TV the most, and the sport in general receives a much smaller portion of the benefit.
If you agree, let Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna, Gene DeFilippo, NESN, the Fenway Sports Group -- anyone that will listen -- that this isn't good enough for BC and Hockey East. Boston College should be proactive in positioning itself for future success; not sitting idly while lesser college hockey programs gain more and more national TV exposure.
BC hockey's most powerful recruiting tool -- Coach York -- won't be around forever, and the A.D. should take pains to preserve the success of the one National Championship-calibre varsity sport on the Heights.