Odd as it seems, CBS, which gets the first choice of Southeastern Conference football games to broadcast each Saturday during the regular season, will air a Missouri game for the first time this year when Mizzou faces Auburn in the SEC championship game Saturday.
Even CBS voices said that’s a shame, and the talent has ramped-up preparation.
“I’m ankle deep in Missouri notes right now,” said lead announcer Verne Lundquist during a conference call Tuesday.
“We owe the (Missouri) Tigers a lot of respect for what they accomplished, and it will be our challenge to tell the Missouri story in equal amounts to the Auburn story.”
As he does during regular-season game preparation, analyst Gary Danielson will be in Columbia on Wednesday to watch practice and speak with coach Gary Pinkel and team personnel.
“The coach needs to see me in person,” Danielson said. “We’re going to critique them and say things, and I want to make sure he knows when we say something he doesn’t agree with, he knows we at least went there and saw him.
“We owe the team that work.”
Among SEC East schools, CBS showed five Georgia games, three each for Florida and Tennessee and Vanderbilt once. Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky did not appear on CBS this season.
“It’s not an exact science,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. “We pick a game that maximizes viewer interest and television ratings. I wish we had had Missouri on. They’re tough calls.”
Rankings, league standing and star power are some of the factors that go into the decision of games to select for broadcast.
Texas A&M, with dynamic quarterback Johnny Manziel, had four appearances, as did two-time defending national champion Alabama.
CBS struck gold with Auburn’s last two games: the Nov. 16 victory over Georgia that was won on a long tipped pass for a touchdown; and last weekend’s Iron Bowl, won by Auburn on a field-length missed field-goal return.
Missouri provided some dramatic moments, but they were captured on other networks. On Oct. 12, when Missouri won at Georgia on ESPN, CBS selected Florida at LSU. On Oct. 26, when the Tigers lost to South Carolina in double overtime on ESPN2, the CBS call was Tennessee at Alabama.
Mizzou was late to the national radar, projected to finish sixth of seven in the SEC East preseason poll, and not entering the top 10 until its seventh game.
A year ago, Missouri had two CBS appearances and was squashed by South Carolina and Alabama.
But Lundquist and Danielson said Missouri won’t be short-shrifted in the coverage.
“Missouri has had a magical season, and we will document it to the fullest,” Lundquist said. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”