Will College Football Sell in New York?

Tom Sileo Contributor
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In the early 2000s, Tim Pernetti was responsible for deciding which cities saw which college-football games on ABC. It’s mostly a no-brainer job—Pac-10 games in Los Angeles, Big Ten in Chicago, SEC in Atlanta, and problems rarely arose. Except each week, he had to do the one job he dreaded: picking the game that New York City would watch.

“We spent hours and hours deciding. It was frustrating,” said Mr. Pernetti, then ABC Sports’ director of programming and now Rutgers’ athletic director. “There’s no real recipe, and there’s really not another city like it.”

The relationship between college football and the city is one of the wackiest things in New York sports. The last significant game played in the area was in 2002. Only one market in the entire country had a lower TV rating for last year’s BCS national-championship game (New York was 55th, Providence, R.I., was 56th). So there’s a case to be made that being New York’s college-football team in recent years is a bit like being Albuquerque’s curling team.

But a confluence of new stadiums, new strategies to take New York and even a bowl game has resulted in something the city hasn’t seen in years: a crowded college-football landscape, a heightened battle to be the region’s team and, dare we say, a college-football renaissance in New York.

The major games begin this season with Army-Rutgers and Navy-Notre Dame in October at the New Meadowlands Stadium and Notre Dame-Army in November at Yankee Stadium.

The tradition of historically black colleges playing annually in New York will continue as well. On Sept. 25, Howard will face Morgan State in the New York Urban League Classic at the Meadowlands.

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