CSN to air live coverage of 'IHSA Playoff Pairing Release Show' on Oct. 20

CSN to air live coverage of 'IHSA Playoff Pairing Release Show' on Oct. 20

COMCAST SPORTSNET CHICAGO TO AIR LIVE COVERAGE OF IHSA PLAYOFF PAIRING RELEASE SHOW ON OCTOBER 20

CSN to carry LIVE announcement for every first round match-up on Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 PM; to also be streamed live on CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv

For the second-straight year, network to also carry live coverage of all eight IHSA Football Championships from Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL (Nov. 23 & 24)

Bloomington, ILChicago, IL (October 16, 2012) -- In conjunction with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and the IHSAs production partner, PlayOn! Sports, Comcast SportNet Chicago, the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, has announced it will once again be the home for postseason high school football in Illinois in 2012. This joint partnership will include the airing and live stream of the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Release Show on October 20 and the IHSA Football State Championship games on November 23-24.

Comcast SportsNet will be the first media outlet to reveal the first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes during the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Release Show, which will air LIVE from CSNs downtown Chicago studios on Saturday October 20 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fans can also watch the brackets unveiled via live interactive stream on the internet at IHSA.tv and CSNChicago.com.

Five weeks later, Comcast SportsNet will air the culminating event of the season as 16 teams from around the state converge upon the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium in Champaign. The Class 1A-4A championships will unfold on Friday, November 23, with the Class 5A-8A tilts coming on Saturday, November 24. The first game will kickoff at 10 a.m. each day, with each subsequent game to follow.

We are always focusing on providing our viewers with the very best local sports coverage available and being able to feature some of the finest preps athletes in the state of Illinois is something were definitely excited to showcase once again, said Phil Bedella, VPGM of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Release Show and our live coverage of all eight state title games will be an excellent addition to our already stellar line-up of local sports programming. We also appreciate the support of the IHSA and PlayOn! Sports in helping us make the pairings show and the championships available to our viewers.

High school football in Illinois is a special tradition, said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. From the unique playoff pairing show, to the state championships, it is a very special time for so many communities. Comcast SportsNet Chicagos commitment to the IHSA and our member schools means that we will be able deliver a superior product to a larger audience in Illinois and beyond.

The pairings show and title games will be distributed to Comcast SportsNet Chicagos entire viewing territory. Viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com to find the exact channel locations in their area.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FOR IHSA FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PAIRING RELEASE SHOW (Sat, Oct. 20 at 8pm)

Fans will be able to interact with the playoff pairing show in a real-time chat on Saturday, October 20 by visiting CSNChicago.com, where they can make comments or ask questions that may be read on the air. Fans can also interact via Twitter by using the hashtag IHSA. Teams who are gathering to watch the program are encouraged to submit photos to be shown during the program, by tweeting them with IHSA or directly to @IHSA_IL or emailing them to mtroha@ihsa.org. All submitted photos will be included in CSNChicago.coms online gallery.

The show will be hosted by Comcast SportsNet anchorreporter and Downers Grove North High School alum Susannah Collins, along with longtime IHSA TV Network personality Dave Bernhard and Kankakee Daily Journal prep writer & the states resident high school football bracketologist, Steve Soucie.

The show will feature:

-The release of the 32-team brackets in all eight classes, as all 256 playoff qualifiers find out their first round playoff opponents and path to Champaign for the first time.
-Highlights from nearly 100 schools from around the state
-Analysis from experts on nearly 100 teams from across Illinois
-Live look-ins and photos from schools hosting playoff pairing parties
-Interviews with coaches and media
-State Championship game picks from a statewide media panel
-CSN Interactive segments with fans

Nicole Darin will host IHSA on CSN Interactive, a live web stream and chat that will offer viewers the opportunity to interact directly with Collins, Bernhard and Soucie. Viewer questions and comments will be featured throughout the show and posted on CSNChicago.com.

Follow IHSA on Twitter @IHSA_IL (IHSA)

Follow Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Twitter @CSNChicago

Become a fan of IHSA on Facebook at http:www.facebook.comIHSA.IL

Become a fan of CSN Chicago on Facebook at http:www.facebook.comCSNChicago

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead