Upon us, like a swarm of lawyers chasing ambulances, is the incredible glut of college football. In the second year of all-you-can-eat televised football deregulation, many independent syndicators have gone under or cut back, but the big boys are increasing their turf claims.
During this regular season, ABC will cover 22 games and CBS 21. Superstation WTBS has a 28-game schedule, ESPN is slated for 22 games and USA 21. All of those figures represent increases from 1984.
Here's your handy, clip-and-save guide to viewing college football during the 1985 season:
Thursdays: Start your weekend right with ESPN's Games Nobody Else Would Televise series. America's largest cable network has a five-game 9 p.m. schedule, including Cal State-Fullerton at San Jose State, Wichita State at Fresno State and New Mexico State at Nevada-Las Vegas.
If your friends are skeptical about joining you, throw a Pacific Coast Athletic Association costume party, having guests dress up as the mascot of their favorite PCAA team. Give away door prizes to those who can name two or more starters for each televised team.
Fridays: With no college football slated, this is a good day to pore over PCAA depth charts, familiarize yourself with the weekend TV schedule and rememorize your children's names.
Saturdays: If you don't have cable, your choices are just reasonably complex. If you do have cable, your choices are extraordinarily complex.
For noncable viewers -- On WJLA-TV-7, there usually will be an early afternoon Atlantic Coast Conference game followed by a 3:30 p.m. nationally televised CFA game from ABC.
On WDVM-TV-9, there will be nationally televised afternoon games from CBS, usually involving Big Ten, Pacific-10 and ACC teams.
On WBFF-TV-45, there will be a series of 8 p.m. games (Pitt-Ohio State, Oklahoma-Minnesota, et al.) that essentially will duplicate superstation WTBS' schedule.
On WDCA-TV-20, there will be several noon games duplicating those seen on USA cable.
And on WNVC-TV-56, Northern Virginia's funky, flaky, frisky, flighty, fiery, fickle, freewheeling, frolicking, full of fun public television station, there will be the usual unusual schedule of Southwest Conference and Big Eight games.
For cable viewers -- On top of your free-TV options, you now have the chance to do something that folks such as Aristotle, Columbus and Lindbergh never dreamed possible. You can watch every Division I-A and Division I-AA team in the nation by December. You can compile your own top 20. You can pick the player of the week. You can select the all-America team. And you can explain to future generations how Western civilization crumbled at the hands of a remote-control dial-changer.
WTBS has an afternoon schedule heavy on Southeastern Conference games and an 8 p.m. schedule concentrating on the Big Ten, Pacific-10 and ACC.
ESPN will have a schedule of 7:30 p.m. CFA games that it will select after ABC chooses its telecasts.
USA has a noon schedule of telecasts that will be selected the day of the game after ABC, CBS, WTBS and ESPN make their choices.
Home Team Sports has an afternoon schedule featuring Eastern and Southern schools, including three Virginia Tech games, and will show every Maryland game on tape at 11:30 p.m.
Sundays: What once was a day of rest is now a day of replays. Sandwiched around NFL games, you can complete an impressive nonstop, 36-hour viewing explosion each and every weekend that will make you an easy target at divorce court hearings.
Locally, HTS will again replay each Maryland game at 10:30 a.m. and show delayed broadcasts of top regional games, including four West Virginia and four Florida contests, at 7:30 p.m. HTS also will have a series of taped games at 11:30 p.m.
Somebody's got to say it, so it may as well be me -- hey, Larry King, it's time you let somebody else take a broadcasting job.
King is America's finest radio talk host. But here is a man who does his Mutual radio show five nights a week, a Cable News Network talk show five nights a week, plus occasional appearances on Home Team Sports' telecasts of Baltimore Orioles and Washington Capitals games. He also writes for USA Today.
And now, he has joined NBC to do a weekly segment on "NFL '85." He might be perfect in his new role, but it is possible to get too much of a good King.
Credit Chuck Thompson and Brooks Robinson with a truth-in-broadcasting award. Nearly three hours into the Orioles' 11-8 victory over the Mariners one recent night from Seattle's Kingdome, this was the conversation:
Thompson: "Well, it's 20 after 1 back in Baltimore. I bet a lot of people went to sleep back when it was 10 to nothing." Robinson: "I did."