College football ratings took a precipitous dive in 2010, and we know why: the absence of legendary punter and Space Emperor (Of Space,) Michigan Wolverine and current NFL punter Zoltan Mesko. This happens with college football. People leave, and often they are irreplaceable. We'll always have the t-shirts, though, Zoltan.
The declines were nearly universal. CBS's ratings went down by -4.5% in its SEC broadcasts, likely a side effect of Florida tanking hard and often without ratings magnet Tim Tebow. (This sentence sponsored by Dan Shanoff.) ABC's mixed slate of ACC, Big Twelve, and Pac-10 games in regional coverage declined 10%, with the implosion of name brand Texas being a likely contributor. NBC's Notre Dame coverage fell off by 12.5%; ESPN stayed even on the year.
Nine of the top ten most-watched games involved Alabama or Auburn, thus proving conclusively that a Cam Newton-centric universe is bad for college football as a whole. (It doesn't, actually, but try to tell an irate huffy columnist that when he cites these in a week or two.) The lack of quality competitive intersectional games likely had something to do with the slide, as well. Besides Boise/Virginia Tech, the pickings were very slim on the year.
The only beneficiaries from this year's ratings debacle? Versus, whose mix of Pac-10 and Mountain West games saw a 50% leap over 2009's numbers. Admittedly, that kind of gain comes from numbers dwarfed by ABC/ESPN's and CBS's, but let's have a round of applause for sports tv's wacky odds-n-ends shop for a job well done. Next up: Versus' exciting new hybrid of the Tour de France and the running of the Bulls, the Tour d'Pamplona! <-----would watch <----all day.