Underscoring ESPN’s special relationship with college football is the fact that it created and owns the software used for scheduling games. The online portal, known as the Pigskin Access Scheduling System, or PASS, is now used by virtually all conferences and colleges, as well as competing networks. Generally, the colleges work together to set up nonconference matchups, but sometimes they reach out to ESPN for a suggestion, or even to play matchmaker.
In January, Bob Arkeilpane, the deputy athletic director at Cincinnati, sent an e-mail to an ESPN executive, Dave Brown. Mr. Arkeilpane explained in the message, which was obtained by The Times, that Cincinnati would be opening a new premium seating area and press box in 2015 and needed a top-tier opponent.
Mr. Brown, who is well known for his thick Rolodex, wrote back that morning, “Will do — let me look and see what’s out there for ’15.”
Smart on the part of ESPN, but sad on the part of these universities. Though hardly shocking.