One would be the big game of the week. The other, more often than not, would be Notre Dame.
Like the Braves in the 80s with their TBS deal, the familiarity with Notre Dame through TV led folks to either love the Irish or despise them. But like them or hate them, you envied where they stood in the media world.
Fast forward to now. Notre Dame built on its exclusiveness to the point where it became the first school to get its own network TV contract in 1991 that has, in time, marginalized the once great power and made its partner, NBC, a college football afterthought. Now, Texas is threatening to go down a similar road of exclusiveness to the point of irrelevance with its fledgling TV network, which is threatening to make Texas have no choice but to become an independent as no conference, including its own Big 12, wants to be associated with a TV deal that gives one program a build-in competitive advantage against all its rivals.
With all the angling for exclusiveness from Notre Dame, perhaps still the most important historical program in the sport, and Texas, currently the sport's most profitable program, neither have mastered the media this year like LSU.
That's right, LSU.
A Tigers game will be featured on ESPN's GameDay for the second time in four weeks today when the No. 2-ranked Tigers visit No. 16 West Virginia. The game, an ABC prime time broadcast, will be the third in four games where LSU held a prime time national TV slot. Two of these games will have been on ABC, Oregon and West Virginia.
For kids growing up and discovering the game right now, they may be looking at LSU today in much the way we did growing up watching Notre Dame monopolize TV (although in this day and age where you can watch dozens of college football games on a given Saturday LSU is far less exclusive).
The Tigers are doing it without ever trying for a network TV deal or even the threat of their own channel.
LSU's approach is just the opposite of that. Instead of trying to make itself exclusive, LSU is succeeding making itself very much a part of the mainstream process. The Tigers are meeting good teams at neutral sites (two national TV neutral site games in two years).
They are playing home-and-homes with big-time programs. And they are in the sport's most relevant conference.
This year, the schedule has included a neutral site game against Oregon, last year's national runners-up. Then there was a Thursday night national TV game at Mississippi State. Now, it's on to Morgantown.
It's a built-for-TV schedule that only gets better with No. 3 Alabama, defending national champion Auburn and Florida still ahead.
And it all points in one direction: Contention for a BCS national championship. LSU is following what is widely perceived as the blueprint for achieving such a goal and you can't oversell the importance of that because to a 17-year-old high school student -- the kind of people college programs are working hard to attract every year-- the BCS is all they know. It's been around since 1998. High school seniors were about four at the time.
That means all current prospects know in college football is a system with BCS automatic qualifier leagues, conference championship games, Harris Interactive Polls and that one game at the end of all the bowls that decides the champion. To get there, you have to be in a power league -- the SEC being the most powerful -- and it can't hurt if you win a big, non-conference national game or two early.
In other words, you do what LSU is doing.
Forget remembering when Notre Dame seemed to monopolize college football on TV, up-and-coming players can't even relate to how an independent not in a BCS league can possibly win a national championship, something Notre Dame used to do all the time before the BCS, but not any more. Heck, high school prospects don't even remember when all the big bowls were on New Year's Day.
It's a BCS, ESPN world now.
The SEC is the king of that world and LSU is, at the moment, its prize catch. And it didn't need an exclusive contract with NBC or ESPN to get there.