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Ranking every CUSA television schedule for the 2016 season

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It was about as hellish to differentiate as you would expect.

3: the number of national TV appearances that Charlotte will have this year.
3: the number of national TV appearances that Charlotte will have this year.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

There's been a good deal of hubbub over the CUSA schedule and what it may or may not contain in recent weeks, and everyone has had an opinion on it.

Ultimately, the thing about TV contracts is that they come with the ancillary benefit of allowing you to watch your favorite teams on TV, which we can all agree is a very good thing.

We're gonna take a different look at the Super Ultra Mega Patch Quilt of a TV contract, and look at it from the perspective on 1) number of appearances, 2) competitiveness of games televised and 3) market potential for every team in the conference.

Teams are first ranked in tiers, and then placed in order.

Without further ado, here goes.

Tier 1: Western Kentucky and Southern Miss

Western Kentucky? No shock here. They'll get nine TV appearances, and all they have to do is suffer getting bumped to ESPN3 for their likely lopsided tilt against Miami (OH). That's pretty solid, especially in Year One AD (after Doughty).

You could maybe argue that Southern Miss made out even better, given that ESPN only chose five regular season games to air on their ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU trifecta, and the Eagles scored two of them. Their tilt against Kentucky will be on ESPNU and their Friday night season finale against La Tech will be... somewhere also. (Don't quite know that one yet). Hopefully Nick Mullens doesn't get hurt and screw this up.

Tier 2: Louisiana Tech, Marshall, FAU

Now we bump down a step in terms of sheer volume of exposure, Louisiana Tech and Marshall would normally be about even, but LaTech has that ESPN game we just mentioned plus two more on the SEC Network and Fox Sports, which is a nice haul.

The Herd are still at the top of the heap on amount of exposure, but they bump a notch because ESPN didn't deem them worthy of a game. That has to sting a little extra whenever The Worldwide Leader did bother to pick up North Texas and FIU for a game each.

Seriously, ESPN decided that both North Texas-Florida and Indiana-FIU would be better than Louisville-Marshall? Way to simultaneously dis the ACC and CUSA, guys. each have six television appearances, but Marshall's is spread over only three channels (two each at CBSSN, ASN, and BeIn,) while LA Tech has a game on the SEC Network, ESPN, CBSSN, ASN, and Fox Sports.

Florida Atlantic must not have gotten too raw a deal, because neither Cyrus or Ryan (our two FAU guys) are particularly bothered by it. I have to agree; an online-exclusive ESPN3 game against Miami (FL,) a rivalry game with FIU on BeIn Sports, and an out-of-conference game against upset-prone Kansas State on Fox Sports.

Tier 3: FIU, North Texas, Rice, UTSA

FIU has three games on BeIN, which normally would hurt a team, but in this case, serves a unique clientele in the greater Miami market. FIU also has one appearance each on ESPN, CBSSN, and ASN. Maybe this way everyone will forget that they're trying to destroy some wildlife preserves in the name of FOOBAW.

North Texas... clearly Seth Littrell has paid some people off, right? Five appearances, including one each on ESPN and CBSSN, despite that second one being against Army. They were one of two teams to benefit from playing Army (a demographic CBSSN definitely cares about reeling in), as both the...*ahem*... Army West Point Black Knights of the Hudson's games will appear there.

Rice is struggling for fourth or fifth-best in the Houston market, but they're the other Army beneficiary. SIDE DISH will at least get decent eyes compared to the rest of the conference, with their tilts against Baylor, WKU and Army all making it to the "actual TV channel" portion of this year's programming.

UTSA managed to secure a home game against Arizona State and got an ESPN appearance out of it, which is certainly better than UTEP versus Texas (that's next). But that's one of only three appearances on this entire schedule, so that's a bummer.

Tier 4: UTEP, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Charlotte

This group of teams automatically falls to the bottom with not a single game on anything ESPN or CBSSN. Heck, UNCC, ODU and MTSU have a combined 11 appearances on this schedule, and seven of those don't happen until October 22nd or later.

UTEP managed to schedule a game against Texas! YES! Except...it's on the Longhorn Network that almost no one outside of Texas gets. One demerit. Two games on ASN and one on BeIN will certainly not make up for that disappointment, especially with two of those opponents being New Mexico State and Army. Ugh.

ODU tried to trick our eyes by having four really strong matchups (NC State, Southern Miss, WKU and Marshall). But then you look and see that none of those games are on ESPN Networks or CBSSN, and the NC State game on ESPN3 is the only one in the first seven weeks, which means by the time they are televised outside of Norfolk they might already be bowl ineligible.

Middle Tennessee has an "upset" worthy game against Vanderbilt on SEC Network, which is a decent start. But you can tell right away that the Blue Raiders were an afterthought, waiting two weeks between Vandy and LA Tech, and then waiting almost two months for their next TV game against Marshall.

Charlotte goes at the bottom, with only three appearances, one of which will be a borderline unwatchable game so bad that it has no commitment. It's currently "TBD" which says "yes we will agree to air this game... somewhere." Maybe this will be the beginning of that Netflix streaming deal I said CUSA should go for? Either way, Charlotte is clearly living up to its media market reputation that got it jumped to FBS to begin with.