Deconstructing schedules/The Red Line

A few weeks ago, what makes me enjoy this work came into sharper focus.

I think it was when I was getting tired of listening to all of the talk of one-and-dones and NCAA “corporate champions” that I remembered how much more I enjoy covering competition than non-competition.

I could do without spending weeks on whether or not Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback or which utilityman used performance enhancing drugs or who tweeted what to whom.

Give me data.

In fact, I think that’s why I enjoy baseball as much. Once the grind of the season begins, 162 games provides a whole lot of data to evaluate, as opposed to 16 games over a 17-week span with a whole bunch of ‘narrative’ in between.

Problem is, we don’t have a lot of games going on locally, and with more snow on the way tonight, it may still be a while.

But at least we have scheduled games, so at least there’s a framework to discuss.

First the NFL – Not only will the Packers play their regular season opener on a Thursday (Sept. 4 against defending champion Seattle), they’ll also play Minnesota in a Thursday night game at Lambeau Field on Oct. 2.

You may remember the last two times the Packers played special Thursday night games, they were available only on NFL Network, whose position on the TV listings (226 on local Charter cable) was problematic for those thrifty enough to avoid ridiculous cable bills.

The good news is CBS is picking up eight early-season Thursday games and airing them, including Packers-Vikings, so don’t call your Congressman.

The Packer opener is one of three games on Sunday Night Football, including Oct. 26 (at New Orleans) and Nov. 9 (vs. Chicago) games separated by a bye week.

In fact, that bye week (Nov. 2) is also the Lions’ bye, which means a lot of leaves in the Copper Country are likely to be raked that day.

The Lions schedule will have a wrinkle that might take some getting used to. The Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears will air on CBS – which is a little bizarre since every game on the network since they lost the NFC package to FOX in 1994 has featured at least one AFC team.

In fact, six NFC teams play on Thanksgiving and no AFC teams.

However, if you are a Lions fan, I’m guessing you want to know when to time your angry phone calls to the TV station.

Well, assuming no one changes their coverage plans, these are the Lions games that are unlikely to be available on local TV: Sept. 28 vs. the Jets (due to Packers-Bears also on FOX); Oct. 12 vs. the Vikings (Packers-Dolphins also on FOX); Oct. 19 vs. the Saints (Panthers-Packers); Nov. 23 vs. the Patriots (Packers-Vikings); Dec. 14 vs. the Vikings (Bills-Packers); and Dec. 21 vs. the Bears (Packers-Bucs).

The latter half of the season is subject to flex scheduling, but as it stands, those games conflict.

Now, to wash some of the shame of writing hundreds of words about the NFL in April, a few quick notes on recently published Michigan Tech schedules.

The football Huskies will also open their season Sept. 4, but before you start worrying about tearing yourself from the TV, know it’s on the road at Wayne State (and with a 6 p.m. start time, may be all but over when the Packers kick off at 8:30).

The Huskies travel to Malone (which plays at the same Fawcett Stadium in Canton where the annual Hall of Fame game takes place) the following weekend.

Tech’s home opener is Sept. 20 against a Saginaw Valley team mercifully without quarterback turned receiver Jon Jennings and receiver to be turned NFL draft pick Jeff Janis (who ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine).

The Miner’s Cup game is in Marquette Sept. 27 (also at night), and is followed by a rare off week necessitated by the GLIAC’s 15-team football roster.

The Huskies wrap with four home games in the last five (including Grand Valley, Ferris and Ashland) and a Deer Day season finale against Lake Erie.

The hockey schedule is similarly ‘clumpy.’ In fact, from Saturday, Jan. 10 to Winter Carnival against Bemidji State Feb. 6-7, the Huskies have nine consecutive at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, including Bowling Green, Alaska, Alabama-Huntsville and the Beavers.

Even the volleyball team is getting into the act – for the first time in several years they’ll host a non-conference tournament Sept. 4-6 at the SDC and play five home matches in three days. They’ll also finish up with five straight at home.

Until then, we wait.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.