NCAA late-night madness

Neilson Barnard


In the past year or so, we've seen some major changes in the world of late-night TV, reaching all the way from the giants of broadcast television to the premium subscription networks. New hosts have taken over old shows, and new shows have been created to compete with them. This is all very exciting for fans of comedy (like myself). However, all of this talk of talk shows begs the very obvious question: If the late-night shows were a competition, how would the Big Ten fare? I'm sure you've been lying awake at night wondering. Well, wonder no more. I've saved you the trouble of looking up all those Wikipedia pages to bring you the answers. Let's break it down, network by network.


The Peacock gives us The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers, who took over for Mr. Fallon when he made the big move to 11:35pm. Mr. Fallon hails from New York and attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany. Apparently, The College of Saint Rose is part of something called the Northeast-10 Conference, which sounds suspiciously made up to me. (I'm just saying that I've never seen them in the Bowl before.) Mr. Meyers, on the other hand, is from Evanston and graduated from Northwestern.


B1G: 1; Imaginary conferences: 1


ABC is owned by Disney, which isn't really surprising when you realize that Disney also owns things like ESPN, Star Wars, Marvel, and, of course, a talking, anthropomorphic mouse. Soon Disney will probably own the whole world, and those Mickey Mouse hats will be required wearing for all happy citizens of the small world after all. For now, their only contribution is Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which, like most things in Hollywood, is a lie-it's prerecorded, not live. Mr. Kimmel is also from New York, though he attended (but did not graduate from) Arizona State, a team you may recall from that time they lost to the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. We should probably count that as another point for the B1G, but we'll be nice for now.


B1G: 1; Imaginary conferences: 1; Pac-12: 1


The Flaming Eye of Sauron's network (look at that logo and tell me it isn't gazing into your soul from the depths of Mordor) gives us two: Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Mr. Letterman is a native of Indiana and has said that, if he'd been able to afford it, he'd have attended Indiana University. He ended up graduating from Ball State. However, we're definitely counting him as one of us, because, otherwise, we have to give him to the MAC, and we can't do that to a legend like Letterman. Craig Ferguson is British, so I assume he went to Oxford. Or maybe he was privately tutored by the Queen and James Bond? I don't know how higher education works in the UK. He has a robot skeleton for a cohost, so things are obviously a bit different. (Author's note: As of the time when I wrote this article, CBS had announced that Craig Ferguson would be leaving the network, but they had not named a replacement. If they do name one between the submission and publication of this very scholarly, very professional article, we're all going to pretend that we didn't see that news for a few days, because I don't want to update another draft of this.)


B1G: 2; Imaginary conferences: 1; Pac-12: 1; Her Royal Majesty: 1


After the debacle that went down after he briefly took over The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien went to TBS (of March Madness fame) and started a new show called Conan, named in honor of the barbarian of lore. Mr. O'Brien is from Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard. Ugh, why does the Ivy League always insist on being included?


B1G: 2; Imaginary conferences: 1; Pac-12: 1; Her Royal Majesty: 1; Nerds: 1

Comedy Central

No discussion of late-night television would be complete without The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Mr. Stewart, from New Jersey, attended The College of William & Mary, a Colonial Athletic Association school. We could try to claim him for being from New Jersey now that Rutgers is here, but I'm not ready to take our relationship with them to that level. Plus, that's another conference that I think some kids online made up. Mr. Colbert grew up in the SEC state of South Carolina, but he saw the light and graduated from Northwestern. Next year, Mr. Colbert will be taking over for Mr. Letterman on CBS and will be replaced by Larry Wilmore, a California comedian who doesn't get a point yet because he isn't a host.


B1G: 3; Imaginary conferences: 2; Pac-12: 1; Her Royal Majesty: 1; Nerds: 1


Daily Show veteran John Oliver took his talents to HBO this year. His new show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, offers a weekly recap of breaking news all without the need to bleep out the naughty words. Mr. Oliver, like Craig Ferguson, is British. Again, I have no idea how things work over there. For all I know, he went to a school run by corgis and the Royal Baby housed inside the Tower of London.


B1G: 3; Imaginary conferences: 2; Pac-12: 1; Her Royal Majesty: 2; Nerds: 1

And there you have it, folks. Undeniable evidence that the Big Ten is the greatest of all the conferences. ARE YOU EVEN TRYING, SEC?

Honorable mentions: Steve Higgins, Jimmy Fallon's announcer/sidekick, is from Iowa and attended (but did not graduate from) the University of Iowa. Andy Richter, the announcer and sidekick on Conan, is from Michigan and went to school in Chicago. Craig Ferguson's robot sidekick is voiced by Josh Robert Thompson, an actor from good old Cleveland.

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