http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/s...balls-most-dominant-player-its-espn.html?_r=2& By JAMES ANDREW MILLER, STEVE EDER and RICHARD SANDOMIR August 24, 2013 ESPN In the early 1980s, ESPN was a fledgling cable network without the money to compete for important games. The nation’s annual rite of mayhem and pageantry known as the college football season begins this week, and Saturday will feature back-to-back-to-back marquee matchups. At the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, last year’s national champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will battle the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. Earlier in the day in Houston, Oklahoma State will play Mississippi State in the Texas Kickoff Classic. And that night in Arlington, Tex., Louisiana State and Texas Christian will face off in the Cowboys Classic. The games will not just be televised by ESPN. They are creations of ESPN — demonstrations of the sports network’s power over college football. The teams were not even on each other’s schedules until ESPN, looking to orchestrate early-season excitement and ratings, went to work. The 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic came together more than two years ago when one of the network’s programming czars noticed that Alabama was not scheduled to play this Labor Day weekend, brought the Tide on board and found a worthy opponent.