Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Burning Gator Question

Why are there no Gators in Albany? It's no joke. Sunday's Times Union carried an editorial by Scott Powell of Rexford lamenting CBS' lack of coverage of his favorite basketball team, the Florida Gators:
Here I am, yet another weekend, at home with 44 college basketball teams playing on television today, none of which were the No. 1 team in the country. Each Saturday since the season has started, I check the morning paper to see if the Florida Gators will join Northern Iowa, Bradley, Creighton, James Madison, Cornell and a host of other national powerhouse programs on television, only to be disappointed. With anywhere from 20 to 30 games being televised each weekend, I have managed to watch the defending national champs twice.

So what intriguing matchup did we get to watch last weekend on CBS, while the rest of the country watched Florida at Vanderbilt? Army at Navy. I know there are 10 or 12 people in the Capital Region who were on the edge of their seats waiting to watch this classic of two 13-10 college programs . . .

This intrigued me a bit, so I sent off an e-mail to the local CBS affiliate, who advised me that it wasn't their decision which game to cover, they just took what was on the national feed. I haven't yet gotten around to asking CBS, but it's on my list of things to do. First, I'd like to know if the rest of the country really watched Florida-Vanderbilt while Albany got Army-Navy. If so, of course, the next question is: why?

Updates as they happen. Stay tuned - - or not, if you're out at a sports bar catching the next Gator game.

UPDATE (3/6/07) Sunday's Times Union carried a response to Powell's letter, this from John Furgele of Delmar:

Lastly, a writer from Rexford wrote in that he was dismayed that CBS would air an Army-Navy college basketball over the overlooked and No. 1-ranked Florida Gators. The reason for this was a simple one. When CBS won the rights to broadcast the Army-Navy football game, one of the provisions was that the network had to show one Army-Navy basketball game per year during the contract. Sometimes, to get one, you must take another, and that's the case here.

That doesn't, of course, necessarily suggest that Powell was wrong or even off base in his complaint. For one, it might have been possible for CBS to pre-empt some other game besides a one-two matchup. If it's only necessary to broadcast one game, that seems to imply the network can choose which one to knock off. For two, maybe this price of getting the Army-Navy football game isn't worth paying.

Still no word back either from the WRGB programming director or from CBS itself. Maybe I'll follow up with some more pointed questions.

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