Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Husker Cone of Silence

One of the more disturbing trends over the past couple of years in the "Husker Nation" is a lack of tolerance for criticism. In the past 2 years, Pinnacle Sports has terminated both Gary Sharp and John Bishop, both of whom weren't afraid to speak critically when they felt it was necessary.

Now, Nebraska is beginning to pull sports from NET, Nebraska's public television network. In January, a Husker wrestling match was pulled from the airwaves. And now Nebraska has signed with Cox Cable in Omaha to televise Husker baseball, ending a 25 year run of baseball on ETV. Why Cox Cable? Possibly for money, since Cox can sell TV commercials unlike ETV. However, outside of Cox Cable subscribers, this will black out Husker baseball to the majority of the state. Time Warner Cable, who serves Lincoln and many other areas of the state, doesn't sound optimistic. Certainly, this will not expand the audience for Husker baseball with the games only on in part of the Omaha metro area.

Folks in the media business think that Nebraska is pulling the broadcasts from ETV to "punish" Kevin Kugler for critical commentary of Steve Pederson and Nebraska on his "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" radio show on KOZN 1620-AM.

What does this mean to the fan? Simply put...less coverage of Nebraska sports. It's bad for the fans, and worse, it's also bad for the Cornhuskers.

Why is it bad for the Huskers in the end? Simple. It won't silence the criticism. And furthermore, it opens up broadcast opportunities for Nebraska's competitors. NET will now carry Creighton baseball statewide.

This afternoon, KXSP's Matt Perrault called out Nebraska's coaches, asking them to push to end Pinnacle's exclusive contract with Pinnacle Sports to allow the coaches to be interviewed on other Nebraska radio stations. Currently both KXSP and KOZN feature weekly interviews with Dan McCarney, and frequently interview coaches from other schools, such as Kansas State's Ron Prince. With the growth of sports talk radio, the teams that Nebraska is now fighting with for recruits are now gaining unprecendented access to Nebraska's radio airwaves to influence folks.

Nebraska can't keep on trying to silence criticism. It is simply counterproductive.


torear said...

It's quite ironic that now, not only does NET now only contract with Creighton to put statewide baseball broadcasts on the air, but CU's radio broadcasts now consist of... Kevin Kugler and John Bishop. Funny.

If one reads between the lines of refusing to terminate Collier and moving their baseball broadcasts to commercial television- is Pederson's athletic department, and a certain highly visible construction project, in more financial trouble than they're letting on?

Husker Mike said...

It's been generally accepted that the $50 million fund drive has gone abysmally over the past couple of years. They've apparantly received some more donations recently, but there have been no announcements with the number of zeroes in it.

The only area of fundraising that has had success is in selling the new seats. Word is that most of the new stadium seats required a $500 donation, which is considerably higher than seats have needed over the past few years.

unklB in Huskerland said...

It's refreshing to listen to ESPN in Lincoln - Ave Joe sportshow once in a while - they don't pull any punches re. Husker Nation...