Thursday, November 23, 2006

Here Come the CuCu Puffs!

Despite the designation of Colorado as the "Rival" game by ABC, I'm not sure that Colorado is the rival of the Huskers. KMTV-channel 3 in Omaha ran an online survey and it's 63% Not a rival. Personally, I don't think Nebraska really has a true archrival. Nebraska and Oklahoma have a tradition of playing great, meaningful games, but if you ask the Sooners, their rival is Tejas. Tom Shatel is calling for the Huskers and Sooners to play every season on the day after Thanksgiving, but I don't look for that to happen anytime soon. Forcing Nebraska and Oklahoma to play each season would throw the balance of the conference off; it certainly would increase the strength of both teams schedules and probably mean that other teams would have a much easier conference schedule.

This matchup certainly has led to some weird results over the last few years. The home team hasn't won since 2001. The discrepancy between the two teams' records reminds me of 2000, when a 3-7 angry bunch of Puffaloes came into Lincoln and gave the Huskers all they could handle. CU mounted a late comeback, and took a 32-31 lead with :47 left in the game after going for two points. But Eric Crouch calmly led the Huskers on an efficient drive, going 4 for 5 to drive the Huskers deep into Puffalo territory, and Josh Brown nailed a 29 yard field goal to win the game.

So what does that mean for tomorrow? First of all, ignore the records. Secondly, remember that under Bill Callahan, Nebraska has performed very well after a bye week. Vegas says NU by 14... I think it might be a little closer than that.

When they announce the seniors tomorrow, one fellow who should get a thundering ovation is Greg Austin. In a few years, this man will probably need to have both of his knees replaced. He suffered a catastrophic knee injury as a freshman and has never given up. Greg Austin came to Nebraska as an unheralded recruit which didn't measure his heart. Hopefully he'll be able to share his passion and his unrelenting work ethic with other players and inspire them.

I see online that the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos tonight 19-10. Unfortunately, this game was blacked out across most of the nation by the NFL's decision to broadcast this game on their own obscure network instead of one of their existing broadcast partners. This is the ultimate power play by the NFL to see if 8 games are compelling enough to justify the $8.40 a year price to each customer. My vote: No way. I've caught a little bit of the NFL Network on DirecTV, and it's mostly uncompelling programming. The 8 games certainly ups the ante, but for the rest of the season, it's merely an NFL version of ESPN Classic.

Reminds me of the ill-fated decision by the NHL to move games from ESPN to SportsChannel America, another obscure channel. That move almost killed the NHL. The NHL repeated that mistake last year by moving the games to OLN, now Versus. And now even the MLS gets more coverage than the NHL. The NFL certainly has the product to make this succeed... I just hope it doesn't, as it's the next step towards the Super Bowl being broadcast on Pay Per View.

It's not just NFL fans that lose out with this... Big XII fans are losers as well, as the NFL Network also obtained exclusive rights to the Texas Bowl and the Insight Bowl, which means that the bowl game for Missouri, Kansas State, or Kansas may end up being blacked out to most fans. Remember the uproar a few years ago when Fox Sports Net started pushed a Nebraska/Kansas State football game to FX? Here we go again... In the end, fans end up the losers in this power play.

A quick reminder. #4 Notre Dame comes to the Qwest Center to play the UNO Mavs in hockey this weekend. Certainly a busy sports weekend in this area. That's something to be thankful for!

1 comment:

Sean Weide said...

Ah, SportsChannel America.

I actually did the stats for them one time when they broadcast the Omaha Racers' championship series against the Quad City Thunder in 1993.