I’m a little steamed while at the same time a little bewildered.
The Washington Huskies football team wrapped up camp this weekend. The scrimmage days were well attended, the buzz around the team at a nice even hum if not a full fever pitch. Camp closed and gave way to game-week preparation just a few short months after quarterback Jake Locker politely declined to go to the NFL, about a month after Locker did not one but two publicity tours in New York to kick off a muted-but-obvious Heisman Trophy campaign, and about a month after the Pac-10 coaches shuffled around the Big Apple like worms.
The Seattle Times produced its College Football Preview special section Sunday. It was the first time in a few years it published the section as a standalone. And it is also the first time in about five or six years that it seems like everyone in the area is talking about the Huskies football program not with blind hope, but with some substantive expectations.
So why am I equal parts steamed and bewildered?
Because the university, the conference, and whoever is responsible for the first game of the season to be shown only on Comcast’s sports package seriously fumbled the kickoff.
The first game of the season, featuring Locker and the promising Huskies against the nation’s historically most decorated non-BCS team BYU, is not on ABC, ESPN (or any channel in its family of networks.) It isn’t on FSN Northwest (which is probably too busy airing same-day reruns of the Mariners game.) It is on CBS College Sports Network, a channel you buy on Comcast as part of its sports package for $7.95/month. (Note: It automatically renews each month, so if you don’t call to cancel, it’s another $7.95, and another $7.95, and so on.)
If you have Directv, you can purchase the Choice Xtra package to get the channel.It’s about $5/month upgrade.
And, if you happen to live in southeastern Ohio and have, say, Time Warner Cable, you can purchase the Sports Pass for $6.99/month to get CBS College Sports, as well as Speed2, Fox Soccer Plus, Outdoor Channel, Tennis Channel, and Fuel TV.
OK, I can’t complain too much about not being able to watch the Huskies in Ohio. Even though I have a great relationship with the bartender (aka gate keeper of the remote control) at Buffalo Wild Wings in Athens, Ohio, it is still really hard to find them. If it’s on FSN Northwest, fuggedaboutit. ABC regional, I can probably see it at the local sports bar, but that’s only if the game isn’t a 7 p.m. Pacific Time kickoff. BW3 isn’t hot on starting games at 10 p.m. for ya! ESPN, great, I can even watch it on my own couch.
But, even the ESPN Game Plan stinks for teams playing West of the Mississippi. Seriously, almost all the games the Game Plan shows are morning games. There is typically one — one! — Pacific Time Zone game per Saturday and, last season, it was not once the Huskies.
Again, I shouldn’t complain too much about the national scope of things. There aren’t a lot of Pac-10 fans in Ohio, anyway. And please don’t think I know the back-room dealings. I really don’t know what goes into these decisions and who has control over what.
However, why in God’s name shouldn’t Huskies fans in the state of Washington be able to turn on any TV in any home right here without having to call Comcast or go to a sports bar that may or may not have the package?
No, it’s not a lot of money. No, it’s not the biggest inconvenience to call Comcast. No, it’s probably not the worst problem we will encounter this weekend, but why — after all the losing, after all the haranguing about a new stadium, after all the pleas to stay on board — do Huskies fans have to deal with this?
I’m sure there is some ridiculous kind of economic, political reason for it. But why, for once, can’t a university put its fans and athletes first? I’m not suggesting it always do that. Not even most of the time!
But when there is finally some good momentum, some good things happening, can’t Scott Woodward, or anyone say, “Hey, our fans deserve this. Our kids deserve to have their families and friends flip on the TV and watch. Let’s give them just a little bit of a break. Shucks, if the team does well and everyone’s watching, then maybe we can gouge them a little more later down the road, anyway?”
If not for the fans, how about for the Football Writers of America Association members? Or the people in New York whose attention the Pac-10 was trying so hard to get? The chance those folks stay up until 10 p.m. for a kickoff is slim enough; don’t make them have to upgrade their cable packages, too.
Enough ranting for me today. Besides, I need to call Comcast.