Separation Saturday had some of the most exciting games college football will have all season. Unfortunately, here in Tampa fans weren’t able to watch the USF/UCF contest on basic cable.
There is no reason why students and residents living within a 10-mile radius of the campus should be denied watching their college team play.
Thousands of students from this “commuter school” made the 90-mile hike to Orlando to support the Bulls. Others remained here in hopes of catching the game on television at home but were forced to go out and find a location with CSTV, the Conference USA broadcasting station.
At most universities, not broadcasting a football game is unheard of. Unfortunately for Bulls’ fans, Saturday’s game proved that major networks don’t take the school seriously yet.
Bright House Networks is the area’s major cable provider, but the company does not have a contract with CSTV. Even though the game wasn’t listed on the local television guide, I figured the game would be picked up by another station like others have been.
I guess most of Tampa figured the same. When I called Bright House on Saturday morning, an automated message stated that the game would not be seen. Although eight other games were on various channels, after flipping around until game time, I decided to go out and watch the game.
Obviously, games like Ohio State vs Cincinnati, LSU vs Auburn and Michigan vs Notre Dame were chosen over the USF vs UCF game. But Arkansas vs Vanderbilt?
It just doesn’t make any sense.
There were plenty of other networks that could have shown the game but declined.
SunSports claims to be “Your Florida Sports Network,” but chose to show the Kansas State and Marshall game. Right.
Catch 47 broadcasts many of USF’s sporting events, but Saturday afternoon Indy auto racing dominated the airwaves.
Last season when the Knights came to Tampa, the game drew the third largest crowd in the football program’s 10-year history. Failure to broadcast this game not only hurt fans, but both teams lost national exposure while playing in front of a Bowl-sized crowd.
Prior to the game, both coach Jim Leavitt and quarterback Matt Grothe downplayed the game’s significance. Discounted tickets for the game sold out at USF twice. More than 46,700 fans attended the War on I-4, making it the third highest attendance figure in UCF’s 27 year history.
A rivalry has been born and it’s time networks took notice.
What is even more shocking about Bright House not broadcasting the game is that the Golden Knights are set to move into Bright House Stadium next season. The $60 million complex will initially hold 45,000 and then expand to include 65,000 fans.
The game would have been the perfect opportunity for some self-promotion and to encourage students from both universities to visit the new stadium.
Fans truly missed out on an exciting game. The Bulls earned their third comeback victory of the season, Matt Grothe proved again how important he is in a clutch and walk-on Ean Randolph showed again his explosive, game-changing ability.
What makes even less sense is earlier in the season USF’s game against McNeese State was picked up by the local ABC station as part of the ESPN Plus package. Students are still wondering exactly where McNeese State is (Louisiana). McNeese State isn’t even a Division-1 school.
Even though the first two home games this season have been against lesser opponents, fans have still come out to Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls are averaging nearly 27,000 fans this season.
Bright House has been one of USF’s biggest advertising partners and supporters of the school but failed to deliver on Saturday. Three of the remaining games will be seen on Fox Sports, ESPN and ESPN 2, while the other seven games will likely be picked up by local stations.
If not, it’s time for USF fans to take action and fix the situation.