'Perfect Storm' Slams Iowa-Nebraska TV Access

By Scott Dochterman, Reporter

Elliot Elisason (55) of the Minnesota Gophers tries to steal the ball from Josh Oglesby (2) of the Iowa Hawkeyes during a men's college basketball game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday, February 3, 2013. Gophers won 62-59. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

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By Grant Burkhardt

IOWA CITY — Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner used a weather analogy to describe the difficulty in gaining television coverage of Saturday’s Iowa-Nebraska men’s basketball game.

“It really was a perfect storm,” said Rudner, the league’s television administrator. “It all came together in a way that really worked against having any sort of coverage of this game.”

BTN’s mobile service, BTN2GO, will stream the Iowa-Nebraska game from an arena video board live at 1 p.m. Saturday. With production trucks and crews unavailable, along with the logistical challenges of getting through a blizzard, the league was unable to gain any television access.

BTN is airing two women’s basketball games live that afternoon. The first starts at noon and the second starts at 2 p.m.

“Had there been some sort of way to be satisfied that a production could be done, that a truck could be found, that a crew could be found, I think we would have done all we could,” Rudner said. “I don’t think the start times for those women’s games would have been an issue.

“But once we learned that we couldn’t air on ESPN or BTN on such short notice — the weekends are probably the hardest time to find a truck and crew, let alone on four days notice — that really became a moot issue because ESPN and BTN couldn’t get the necessary equipment and a crew there to do the game.”

Iowa and Nebraska originally were scheduled to play at 8 p.m. Thursday in Lincoln, but eastern Nebraska and the state of Iowa are slated to get pelted with several inches of snow Wednesday and Thursday. The schools agreed to move the game to 1 p.m. Saturday to avoid any public safety issues. But ESPN2 was scheduled to air the game Thursday, and none of ESPN’s family of networks had the available time slots to broadcast the game.

“We went with the idea that something is better than nothing and hoped the Iowa fans and the Nebraska fans would understand this is a tough situation that we were all dealing with,” Rudner said. “First and foremost, we had to make sure we weren’t doing anything to jeopardize public safety. When we were satisfied that wasn’t going to be the case, we sort of figured out how do we make the best out of a bad situation. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do more.

“A typical fan doesn’t understand. They love watching sports on TV, but they don’t really understand or have an appreciation for what it takes to put on a production of a game. It’s just a logistical nightmare.”

With cabling and equipment removed from the Devaney Center, BTN can’t broadcast the game as it would a “Student U” event. The network won’t be able to re-air the game, either.

“We looked at all the logistics and came up with the solution of BTN2GO,” BTN spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said.

Locally, Mediacom provides BTN2GO but other companies such as IMON or South Slope do not.

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