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Archive for August, 2008

TV or not TV

Thursday, August 28th, 2008
Iowa basketball fans didn't miss the most memorable season in Hawkeye history a year ago when the Big Ten Network picked up production of 24 games, but there's no question that Thursday's announcement of an agreement between Mediacom and the network is welcome news beyond the boundaries of Jim Delany's office and the confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. From Ackley to Zwingle, the ability to sit down on a cold winter night and watch nearly every Iowa hoops game on television has been a passion in this state since the days when Lute Olson headed the Hawkeye program. A statewide network was the brainchild of Bill Bolster of KWWL-TV in Waterloo, who went on to head CNBC later in his career. His hunch that people would tune in to the locally-produced games proved right and the ratings were among the highest of the year for the stations involved. Whether people were ever able to make it to a game in Iowa City, they felt a connection to the program that has benefitted Iowa athletics to this day. That tie was missing last season. Iowa appeared on something other than the Big Ten Network just three times in its first 24 games. While many fans relied on newspaper and radio accounts of games, they missed watching Cy Tate develop as he did during the Big Ten season and they were left without images of newcomers Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson and Jarryd Cole as they dealt with the ups and downs of rookie seasons. While snowbirds in Texas, Arizona and Florida commented on how they enjoyed a newfound ability to keep up with the Hawkeyes, people in Davenport and Moline who didn't want to switch to the dish or spend the night in front of a TV at a bar were flustered by the seemingly endless negotiations that have now come to an end. Even people who sit elsewhere in our office in the Quad-Cities mentioned the disconnect they felt and how strange it all seemed. That can change now, as Todd Lickliter builds his program, fans can re-connect with what promises to be a young, but interesting Hawkeye team that plays a different brand of team ball than they used to tune into. Lickliter was among a handful of Hawkeye coaches who issued statements following Thursday's announcement. "The plan for the Big Ten Network from its inception was to offer more access to more fans. The agreement with Mediacom helps that vision become a reality for Hawkeye fans,'' Lickliter said. For many, the agreement couldn't come soon enough.