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Published: Thursday, 10/19/2006

Mickey Mouse decision bars Bucks from TV

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Legions of Ohio State fans are steamed that the undefeated Buckeyes, the No. 1-ranked team in the country all season, won't have their Big Ten game against Indiana this Saturday televised on any major outlet.

The game is available live only on ESPNU, the marginally distributed cable offshoot of ESPN, which is part of the Disney/ABC broadcasting giant.

ESPNU, an all college sports station launched less than two years ago, is not available locally on Buckeye CableSystem, and not available through any area Time-Warner Cable outlets.

"We don't have it. We have been in discussion with ESPN to add it, but at this time it's not a station we have available," said Florence Buchanan, vice president of sales and marketing for Buckeye CablesSystem.

That means Northwest Ohio followers of the Buckeyes have very limited choices.

They can try to locate a ticket for the sold-out game, find a dish owner who subscribes to ESPNU, or watch the game at a sports bar that has ESPNU. The Brew House on Airport Highway, and all area Ralphie's and Fricker's restaurants carry the ESPNU channel.

The Disney Co. owns the television broadcasting rights to Big Ten home games and opted to put the Buckeyes on ESPNU, while the game between Illinois (2-5) and Penn State (4-3) in the same noontime slot will be carried on the much more broadly distributed ESPN2. ABC is televising No. 5 Texas against No. 17 Nebraska at noon, while ESPN carries No. 21 Wisconsin at Purdue.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is not shocked by the uproar, which he said hit home when his daughter attending college in New York called him earlier this week to complain about the lack of a widespread broadcast of the Buckeyes' game.

"It doesn't surprise me, because people love watching the Buckeyes," Tressel said.

"You go to Spartan Stadium, and I don't know what the numbers were, but gosh, it looked to me like a third of the people or better were ours. When you go to Texas, it looked to me like - I don't know where they got those tickets - but there was a whole bunch of scarlet and gray there. So the interest level in Ohio State football is tremendous."

Of the three primary cable outlets in the Columbus/central Ohio market closest to Ohio State, only Insight offers ESPNU, as a premium channel.

An agreement has been reached to show the Ohio State-Indiana game on ONN on a delayed basis, with a replay at 11 p.m. Saturday and at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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