Unofficially, today is like an added holiday for many living within the boundaries of the Buckeye state.
With Ohio State tangling with the Miami tonight in the Fiesta Bowl with a national championship at stake, it's not irrational to think that most eyes in Ohio will be watching the biggest game of the 2002-03 college football season. It's also not irrational to think that the Fiesta Bowl is the reason for many fiestas planned for tonight across Ohio.
A win for the Buckeyes over the heavily favored Hurricanes and it becomes the sports story of the year in Ohio. Considering how OSU is being viewed by many as nearly a two-touchdown underdog, a victory for the Buckeyes could warrant this game consideration as the top national sports story of the year.
Such a story deserves special attention.
The local television stations have provided just that this week by airing a steady dose of stories about the much anticipated matchup. Whether it's been about the financial impact OSU playing in the Fiesta Bowl will have on the local economy or the odds of the Buckeyes actually winning, stories concerning the Fiesta Bowl have been a nightly fixture.
However, WTVG-Channel 13, the local ABC affiliate that will televise the game starting at 8, and WTOL-Channel 11, the local CBS affiliate, decided to go the extra mile with their coverage of the Fiesta Bowl. Both stations sent people to Tempe, Ariz., to cover the event and provide stories with local angles for northwest Ohio they may not have been able to get otherwise. Furthermore, the area's top two news stations also will air pre-game shows within the hour prior to the game's prime-time start.
To its credit, Channel 13 is approaching the Fiesta Bowl the way it annually handles covering the OSU-Michigan contest. It's going all out.
Channel 13 will sandwich the game between locally produced pre and post-game shows. An hour-long pre-game show from 7 to 8 will include live reaction from Tempe, Columbus and around Toledo. Channel 13 news anchor Lee Conklin, sports director Rob Powers and sports reporter Dave Chudowsky have been working from Arizona most of the week and will provide some insight on what's happening in Tempe during the hour before the kickoff and also after the game. The station also plans to offer reports from Columbus and Toledo while weekend sports anchor Ryan Burr handles the studio duties.
“It will be a total team effort of me doing everything back here and them working out there,” Burr said.
Once the game is over, probably around midnight, the station intends to dedicate most of the Friday night half-hour newscast to Fiesta Bowl coverage. Burr said Powers would provide a breakdown of the game while Conklin will be responsible for the news perspective
Even though the Fiesta Bowl isn't on Channel 11, the CBS affiliate plans to air Desert Showdown, a half-hour pre-game Fiesta Bowl show starting at 7. Sports director Dan Cummins and sports reporter Joe Rychnovsky will provide information from Tempe while weekend sports anchor Gary Sensenstein works from the downtown Toledo studio. The game will not be finished by the 11 o'clock newscast, but Sensenstein said the plan is to “still be live at 11” from Tempe.
However, broadcast regulations do not allow the station to show highlights of the game until the game is actually completed.
Local NBC affiliate (WNWO-Channel 24) and local Fox affiliate (WUPW-Fox 36), have relied on respective network feeds for stories about the Fiesta Bowl. Neither Channel 24 nor Channel 36 sent anyone to Tempe.
The challenging economic climate is the primary reason.
The facts that the game is being played on a Friday night and being televised on another network also played a part in Channel 24 and Channel 36 opting not to send anyone to Tempe.
Channel 24 program director Lou Hebert said some discussion took place about sending staff to the game.
“But we decided against it given the amount of work and expenses involved,” Hebert said. “Now if we were carrying the game I'm sure we'd have sent people out there.”
Channel 36 sports director Brad Fanning concurs.
“If this game is on Fox we would be there,” Fanning said.
As for high school basketball, every station intends to air some highlights from a scaled-back schedule. Some games were rescheduled because of the Fiesta Bowl.
Donald Emmons is The Blade's sports media columnist. Contact him by e-mail at email@example.com.