Thank ESPN for USF women-Super Bowl clash
In the end, USF's women might be grateful that so few were watching one of their least-inspired efforts of the season, a 62-57 loss Sunday at Memphis.
But that hardly absolves ESPN of forcing viewers to choose between that game and the Super Bowl.
The Bulls-Tigers matchup, which started at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU, is believed to be the only contest -- pro or college -- that went head-to-head with Super Bowl LI, which kicked off a few minutes thereafter.
As a result, attendance at Memphis' Roane Fieldhouse was announced at 174, the smallest crowd to see a USF basketball game in more than five years. Only 137 souls witnessed a 16-point Bulls victory against St. Peter's in the consolation game of the St. Peter's Holiday Classic in Jersey City, N.J., on Dec. 30, 2011.
American Athletic Conference spokesman Chuck Sullivan said the decision to broadcast the game against the nation's biggest annual sporting event was ESPN's. Typically, an ACC game is designated for that Sunday evening time slot, but no ACC contest -- men or women -- started after 2 p.m. Sunday.
So the Bulls and Tigers -- not to mention officials, cheerleaders, statisticians and concessionaires -- were thrust into a wholly unappealing conflict that could've been avoided (i.e. broadcast the game earlier in the day on ESPN3, and fill that 6:30 p.m. slot with non-live programming).
Naturally, some will argue that's why God invented DVRs, but c'mon.
This didn't have to happen.