This e-mail arrived this afternoon, during the Motor City Bowl. (I know, I'm on vacation. I told you I couldn't stay away.) Here's the e-mail:
I wanted to pass along the text of an email I sent to ESPN's viewer ombudsman, George Solomon.
I am rather dismayed that ESPN in their pregame coverage of the Motor City Bowl appeared to show an bias towards Memphis and spent little if any time on the Zips. Here's the text of my email to Mr. Solomon:
<<beginning of my email to ESPN>>
I thought there was a pronounced bias towards Memphis in the pregame show and the opening introduction to ESPN's coverage of the Motor City Bowl on December 26. If one watched the coverage leading up to the kickoff of the game, Memphis got a lot of airtime in terms of features
and discussion and Akron got almost no airtime.
I realize that an important angle to cover leading into the Motor City Bowl was the stellar career of Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams. ESPN would have been remiss had they not spent time on his awesome collegiate career and his nearing an NCAA record for career 100+ yard games. But I think in the pregame coverage, ESPN covered Memphis almost to the exclusion of covering Akron.
I think ESPN's lack of pregame airtime regarding Akron was unfair to the Zips. I'm an alumnus of their arch-rival, Kent State; and even I notice the disparity here.
Thanks for your time -- and hearing me out.
<<end of my email to ESPN>>
(end of e-mailer's note)
I was on the road during the pregame show, so I can't say if the coverage was as blatantly Memphis-tilted as this viewer thought. But during the game itself, there's certainly been a lot of talk about Memphis, even if they trailed early in the game. (As I wrote most of this, UA trailed 10-3, with the score 13-3 at the half.)
The local audience had a pro-UA alternative: the radio. That's where I heard pregame coverage, with the Zips' radio team, and you shouldn't be surprise to know that it had more to say about UA. The touted Memphis running game was downplayed as one-dimensional, to the point that it seemed high praise when someone (I think it was the UA coach) argued that in fact it was TWO-dimensional: the quarterbacked handed off to Williams, or the quarterback kept it.
Still, the local coverage actually managed to underscore why people get so unhappy when they feel slighted by a national game. I can't tell you who won the Motor City Bowl last year, or any year before that. But, as the radio pregame pointed out, when you get in a bowl game, you don't just show off your team, you show off your conference -- and you show future bowl organizers that you can both put up an impressive performance and you can bring out your fans. (Hence the importance of all those buses carrying UA supporters to the Motor City Bowl.) You want to make the most of that showcase, so it's frustrating when announcers make less of you.
Of course, whatever Memphis does in the stats column, UA could make more noise just by winning this thing.
Update: Memphis leads 38-17 with about three minutes to go. Needless to say, their story is dominating the TV commentary now. I've heard a couple of kind things said about UA, although it has some of the feel of the end of the ''Bad News Bears'' -- you know, when the Yankees sneeringly say the Bears put up a good fight. (Speaking of which, as much as I liked Billy Bob Thornton in the remake, the original movie is still better.) A good fight pales next to a good win. It would have been sweet for UA if Williams's record-breaking performance had to be listed as coming while UA won...
Then again, it's now 38-24, and UA just got the ball, so maybe the game isn't over yet...
Update 2: And now it's 38-31. Could Kelly Leak be QB?...
Well, since UA fell just a little short of a miracle, maybe Kelly was there in spirit. I hope they also have a Tanner Boyle...