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ESPN GameDay at practice, Hilton, too (40%), on attendance and radio

An ESPN GameDay crew was at this morning's football FIU's practice to shoot a feature that'll air during Saturday's show. Coach Mario Cristobal wore a mike early in practice.

"It was very brief," Cristobal said. "Obviously, it wouldn't compromise anything for our game plan and our chances for victory. It's a tremendous honor."

Cristobal said Hilton was "getting better and better," and remained "optimistic" Hilton and Hilton's right hamstring would be ready for Saturday. Yet Cristobal also put Hilton's practice participation at "about 40 percent."

AD Pete Garcia says he's expecting a full house Saturday, especially if the student section continues to increase. He estimates 6,000 students came Saturday and 4,000 came for the season opener. In addition to the atmosphere and dolllars, Garcia had a football reason to plead for another large crowd. He credited crowd noise for UCF's five false starts and one delay of game. I don't know if I agree entirely, although that is a high total for a well-coached team not named "New England Patriots" (you'd be surprised at how often they jump -- one game of theirs I tracked, the tight end jumped so often, I finally asked someone "Are they telling him the snap count?"). And, as I point out in tomorrow's story on the pass rush, FIU's been doing such taxidermy on the run that even five-yard penalties put teams in passing situations against the Gilded Cats.

Last Saturday, though the Central Florida folks filled out their side, there were open spots in the West stands and apparently on the press box side. That's why I called that official attendance of 20,205 "announced" in my game story. Unlike last Saturday, individual game tickets will be sold at the stadium, along with season tickets.

Garcia doesn't anticipate another radio conflict issue with 1080 WHIM carrying another game at the same time, either this week or with the Duke game that's been moved back an hour to 7 p.m. That was nearly an embarrassment for the program that thankfully got solved.

Personally, I kind of wondered why FIU wasn't on 640 AM or 940 AM, two pure sports stations trying to establish themselves as a player in this market alongside WQAM and 790 The Ticket. Get shows for the football and men's basketball coaches, at least. Get a weekly bloc of time where a host talks FIU sports with callers. And, when I'm driving to a game, either as a fan or a reporter, I like to hear pregame shows. The only good part about the 45-minute-to-one-hour creep during rush hour along Highway 417 from downtown Ottawa to now-Scotiabank Place for Panthers-Senators games -- more agonizing than I-95 or the Dolphin at rush hour -- was hearing part of the two-hour pregame show. Kind of blah hearing a lawyer program two hours before kickoff as I've heard on WHIM.


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