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Media column: Inside ESPN's decision to reject UM's request; Local radio, Dolphins


For years, television has controlled kickoff times for most college football games, and universities usually accept those decisions without public comment. That’s why it was unusual, but justified, when UM’s athletic department expressed disappointment with ESPN this summer for scheduling Saturday’s UM-UF game at noon, instead of prime time. (UM had requested a night game.)

Even ESPN’s Todd McShay said on-air this week: “Strange kickoff time for such a big game!”

So why didn’t ESPN schedule UM-UF under the lights? Ilan Ben-Hanan, the master college football scheduler for ABC and ESPN, explained his rationale:

### ABC and ESPN each carry competing prime-time games except two Saturdays when ABC has a NASCAR race. Regrettably, one of those Saturdays is this one. And ESPN committed last year to airing Notre Dame-Michigan at 8 p.m. Saturday.

### So why not air UM-UF on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. instead of Texas-BYU? Ben-Hanan said it wasn’t realistic to schedule Texas-BYU at noon on ESPN, instead of UM-UF, because that would have been a 10 a.m. start in Provo, Utah.

### So why not schedule UM-UF at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and Texas-BYU at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN2? Ben-Hanan says they didn’t want to start a game in Provo later that 8:15 p.m. Mountain time, and doing that would have left ESPN without an appealing game at noon. ESPN networks typically allot 3 ½ hours for each game.

### ESPN is airing a tripleheader Saturday: UM-UF at noon, Georgia-South Carolina at 4:30 p.m. and Notre Dame-Michigan at night. Why not flip-flop the UM and Georgia start times so UM at least could play in the late afternoon?

Ben-Hanan said this is a rare Saturday when CBS does not have an SEC game at 3:30, and “we wanted an SEC conference game in that slot.”

### So why not schedule UM-UF at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC? Instead, ABC will air two less attractive games that will get full national exposure between ABC and ESPN2 --- Oregon-Virginia and Ohio State-San Diego State. (Viewers who receive the Oregon game on ABC will get the Ohio State game on ESPN2, and vice versa.)

Ben-Hanan said ABC always airs a game involving a Big 10 team in that 3:30 slot. And he said airing the Oregon game at noon on ESPN, and UM-UF at 3:30 on ABC, would have been unfair to Oregon players because even though the game is in Virginia, “that would have been a 9 a.m. start for them.”

Ben-Hanan said UM and UF fans should not feel offended because “a noon start isn’t inferior or diminished. Oklahoma-Texas and Ohio State-Michigan go at noon.”

But those games usually are assigned No. 1 or No. 2 announcing teams – not the case with UM/UF Saturday, when Dave Pasch and Brian Griese handle the call.

Ben-Hanan said the ACC “let us know” that a noon kickoff for UM-UF “was not their preference…. We do our best. It’s a challenge. It’s rare to get a tripleheader like ESPN has [Saturday], three games with such national appeal.”


### Dan Le Batard assures us that when his local radio show begins airing nationally on ESPN Radio on Oct. 1, neither the content nor the on-air talent will change. ESPN (as well as The Ticket, locally) will carry the final three hours of the show, from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Le Batard, who also hosts an ESPN TV show, and radio co-host Jon Weiner will work the 3 to 4 p.m. hour only on 790-AM and 104.3-FM The Ticket.

### WQAM-560’s choice of Channing Crowder and Brandon Guzio to host its 3 to 7 p.m. talk show – replacing ESPN-bound Jorge Sedano – means that three of the market’s four late-afternoon talk shows will have a heavy Dolphins component: that program, Orlando Alzugaray’s on WMEN-640, and the Finsiders on WINZ-940 at 5 p.m., the first hour of which will be simulcast on Fox Sports Florida beginning Monday. Le Batard’s show, the market’s highest-rated, always has discussed the Heat more than the Dolphins.

### Sedano’s new ESPN Radio show with Mark Shlereth will air 7 to 10 p.m. weeknights beginning Monday but won’t be carried by a Dade or Broward station. But ESPN 106.3 in West Palm Beach likely will air it a couple of nights a week, Sedano said. And the program is also available on satellite radio and mobile apps.

Sedano’s ESPN gig also will include TV appearances on First Take, SportsCenter, Sports Reporters and The Numbers Never Lie.

So ESPN Radio essentially has plucked two South Florida hosts (Le Batard and Sedano) for six consecutive hours of weekday programming.   

### Recommended viewing for all longtime Dolphins fans: NFL Films’ 60-minute documentary on Don Shula, airing at 9 p.m. Tuesday on NFL Network. Don Shula: A Football Life offers a powerful and richly detailed portrait of the legendary coach through interviews with players (Irving Fryar, Nick Buoniconti and Larry Csonka were particularly insightful), journalists, family members and others; audio of Shula barking on the sidelines and at practice; and reflections from a relaxed, engaged Shula.

Shula shares anecdotes many fans haven’t heard, including how he told the elevator operator at the team hotel to get players’ autographs on a ball late at night so Shula could determine what players were missing curfew.

Csonka noted how he unintentionally stumbled upon a copy of the Raiders’ game plan the day before they played Miami and gave it to Dolphins assistant coach Monte Clark, but Shula told Clark to throw it away because “Shula won’t cheat. He’s got integrity.” (The Dolphins lost that game.)

### Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is a good and decent man, but his secretive style with the media can be puzzling at times.

Among many examples: In a profile on Richie Incognito, NFL.com's Jeff Darlington noted how Philbin began a meeting with his players by showing tape of Houston’s Antonio Smith swinging a helmet at Incognito during their preseason game and praising Incognito for not retaliating.

But when Philbin was asked by reporters if Incognito handled the situation the right way, Philbin responded: “That’s not for me to judge.” So why wouldn’t Philbin credit his player publicly? What does withholding public praise accomplish?

Philbin's secretive nature goes well beyond his refusal to publicly acknowledge or discuss any player who doesn't practice on a particular day.

Philbin wouldn't reveal his backup center this week because he suggested it would put the team at a competitive disadvantage. OK then. Nor would he say with whom he consults before deciding whether to throw a challenge flag. Nobody likes to hear the media -- the conduit for the fans -- complain, and this part of the weekly media column is certainly not intended as such.

(Dolphins writers have enough to write about regardless of what Philbin says or does not say.)

It's more of a statement of the paranoia in sports today --- with Philbin displaying more of that than many coaches. But it's odd coming from an organization where the owner (Stephen Ross) has insisted the team must be more transparent, a philosophy not shared by his coach.     


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Excuses and justifications....what ESPN does best

u are u

Florida is relevant, but that's only half the equation. If Miami was relevant, which they haven't been since 2005, a 3:30 or 8pm Primetime Kickoff would have been slated. Plain and simple. Blame urselves.


ESPN is the worst. Good stuff Barry.


Ufelons are not Us

Less Rings 5> 3 less pros and probowlers ( we reference the pros because that's the pinnacle of talent in the sport ) and less arrests

Daniel Rivera

I think its total BS by the ESPN guy. Our game vs UF could have easily been a night game or at least a 3:30 game. I don't buy what he said about the Noon start being unfair to Oregon to have to start at 9 am Eugene time.

William P.

LeBatard is going to have to change his content. I'm pretty sure the rest of the nation doesn't want to hear 3 hours of Heat talk everyday.

Serpico Jones

LeBatard's show has gotten a little boring of late. Everything is Heat this and Lebron that, it gets old.



The explanations are fine. Was Miami a consistent Top 10 team over the past few years then I would agree with you but I disagree given the way Miami has played the past 10 years.


Captain Obvious

William P. and completely different person Serpico Jones - only an hour of LeBatard's radio show is going to be broadcast nationally and the reason ESPN is putting him, and Sedano, and Israel Gutierrez on their network is that they talk about the Heat and the rest of the nation wants to hear about the Heat and LeBron James.


Forget the time slot win this game and the next 5/6 and go into Tallahassee undefeated and the Canes will get their primetime spot. Win that game and the nation will start to open their eyes to this team. It's possible but very unlikely if this team fails to capitalize on the opportuniies they will have. Canes have talent,and the defense seems to be better(hope so)now it comes down to taking care of business on the field. I've said 10-2 Acc Coastal Division Champs all along but a victory Saturday and if it's convincing don't be surprised !! Go Canes!!


[l_l] r right on, bro.

It's all about the SWAGGER at The [l_l]


OMG, I want to U to win Saturday, and I do think they'll beat the Gator. Better offense, good enough D. But stop this crap about 5 ring, btw they don't give rings for a national championship,the last national championship was 20 years ago. This is 2013, not 1992, what you should focus on is what happens on the field. God you sound like crusty old men talking about what happened back in the day.


You know theyre making crap up when you look at reason #3! PLENTY of games are started at 1030 pm in Provo! What BS! Noon game in the hottest part of the country...a holes! Shoulda jumped on that excuse...


jmike - the last national championship was 12 years ago and of course they give rings for a national championship.


Last National Championship was 2001 not 1992, unless you count the Fiesta Bowl game vs Ohio State that they stole from us.
Even winning one every 10 years in the modern era was unheard of until UM and now Alabama, so maybe your expectations are a bit high there.

I feel our team this year is a contender and can play with anyone, but we'll see tomorrow, finally. But just because we don't win a NC doesn't mean we will stick our tails between our legs.


Tim Reynolds of AP is a dirtbag and worse should be said but would get my comment deleted!

He tweets that at 9AM an announcement Canes fans have been waiting ,will be made and then at 9AM he tweets about the ACC championship rings for the BB team.

Reynolds you are a complete______________ (fill in the blanks)

Bleep you Reynolds!

Keepin it real always

Barry.....you may ...or may not have a point or two regarding Philbin s secretive ways.Is it just splitting hairs or looking a bit too much into one man s style of coaching?He s not exactly an extrovert,ala a Jimmy Johnson type or gregarious at times ala Rex Ryan.He seems to have always been a reticent sort anyway,not loud or full of much drama.In all fairness even you must give him some credit for being the first to agree to Hard Knocks last year when he displayed his FIRST year as a NFL Coach...and that was not easy for anyone to do.Just saying.

Keepin it real always

Canes just need to win Saturday period.All else will take care of itself.Canes now ARE good enough to beat Florida.If THEY truly...as a team believe that...then they will notch the victory.If not.......they re not back and won t be back until they can beat a Top Ten team.Plain and simple.Good luck Saturday Canes.


Media transparency refers to giving key members of the organization more facetime in the media. Doesn't necessarily mean that they will be more forthcoming.


good job on calling out philbin for his garbage secrecy. lets also not forget how the current media campaign for the fins is "Our time is now" yet Ross the clown says in his only interview before the season that we the fans are going to have to be patient and that he doesnt necessarily expect playoffs this year. Of course, why would he expect his amazing GM to build a winner by year 6 of managing this team. enjoy your empty stadium!



Ilan Ben-Hanan (usc alum) said UM and UF fans should not feel offended because “a noon start isn’t inferior or diminished. Oklahoma-Texas and Ohio State-Michigan go at noon.”
-- barry jackson

except ABC airs those rivalry games ...
the over-the-air network reaches a much larger audience ...
cut the crap ...


CutlerRidge Laz

Daniel Rivera

Why don't you make another you tube video of your thoughts, primo.

William P.

Captain Obvious, who is not involved with the LeBatard show at all, I will not disagree that the nation is obsessed with the Miami Heat. It's just that the show I think will need to branch out past Heat talk sometimes. The show gets repetitive sometimes talking about the Heat so much. They virtually ignore MLB except for A-Rod talk, the NFL is only QB talk. I just think ESPN radio audience will expect more along the lines of a Cowherd who talks about all teams. Oh yeah, probably need to drop local animal guy or move him to the 3 oclock hour.


I got a splitting headache making sense of this empty suit's convoluted explanation ...
the most anticipated game in years slated for an unconscionable noon start ...
who's the boss ...
our pantywaist AD (did I just say that:) should've insisted on playing in prime time with or without the four-letter word's presence prompting them to sue us for breach of contract ...
then our jew lawyer (I can say that ... I'm jewish ... l'shana tova ... have a good year ... btw) would countersue for incalcuable brand damage ...
goading for a fight ...



Hey Barry, great job on this post! Can't find this type of deep & concise reporting anywhere else.

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