University of Miami tailgaters might want to get to sleep early on Friday, Sept. 6th. That's because the highly anticipated Florida Gators at Miami Hurricanes football game was announced for a noon kickoff at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 on ESPN -- upsetting fans who would rather have a night game.
A night game would certainly be a great draw and the event to party around at Sun Life. UM would get heavy-duty exposure. And let's face it, night games are always more fun (unless you're on deadline or savor getting broiled outside).
Turns out that ABC has NASCAR from Richmond, Va., that night and ESPN is broadcasting the Notre Dame-Michigan football game in prime time. A game has not yet been announced for the prime-time ESPN2 slot.
"We requested and lobbied ESPN for an evening slot for the game vs #BeatUF.'' tweeted UM athletic director Blake James. "Unfortunately, they were unable to accomodate.''
I just got off the phone with ESPN spokesman Mike Humes, whom I asked about the noon start.
"Essentially, we looked at all the options and this was the best available window for the game,'' Humes said. "We average probably around three million viewers for that time slot. So it wasn’t like, 'Let’s put the worst game on at noon.' The noon window does really well with fans.
"We view this as a great matchup. Scheduling games is like putting together differrent puzzles with different time zones and commitments, and this was the best window.''
UM AD James also tweeted this: "espn/abc wanted to take game national 3:30 slot is regional coverage."
Humes said the 3:30 p.m. ABC game is Oregon at Virginia.
In other Canes football news, the Aug. 30 season opener at Sun Life Stadium against FAU will kick off at 8 p.m. Aug. 30 -- a Friday -- and will be aired by ESPNU.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN