Some fans miss out on end of KU win over MU
COLUMBIA, Mar 06, 2011 (The Kansas City Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
It almost became Kansas City's Heidi Game.
An epic Border War basketball comeback was brewing in the final minutes Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Kansas had led by 15 points, but the Jayhawks saw their lead evaporate to seven with about 90 seconds to go. And then Missouri's Marcus Denmon hoisted a three-point shot.
CBS play-by-play man Gus Johnson summoned his bellowing voice -- "Denmon aaaa-gain ... got it!"
Trouble was, no one in the Kansas City area saw or heard that moment because of a technical error involving CBS Sports' satellites. Nor did they see Kansas' Tyrel Reed answer seconds later with a three-pointer that stopped Mizzou's 11-0 run.
Unlike in the Heidi Game -- a Raiders-Jets pro football game in 1968 -- the team leading when TV coverage was lost won the game. The No. 2 Jayhawks held on for a 70-66 victory over the No. 22 Tigers, but viewers across the region were anything but relieved, even if they were on the winning side.
With about 3 1/2 minutes left, viewers of KCTV5 in Kansas City and CBS affiliates in Columbia and Springfield were switched to the start of the Michigan-Michigan State game. But CBS viewers in St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka -- after a brief interruption -- saw the end of the Kansas-Missouri game.
Jerry Caraccioli, executive director of communications for CBS Sports in New York, told The Star on Saturday that the problem was "a combination of sunspots and a satellite transponder issue."
Soon after the game ended, KCTV ran an on-screen crawl that said the decision was made by CBS Sports at a national level. Later in the afternoon, an apology was posted on KCTV's website that said "CBS Sports experienced technical difficulties out of our control."
Bobby Totsch, vice president and general manager of KCTV, issued another apology and explanation Saturday night. He also said there was a sunspot blackout of the satellite feed but that instead of receiving a backup Kansas-Missouri feed, KCTV got another game instead.
"Over the next several minutes, many stations did get their feed back," Totsch said. "We tried to compensate, but were unable to get the correct feed back in time.
"We will do everything in our power to work with CBS to make sure this never happens again at KCTV5."
KCTV re-broadcasted the second half of the game after its 10 p.m. Saturday newscast.
At Willie's in downtown Kansas City, a traditional gathering place for Mizzou fans, all eyes turned to the person holding the TV controls when the switch was made soon after Kansas took a 63-48 lead.
"There was a lot of cussing," said Josh Ditto, a bartender at Willie's. "I figured they were going to switch over for the tipoff (of Michigan-Michigan State) and the first 30 seconds but it never came back.
"It was a pretty bad mess. Even as a KU fan it (ticked) me off."
At that point, most everyone in the bar pulled out their cell phones, shouting out updates as the Tigers' comeback unfolded. Ditto tried to get the game on the radio, but he couldn't get reception in time.
Meanwhile, back at Mizzou Arena, Johnson and fellow CBS announcer Dan Bonner continued to describe the action, unaware, Bonner said, that some of those most interested in their words could not hear them or see the picture of what was unfolding on Norm Stewart Court.
One worker for CBS television at the game -- who did not want to be identified -- felt the TV viewers' pain.
"Imagine that, somebody in Kansas City wanting to see the end of the Kansas-Missouri game?" said the man, who until that moment was unaware that some viewers lost the game.
In the Heidi Game, NBC cut away from the final 50 seconds of the Raiders-Jets game to show a regularly scheduled broadcast of the children's movie "Heidi" even though the Raiders were mounting a furious comeback. Unknown to the TV viewers, the Raiders scored two touchdowns and won 43-32.
The Star's Chris Fickett contributed to this report
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