“Our long national nightmare is over”

In Watergate’s wake, President Gerald Ford once said in the somber moments following former President Richard Nixon’s resignation: “Our long national nightmare is over.”

I echoed those same words moments after the official press release popped up in my inbox. After more than a year of asking Mediacom, BTN and Iowa officials (plus a few fans, bar owners and satellite operators) the same questions about their impasse, the companies reached an agreement. Iowa’s BTN games finally will appear on Mediacom. Fans will watch them. Move on, as the liberals say.

Whew! No more questions about negotiations. The aggravation and wrath (or joy and ecstasy) of Iowa fans now will be saved for televisions in family rooms, not e-mails directed at sports reporters. In a few days, when everybody knows to which channel the Big Ten Network will appear on their cable lineup, I won’t hear a peep. Like our federal government, I’m the wrong person to dispense advice on how to spend people’s money. When it comes to TV choices in print, I’d like to stick to that statement.

Predictably, Iowa officials are thrilled. They caught the most junk from fans last year. I’m convinced the impasse hurt Todd Lickliter’s first year as basketball coach. Most of the games started at 8 p.m., so out-of-Corridor families didn’t come. Fans couldn’t watch them on TV because they had Mediacom and not the Big Ten Network. Fans didn’t build any familiarity with Lickliter or the players. They struggled on the court so there was apathy. People quit caring. Not exactly the best combination for a first-year coach.

“The plan for the Big Ten Network from its inception was to offer more access to more fans,” Lickliter said in a statement. “The agreement with Mediacom helps that vision become a reality for Hawkeye fans.”

Athletics Director Gary Barta shared in joy, saying, “This is a great day for the Hawkeyes.”

Iowa will make more money from this deal and the others the network signed this week. But right now, it’s like a new lease on life.

For Iowa and, in some ways, for me.


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