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NFL Net, TWC still at odds

Nobody asked me but:

*If you're a Time Warner Cable subscriber, it doesn't look like you're going to be getting The NFL Network anytime soon.

In a midweek statement, the NFL Network said it didn't expect to reach a deal soon and noted that TWC is the only one of the five largest distributors that it hasn't been able to come to an agreement with. The satellite providers and FiOS are among the distributors who have made deals with the NFL Network and they carry it here.

TWC has no reason to hurry because the first regular season game on the NFL Network isn't until Nov. 12. The Bills' game in Toronto against the New York Jets on Dec. 3 is on the NFL Network schedule. But local fans with cable shouldn't worry because it also will be carried by WKBW if it is sold out 72 hours in advance. Channel 7 also will simulcast ESPN's coverage of the Bills' Monday Night Football opener against New England.

The local Time Warner system doesn't have any leverage anyway. It's a corporate decision.

*I'm not sure if CBS College Sports or the University at Buffalo benefited more by the coverage of the Bulls' 23-17 opening game victory over UTEP a week ago. UB got great exposure. Every time I turned on the digital channel last week it seemed the Bulls' game was being repeated.

CBS College Sports benefited because so many people in the area now know it exists on the digital channel and in HD. Several people have told me they didn't know where CBS College Sports was carried and now they'll watch some or all of the college football games it carries.

The downside of all those repeats of the UB win was it meant viewers had to suffer listening to the game analyst, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila. He never stopped talking and still managed to avoid saying anything. He even had a tough time analyzing the game statistics.

*Syracuse University fans undoubtedly will be looking today for the Big Ten Network, which wasn't on TWC the last college football season and now is available to subscribers with digital boxes. After a promising performance from quarterback Greg Paulus until an overtime interception in a loss to Minnesota, the Orange plays Penn State at noon today on BTN.

*It will be a month before a Buffalo Bills game is on CBS, the AFC network. After the Monday night opener in New England, the Bills are home against NFC opponents Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

That means Channel 29, the local Fox affiliate, carries those games. The announcers have a decidedly Buffalo flavor. Daryl Johnston, the Lewiston-Porter product, is the analyst alongside Kenny Albert for the Tampa Bay game, with Tony Siragusa roaming the sidelines. Ex-Bill Ron Pitts does play-by-play and newcomer John Lynch is the analyst on the New Orleans game.

Fox dropped two lower level analysts, Tony Boselli and Brian Baldinger, who have worked Bills games in the past. It added Lynch, Trent Green and Charles Davis, who also does college games for Fox.

*Don Criqui is back on CBS for another season, paired with Randy Cross. Steve Tasker is back with Gus Johnson.

*The loyalty of Bills fans was put to the test on Sept. 4 when Channel 7 carried the dull preseason finale against Detroit on tape delay. The game averaged about a 4.0 rating. That's low by Bills standards, but it beat every network show on that Friday night, except "Dateline" on NBC.

The airing of the game upset fans of "Jeopardy," which was pre-empted on the night that the show declared the winner of its Tournament of Champions. Channel 7 carried the winning question on its 11 p.m. news that night.

*Remember the Bills' prime time game in 2005 in which New England Patriots star Tedy Bruschi came back from a stroke? All the Bruschi coverage at the expense of the game led to a lot of humor locally. Well, now Bruschi has retired and guess what? He was signed by ESPN and will be part of the coverage of the Bills-Pats opener on SportsCenter and Monday Night Countdown. And at halftime, he will be recognized on the field as honorary captain of the Patriots' 50th anniversary team.

Bruschi has long prepared for this career move. He was named to NFL.com's All Interview Team.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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