(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 8:38 PM
Lake Charles now has its own version of the famous, or maybe infamous, “Heidi Game.”
For those of you too young to remember, or have never heard of it, the “Heidi Game” is best known for what was not seen.
On November 17, 1968, the New York Jets were in Oakland for a game against the Raiders. Both teams were fighting for the old AFL championship that year. The game was being broadcast live nationally on NBC.
The Jets were leading 32-29 with time running out. Then, the Raiders rallied to score twice in the final minutes and win 42-32, but only some of the people watching could tell you how it happened.
You see as the comeback was going on, NBC viewers in the East were forced to watch the start of the movie “Heidi,” the children’s classic that was scheduled to run starting at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The network automatically changed over to the movie while the game was still going on.
Fans in the East, especially in New York, went crazy.
Well, something similar happened Sunday night.
Sunday evening, the same thing happened to those watching McNeese State pull off the 80-75 victory over Texas Tech in Lubbock.
The win is one of the bigger ones in the history of the McNeese program and is the first time the Cowboys have beaten a Big XII foe. It is also one of the few times the basketball program has been on television.
The game between the two teams was live on Fox Sports Southwest and could be seen on the Suddenlink cable system in the Lake Area. It was also televised on Direct TV.
However, those watching the Suddenlink broadcast did not see the end of the game. Just like with the NFL contest, the game switched off at the 7 p.m. hour when the cable station changed from FSSW to Fox Sports New Orleans. About 48 seconds remained when suddenly a new program was on and the Cowboys were off the air.
Direct TV viewers never missed a beat and the Cowboys went on to win the game by hitting their free throws. Two of the biggest ones came when sophomore Kevin Hardy hit a pair with eight seconds remaining.
Like in the Heidi Game, McNeese went over the time allowed for the broadcast. This does happen often, but usually the game is carried over by the network.
In fact, the game before McNeese and Texas Tech also went over, cutting into the start of the Cowboys being shown, but just the introductions were missed.
All this makes sense only to television execs. To the fans of McNeese — many of whom can’t seem to find their way to either Burton Coliseum or the Civic Center but are able to have their clickers stop on this game — it doesn’t matter.
The social media world was filled with complaining Cowboy backers.
Oddly enough, the Suddenlink sudden change will go a long way in making this game last even longer than just as an upset.
Truth is, the upset really wasn’t that big, not if you have been watching McNeese this year. The Cowboys are playing pretty good ball, even if most of Lake Charles is looking elsewhere.
Their three losses have all been on the road and all to pretty good teams. And none of them have been a huge blowout, though the game at LSU got a little out of hand late. That was also before the full roster was back.
Wins over Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette and now Texas Tech show this might not be such a long rebuilding season. Of course, North Carolina is next up.
Yet, it is the misfire of the broadcast that might make this game more memorable. If not for NBC’s mess up, nobody would even recall the “Heidi Game,” let alone turn it into legend.
If nothing else, maybe this mess up will lead to a few more people taking a look at the Cowboys. You might like what you see.
Just don’t change the channel, you may not get the broadcast back.
Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org