Report: FS1 put off by Utah's handling of Cameron Rising injury
When Utah lined up against Washington State Thursday night with sophomore walk-on quarterback Bryson Barnes behind center and not all-conference star Cameron Rising, the FS1 broadcast crew scrambled and everyone watching at home started frantically refreshing their social media feeds trying to figure out what was going on.
The lead-up to the game was all about Rising and his heroics on Oct. 15, leading Utah to a 43-42 win over then-No. 7 USC. Rising was spectacular, throwing for 415 yards, running for another 60, and scoring five touchdowns — including the game-winning touchdown run and two-point conversion with 48 seconds to play.
But coming out of the bye week, Rising was a late, late scratch for the game.
According to John Canzano, who spoke with FS1’s Petros Papadakis for a column on his Substack, ‘Bald Faced Truth,’ the broadcast crew in charge of the game was less than pleased with Utah’s handling of the situation.
“We had no idea,” Papadakis told Canzano. “They didn’t tell us. We were given every indication that Cam Rising was starting the football game.”
According to Canzano, Utah’s coaching staff initially rescheduled a Wednesday meeting with the FS1 on-air broadcast team, then raved about Rising.
Papadakis checked with the Utah sports information department “several times” before the broadcast started asking if there was anything new beyond Tavion Thomas’ absence the crew needed to be aware of and was told there was nothing.
As Canzano points out, programs are typically more forthcoming with injury information for TV broadcast partners than local media. Informing an on-air crew of a player who is unlikely to play is different from telling a beat writer that info during a mid-week availability.
The latter leads to mid-week stories. The broadcast crew wouldn’t be revealing anything until gametime. No competitive disadvantage there.
From Canzano’s report:
… the FS1 crew felt misled and the start to the broadcast made the Pac-12 look amateurish.
“Even if you didn’t get a heads up in the meeting, you should get a call from the sports information director — basically, the PR department — before the game,” Papadakis said. “Just so we can run out the right kid, with the right graphics and the right celebration. And get that moment right for that young man and this moment in Utah football history, with a new starter coming out.
“None of that happened.”
Barnes led Utah to a 21-17 win over Washington State. He completed 17 of his 27 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. In his first career start, Barnes added 51 rushing yards on eight carries.
After the game, Whittingham said it was Rising’s decision not to play.
“Just didn’t feel like he was right,” Whittingham said. “It was Cam’s decision and we respect that. Bryson got put in a tough spot because he was not expecting to be the starter up until a half hour before the game.
“If Cam says he can’t play, he can’t play. There’s no questioning him whatsoever, no doubting him whatsoever. He’s the last guy that wants to miss a game.”
Utah will get a few extra days rest before facing Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Nov. 5. The Pac-12 and its TV partners are utilizing the six-day window for the game, along with two others.
The late-night slot on FS1 is available. Just saying.