Coaches of the two California high school football teams featured Friday night on ESPN2 are riled up about the way the network treated them and their schools. In a "Hometown Report," The Sacramento Bee reveals that the "overall sense of the ESPN superiority" flustered officials at Folsom High School and Del Paso Height's Grant High School. Network crews took control of practically every detail of the sold-out event, school officials say, which aired live from Folsom's Prairie City Stadium.
"I've covered eight Super Bowls and never had as many difficulties as I have with this game," Fox 40 sports director Jim Crandell told reporter Joe Davidson. Before the game, ESPN insisted that local television outlets have no access to the field - meaning no highlights on their newscasts - but that edict was adjusted to limited access from the end zones. The network also reportedly asked the student bodies of both schools to host on-campus rallies and pulled players out of class to conduct interviews.
Nationally ranked Grant crushed Folsom, 49-14, but Folsom coach Kris Richardson said that playing the game "was the easy part." During the game - for which Folsom received $2,000 from ESPN and Grant received $1,000 - both teams' coaches were told what they could have on their sidelines and where those items should be located, according to The Bee, including branded water bottles and jugs. "The national exposure is great for the kids and the fans, but being told exactly what you could have on your sideline … is new to me," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said.
ESPN has played a pivotal role in the evolution of televised high school football, particularly since 2006. Schedules for the network and its sister stations, ESPN2 and ESPNU, that year included no fewer than 13 national broadcasts of regular-season football games. By comparison, The ESPN RISE High School Football Kickoff this past weekend alone featured eight games played in seven states.